Emaar returning malls to an ‘old-fashioned shopping experience’

Digital sector forcing developers to constantly adapt and develop

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, has said that the retail developer’s next generation of shopping malls will mark a return to an old-fashioned shopping experience, even as the developer looks to expand its digital business.

Speaking at the World Retail Congress in Madrid, Alabbar said that the new malls being developed by Emaar will be inspired by a sense of community – a trait which he said was rapidly disappearing as more and more shoppers interact with devices, rather than with people.

“The best brands are on gorgeous streets, whether it is Sloane Street or Fifth Avenue. Maybe we should start taking the granite and the marble out of the shopping mall and put in the asphalt,” he said.

“The old life of the square brought together by the church or mosque — we need to put some of that back in the new stuff we’re doing.”

Alabbar added that three new malls in Serbia, Egypt and Dubai would be built according to this theme.

Furthermore, he said that the nature of entertainment was changing rapidly, with the pace of development in the digital sector forcing developers to constantly adapt and develop.

“We are designing malls now with parks, music, art. Entertainment has changed. Now people are taking out the ice-skating rink and putting in a digital screen the size of the rink, because that’s where the kids are interacting, playing with whatever they have drawn on their phone and dropping it on the screen.

“You should update your business as often as your phone is updated,” he said. “The digital e-commerce people are not normal people. They will take over the world. They are young, they are bright and they are so fast it is unbelievable. They have beds in the office.”

Emaar Properties built some of Dubai’s best-known landmarks, including the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.

The developer has completed the second phase of the Dubai Mall in the first quarter of 2018, which added about 52,400 square meters of gross leasable area.


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