As the area continues to stride forward in its pursuit of ambitious mega-cities and urban development’s post-Covid-19, the Middle East is once again right at the forefront of the industry thanks to the Expo 2020 event in Dubai and as the region moves gradually towards its Saudi Vision 2030. Here, RLI puts the microscope over the wide range of projects and developments recently completed or on course to open across the MENA region.
Projects Across the Middle East
Silicon Central, designed by Design International, opened its doors to the public of Dubai earlier this year and they are now experiencing the latest Lulu hypermarket, a new 9,000sq m flagship store by Lulu Group. The project, already considered a new landmark in Dubai, represents a step forward in the now well-established collaboration between Design International and developer Line Investments & Property FZE, the shopping mall division of Lulu Group international. Strategically positioned 12km from the city-centre and 15km from Dubai airport, Silicon Central is located at Dubai Silicon Oasis, the first eco sustainable district in Dubai focused on low carbon footprint, AI, and technology. With a total of 81,500sq m GLA and 3,500 car park spaces, Silicon Central includes 218 retail shops and services, 50 restaurant outlets with dedicated home delivery services, 12 cinema screens, 5,000sq m fitness and co-working areas, and a 7,000sq m family entertainment centre.
Now open, the Mall of Dilmunia represents a balanced mix of modernistic and futuristic architecture which creates an exciting family oriented universe within it. It includes retailers from across the MENA region that was yet to enter the Bahraini market; it also provides a quality entertainment, leisure and retail destination, which adds value to the Island’s tenants and guests. Developed by Dilmunia Mall Development Company, the Mall of Dilmunia is redefining the shopping experience in Bahrain by adding urbanity to the retail experience through the development of a Boulevard. The latest major onsite opening was Bahrain Aquarium back in September. The Bahrain Aquarium occupies all four levels of the mall, making it the first and largest cylindrical aquarium in a mall in the Middle East, offering a one-of-a-kind experience combining the glory of the seas and education in one spectacular spot.
Back in March, UAE conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim opened its 28th mall in the region, the Dhs2.6bn City Centre Al Zahia in Sharjah to visitors. City Centre Al Zahia includes 136,200sq m of gross leasable space, and is the largest mall in the Northern Emirates. It will provide a mix of more than 360 brands, and was initially intended to open in March 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. The new destination is expected to become exceptionally popular within the emirate due to its unique art and culture offering alongside the more traditional retail offering, the mall will feature artistic, social, theatre and sports hubs alongside professional and educational workshops and a grand plaza complete with children’s play areas.
Circle Mall, the newest community mall by master developer Nakheel, opened its doors for a soft launch back in April. Located at Jumeirah Village Circle, just off Hessa Street, the mall is a family-friendly destination for residents of JVC and nearby areas, with leading retailers, food and entertainment brands. Circle Mall spans 532,000sq ft and opens with a collection of brands including Spinneys supermarket, Nesto Hypermarket, Daiso, Medicina Pharmacy, Du, Etisalat and everything a community needs for convenient shopping close to home. In this quarter, the mall will have up to 80 stores, restaurants and entertainment outlets, including Baskin Robbins, Life Pharmacy, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Il Forno among many others. In addition to the mall’s diverse collection of retailers, Wellfit, a multifaceted club of fitness and wellness designed to develop the body and mind by blending Olympic sports with physical fitness, will open in Q4 as well.
Back in September Mall of Oman by developer Majid Al Futtaim opened its doors in Muscat and the 140,000sq m mall features the sultanate’s largest cinema, a thousand-seat food court, and Oman’s largest indoor snow park, which spans over 14,000sq m. More than 80 per cent of the LEED-certified mall’s gross leasable area has been leased, and 300 retail outlets are in the process of launching. As for those looking to go on a culinary journey, Mall of Oman has unveiled a 1,000 plus seater food court which will offer a selection of global chains. Meanwhile, those looking for more indulgent cuisine options from across the globe, will soon be able to visit various cafés and restaurants at the mall including over 50 dining options.
Developed by Salhia Real Estate Company and opened last month, the six-levelled Assima Mall project in Kuwait features a mix of brands, with many making their debut in the Kuwait. The mall also includes the largest hypermarket in Kuwait City. Assima Mall boasts an enormous lifestyle and leisure element which includes a cinema, gym, spa, and great entertainment for the whole family. The mall utilises its outdoor spaces with finesse; in the coming months onsite there will be a range of rooftop cafes and restaurants alongside the urban park – perfect for the cooler months. The uniquely designed spaces will serve a range of cuisines, perfect for every taste and palate.
