Majid Al Futtaim plans to dominate mall market in the region

New malls in Beirut, Bahrain and Egypt are planned with UAE and Muscat malls to be expanded

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By  Eudore Chand Published  April 24, 2004

After transforming the region’s retail industry in 1995 when it opened Deira City Centre, Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Investments has announced an ambitious expansion roadmap with which it hopes to dominate the Middle East’s mall market. MAF Investments is now planning a major mall in Beirut, which will be the first of its kind in Lebanon. Another first in the region will be a retail park ‘Big Box’ concept that will be developed in Dubai, UAE. The Dubai-based business house will also construct a large mall in Bahrain and a third centre in Egypt, apart from other projects that in the pipeline. These include dramatic plans in the UAE for Deira City Centre in Dubai and expansions to Sharjah and Ajman City Centres. Construction Week had first reported the MAF Investment’s expansion plans in its Issue 11 of 14th February 2004. The Dubai-based organisation has confirmed these and has now issued further details. “Retail represents more than 80% of the group’s revenues. So over the next five years it will continue to be the main driver of our business,” says Peter Walichnowski, chief executive officer of Majid Al Futtaim Investments. “In addition to these markets, we are closely monitoring regional development with a view to announcing other ventures in new markets, including Iran and Syria,” he added. In less than 10 years from the opening of the region’s leading shopping mall, Deira City Centre, MAF Investments has constructed further malls in Sharjah, Ajman, Muscat and two in Egypt, which it says is arguably the most demanding market in the region. In addition to this, the group has begun construction on the Dhs3 billion Mall of the Emirates off Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road. Despite starting construction six months ago, already over 75% of the massive Mall of the Emirates project in Dubai has been leased by retailers. Agreements have been signed with major retail houses such as the Alshaya Group, the Al Tayer Group, the Landmark Group and Broadway Trading. A 400-room all-suite hotel managed by Kempinski and the world’s largest indoor ski slope are also under construction at the Mall of the Emirates. In addition to mall construction and management, MAF Investments holds the Middle East and North Africa franchise for Carrefour, the first hypermarket chain to reach the region. Primarily associated with mall developments, there are already eight Carrefour stores in the UAE and others in Egypt, Qatar and Oman. “The unrivalled success of Deira City Centre over the last decade has shown the retail industry that MAF Investments leads the way in terms of mall management,” added Walichnowski. “The key to success is not the ability to build a mall, but rather in the ability to manage the mix of tenants coupled with a strong marketing function and international management experience,” he added. The Egypt mall will be the second in Cairo. Earlier reports said that the UAE group was also considering an entry into the Gulf’s largest market of Saudi Arabia. Details are expected to be announced later.

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