Abu Dhabi’s latest mall, which features the first House of Fraser department store outside the United Kingdom and Ireland, opened its doors yesterday.
World Trade Center Mall, located on the site of the emirate’s old Central Market, has 160 shops, more than 20 dining outlets and an eight-screen cinema.
The department store stocks more than 170 brands of consumer goods, some of which are available for the first time in the capital.
“When you look at Abu Dhabi, it is sort of underweight compared to Dubai in terms of shopping centres,” said John King, the chief executive of House of Fraser.
“Working with [regional franchise partner Retail Arabia International], we were able to bring some great European and international brands but also some great local brands as well.”
It is the first of several stores his company was looking at opening in the region, Mr King said.
Nabil Daud, the managing director of Retail Arabia International, said: “[The mall is] right in the centre of town and it’s also a minute away from the Corniche … really the heart of Abu Dhabi where all the businesses are.” He added that the partnership quickly signed up with the mall because of its location.
The mall also hosts shops and restaurants that are new to Abu Dhabi, such as the fashion brands Karen Millen and Missoni, as well as the eateries PF Chang’s and Nando’s.
The mall's developer, Aldar Properties, hopes it will attract customers from across the emirate, but its primary target clientele are people living within a four-kilometre radius of the mall.
The mall is the third in three months to open in Abu Dhabi; Deerfields Townsquare, a long-awaited community shopping centre, opened last month, and The Galleria, an upmarket mall located on Al Maryah Island, did so in August.
On a global list of cities with the most retail space under development, Abu Dhabi ranks 10th, according to a report this year by the international property consultancy CBRE.
Nine such projects would be completed in Abu Dhabi from this year until 2017, establishing the emirate as a retail destination in the Middle East, CBRE said.
The projects – which includes Yas Mall, an Aldar Properties project which will become the UAE’s second-largest mall when it opens in March – follow a period of significant undersupply, when many malls in the capital were running at close to full occupancy.
Developers are rolling out more mall projects because it has realised that residents, particularly the most affluent, have been travelling to shop in Dubai at the weekends, according to analysts.