Abu Dhabi’s billion-dirham waterfront social dining and entertainment destination, Al Qana, is a new Riviera-style marina, that is rejuvenating the area of the capital and has become ‘the place to be’ for those wanting to dine, socialise or sail off into the sunset. Featuring seven anchor destinations spanning over 2.4km of scenic and picturesque waterfront walkways, Al Qana offers residents and visitors a unique collection of attractions with leisure facilities from waterside eateries, the largest standalone cinema in Abu Dhabi, the Middle East’s largest aquarium, first-of-its-kind lifestyle hub including wellness facilities, first to the UAE VR zone, E-Sports arena, standalone exciting kids’ zone, and innovative landscaped community spaces. Opening in stages in this quarter, the project is being developed by Al Barakah International Investment.
Reem Mall, the brand new shopping centre on Reem Island off the coast of Adu Dhabi, will be home to the world’s largest indoor snow park. Once completed, the two million square foot shopping centre will offer new retail, leisure and entertainment options for people in Abu Dhabi. Attractions include the world’s largest snow park, a multiplex cinema, 85 food and drink outlets and 450 shops. Reem Mall is expected to open in Q1 2022 following the completion of the AED 4.4bn development by The National Real Estate Company (NREC) and United Projects for Aviation Services Company (UPAC). The $1.2bn project shared on its social media channels recently that their current progress in building the gargantuan new shopping destination, and appears to be almost 95 per cent done.
The Al Khiran Hybrid Outlet Mall in Kuwait is set to meet heightened shopper expectations by offering a combination of high value and dynamic experiences through a mix of premium outlet shopping, curated dining, immersive entertainment, large format events & exhibitions and recreational leisure experiences when it opens in April 2022. The project area is spread over 350,000sq m, the total GLA of the upcoming outlet is 70,000sq m and it will be home to 300 retail stores. Al Khiran Hybrid Outlet Mall is being developed by the Tamdeen Group which has consistently delivered exceptional real estate including the award-winning 360 Kuwait and Al Kout with a single-minded purpose; To Build Great Places.
Qetaifan Projects is a real estate development company founded in October 2017. It is fully owned by Katara Hospitality; a leading global hotel owner, developer and operator based in Qatar. Qetaifan Projects foremost objective is to build cities of sustainable and intelligent infrastructure to support Qatar’s long-term economic vision. Qetaifan Projects first and main development is Qetaifan Island North; a distinct island featuring a state-of-the-art waterpark, luxurious hotels, unrivalled accommodation and world-class facilities that make it a modern, globally-competitive community with a unique design that is inspired by the rich culture and nature of the region. This thriving waterfront hub represents a thrilling new way of life, as well as a symbol of vision, insight, and aspiration to develop into an internationally recognized landmark location and Qatar’s future iconic destination. Phase one of the project is planned for completion by the third quarter of next year.
Dubai’s Majid Al Futtaim has signed an agreement with global infrastructure consulting firm AECOM to help mastermind the development of the retailer’s Mall of Saudi, its flagship project in the Kingdom which is scheduled for opening in 2024. The mall is set to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year in Riyadh, as part of a mixed-use development in the north of the capital city. AECOM will be the lead design consultancy on the project and supervise construction of the mall, which is expected to consist of about 600 stores across 300,000sq m of gross leasable area. At present, half of the space has been reserved by retailers. Mall of Saudi will also include the largest ski slope and snow park in the Middle East, luxury hotels and branded residences covering about 2,000 keys and on a 214,000sq m area. The mall will also include a Carrefour hypermarket and 31 VOX Cinema screens, including the world’s largest IMAX, and a Magic Planet.
Being developed by Azad Properties, the upcoming Souq7 development in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia celebrates legacy and culture in an entirely reimagined souq setup. It reflects modernity and innovation in line with Vision 2030, while also embracing the Middle East’s originality, stimulating the senses and inciting a sense of discovery. Following the “one-stop-shop” motto where shoppers can find anything and everything they want under one roof, Souq7 will be divided into seven main zones coming together in a beautiful mosaic that forms an all-encompassing lifestyle and retail space. The zones are foodstuff zone, the family entertainment zone, an electronics zone, furniture & home supplies zone, building material zone, automotive zone and a multi-use zone. Spreading over 728,000sq m of space, Souq7 will feature 4,000 shops, around 7,000 parking spaces, 108 buildings and five mosques.
