Even as the number of people making online purchases continues to see rapid growth, retail giants in Dubai continue to open new malls and expand their old ones.
Most recently, Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) opened its fourth mall, the City Centre Me’aisem, in Dubai and the company has also expanded its popular Mall of the Emirates.
The Emaar Properties owned Dubai Mall, which attracts thousands of visitors a day, is also under expansion.
Meanwhile, many companies announced new commercial projects at this year’s Cityscape Global, held in Dubai from September 8 to 10. Meydan City Corporation launched a 3.67-million-square-metre mixed-use project, which boasts the sprawling Meydan One Mall, set to contain the world’s largest indoor ski slope.
“A diverse region such as Dubai needs a wide range of retail space,” says Michael Cesarz, the chief executive officer of the shopping malls business unit of Majid Al Futtaim Properties. “I think that we are not overloaded when compared to international retail standards, but what I can say is that I think there is some more growth to be seen over the next years and there is potential.”
Cesarz also argues that shopping malls are increasingly becoming relevant now, as people’s urge for socialising continues to rise exponentially.
On the other hand, various studies have indicated that e-commerce in the country is growing at a fast pace.
Local retail website Awok.com has revealed that nearly 46 per cent of Dubai residents purchase goods online, while a survey by payment solutions provider Network International has found that 39 per cent of residents in the UAE make one to five online purchases in a week.
“The world’s largest mall and the world’s highest number of malls are both found in Dubai, so it’s interesting that the city is home to the UAE’s largest number of online shoppers,” says Ulugbek Yuldashev, Managing Director of awok.com.
“You might expect residents to do more shopping in person, but purchasing goods online is now so convenient that they’re just as comfortable doing so through secure and reliable websites as they are on foot.”
BECO Capital, a regional venture capital firm, says that retail sales in the Middle East are expected to surge from the current $10 billion to $100bn in 2025.
“The Middle East is at an inflection point where we are witnessing the beginning of a seismic shift, driven by strong dynamics,” says Dany Farha, Chief Executive Officer of BECO. “We have 85 million Internet users, 60m Smartphone users and over $10bn in e-commerce spend in 2014. We also have a nearly five times higher purchasing power per capita than India, which attracted 80 per cent of emerging market venture capital globally.”