Most of the Dh30 billion of investments in the UAE announced yesterday by Majid Al Futtaim is likely to be in place by the time Dubai’s Expo 2020 takes place, says the company’s chief executive, Alain Bejjani.
The Dubai-based group revealed plans to open 10 new City Centre malls, six hotels, 28 cinemas, 40 Carrefour supermarkets and a 740,000 square metre master planned community over the next 10 years, in a move that will generate about 170,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Yet Mr Bejjani said all but one of its mall projects would start on site either this year or next.
“We did not include in this Dh30bn strategy anything where we didn’t have the land acquired and plans in progress,” he said.
The projects announced include 10 malls being developed under its City Centre brand, a new super-regional mall in Sharjah at its Al Zahia master planned community and its first foray into Abu Dhabi retail through a smaller My City Centre mall at Masdar City.
The investment also includes plans to refurbish and extend existing properties. City Centre Me’aisem and City Centre Ajman are being extended, and more refurbishment at Mall of the Emirates, where upgrades will be carried out to areas around Rodeo Drive and Ski Dubai.
The six new hotels will include a luxury property at Mall of the Emirates, two hotels at Mirdif City Centre, one at Deira City Centre and two at the new Al Zahia mall in Sharjah.
Hotels, retail and leisure are also proposed for the new master planned community, which is being built at a plot on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed City, close to the Global Village complex. However, this is a project that may take slightly longer to bring forwards, Mr Bejjani said.
“We’ve just acquired the land. We didn’t do this announcement until we acquired the land because it’s very important for us that every component of this Dh30bn is clearly identified,” he said. “We have a pre-concept plan, then we are going to move ahead with approvals.”
Mr Bejjani declined to give details of how it would finance its Dh30bn investment, apart from stating that it was committed to maintaining its current BBB credit rating. “Our plans are well thought, well funded and we will take advantage of any opportunities in the market,” he said.
Last week, Dubai was ranked by the consultancy JLL as the fourth-most attractive market in the world for retailers, behind London, Hong Kong and Paris. Abu Dhabi was ranked 11th globally.
JLL said that Dubai already has one of the highest per-capita levels of retail space in the world, as it has developed a reputation as a shopping tourism destination.
The company’s Mena head of retail, Andrew Williamson, said: “As Dubai looks to welcome 20 million visitors by 2020, retail will play a crucial role in drawing in visitors from all over the globe.”
Majid Al Futtaim said that its plans will double the amount of retail space it has in its malls from 725,000 sq metres to 1.5 million sq metres. Emaar Malls has about 540,000 sq metres of retail space in its portfolio, including The Dubai Mall, but parent firm Emaar Properties has plans to develop 11.16 million sq metres of retail within the new Dubai Creek Harbour project.
Mr Bejjani said he was not concerned about overcapacity in the market, citing growing population and tourism numbers.
“There are very clear growth trends in the market that we are going to take advantage of, but quality is important and experience is important. Majid Al Futtaim is the best developer within all of our businesses. We are very confident of our offering,” he said.
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