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30 Seconds On The Business Of… Community Malls In The UAE

30 Seconds On The Business Of… Community Malls In The UAE

Gulf Business speaks to Neelesh Bhatnagar, director of Oasis Centre.

How many community malls does the UAE have at present?

It’s somewhere over 100 across the UAE. There are also several other projects in the pipeline that are still under construction and planning and a significant number of these malls are community malls.

Is that too many or too less compared to global standards?

Dubai is a city at full boom and is a favourite destination for people from around the world for tourism and residence. As long as the city grows there will be a need for more malls to serve the expectations and needs of new communities.

How do smaller malls compete with their bigger rivals?

I think there is a need for both small and big malls. While the latter might be more favoured by tourists, the former serve the daily lifestyle of communities in Dubai. Small malls have their own strengths; they are in neighbourhoods within walking reach of communities and they are smaller in size, which makes shopping easier and more convenient as shoppers spend less time and effort. And depending on location, community malls might be more economical than bigger malls.

What are the biggest challenges for smaller mall operators?

Space might be one of the challenges especially when some malls can’t accommodate a wide range of retailers or very large retailers like hypermarkets.

Looking wider at retail in the country, do you think Dubai, in particular, is over-shopped?

The retail industry is a key leverage of Dubai and the UAE’s tourism sector and economy. And Dubai has become synonymous with shopping. Perhaps it would be correct to say that Dubai is “over-shopping” and not over-shopped. With all these shops all over, you must have noticed that every new mall, small or big, gets filled with people quickly. There is a culture of shopping in this city, backed by the high dispensable income and the rewarding and convenient shopping experience, rarely found elsewhere.

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