1364 will be a world-class shopping, dining and entertainment centre that offers Saudi society a place to express and fulfil their modern desires. The 1364 shopping centre will be a location as unique as the Diplomatic Quarter itself, with extensive greenery and water features to ensure that the project is an extension and continuation of the Diplomatic Quarter, with well blended contemporary architectural practices and a modern, attractive merchandise mix to attract young professionals and families from all over Riyadh. Set to bustle with energy and activity, day and night; there will always be something new for guests to discover at the 1364 site, from live music, casual bites, play areas and an extensive cultural scene, 1364 springs to life, offering ever-changing activities for families and trendy meeting places that create the ultimate social scene. An opening date for the project has not yet been announced by developer Unified Real Estate Development Co.
Being developed by Shomoul Holding Company – part of Mabanee, The Avenues Riyadh project has no specific opening date but upon completion, it is set to become the largest leisure and commercial destination in the Kingdom. The first design and construction phase of the project has been awarded to Nesma & Partners Contracting Company in a $1.6bn deal. The first construction phase of The Avenues Riyadh entails building a fully-fledged mall, with parking lots, gardens, and internal roads. The project is anticipated to become a new retail icon in Saudi Arabia and the region thanks to its innovative shopping and entertainment offerings, services, and hospitality concepts that support Saudi Vision 2030 and set a new global standard for a delightful recreational experience. Upon full completion, the project will cover an area of 1.9 million square metres, and will feature a shopping mall with an area of 400,000sq m and more than 1,300 stores, in addition to five towers with commercial and residential facilities and four hotels.
Taking its inspiration from offshore oil platforms, ‘The Rig’ will span an area of more the 150,000sq m and will include three hotels, world-class restaurants and a range of adventure activities, including extreme sports.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has revealed ambitious plans to build the world’s first tourism destination on offshore platforms. According to a promotional video posted by PIF on social media the development, which takes its inspiration from offshore oil platforms, will also incorporate a roller coaster, water slides, diving and a 50-berth marina. To support Saudi Arabia’s efforts to become a leading global tourist destination, PIF has established several major projects and companies in various regions within the country, including the Red Sea Development Company, Alsoudah Development Company and the Cruise Saudi Company.
According to an update earlier this year from architecture firm Benoy, steady progress is being made on Solitaire, a new 65,000sq m urban district in Riyadh that is being developed by Al Marqab Investment Company. The design of the Solitaire project consists of two basements, a ground floor and first floor retail spaces. According to Benoy, the project’s modern design allows for the internal areas to be extended and use of a fully developed boulevard plaza space. Onsite retail will be of the high-end variety and feature a dedicated jewellery quarter whilst the entertainment at Solitaire will consist of family entertainment concepts, ongoing seasonal events, plus sound, light and water activations.
Giga-Projects Across The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The predominant Giga-Projects – Amaala, Neom, Qiddiya and the Red Sea Project – are being funded and developed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund owned by Saudi Arabia. Together the projects are being touted as the most ambitious projects on Earth utilising technology, sustainability and natural landscapes.
Amaala is an ultra-luxury tourism project located on Saudi Arabia’s north-western coast that is inspired by the Red Sea. Operating under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) Development Management Organisation established the blueprint for Amaala. The development broke ground last year and all phases will be completed in line with the realisation of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. While the Amaala resort destination spans over 4,155km of unspoiled terrain within the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve, approximately five per cent of the greenfield site will be developed, with the reminder managed for conservation value. The year-round destination will include 2,800 hotel keys and more than 900 private residential villas, apartments, and estate homes, alongside 200 high-end retail establishments, fine dining, wellness and recreational facilities.
A planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province of north-western Saudi Arabia, Neom is set to incorporate smart city technologies as well as functioning as a tourist destination throughout its total area of 26,500sq km that will extend 460km along the coast of the Red Sea. Meaning “new future”, Neom is an attempt to do something that’s never been done before and it comes at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions. The scheme is set to include towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues and tourist destinations. In January 2021, the project unveiled plans for The Line, a 170km long linear city that is supposed to be able to house a million residents and it is planned to be powered by 100 per cent clean energy, and its infrastructure is set to cost $100bn to $200bn. The first scheme of the project is due to finish by 2025.
Another Giga-Projects is Qiddiya. Strategically located close to Riyadh and covering an area of 334sq km, it is set to become Saudi Arabia’s iconic entertainment destination and the world’s largest entertainment city – even surpassing Walt Disney World in Florida. Qiddiya will be split into the five development areas of Resort Core, City Centre, Eco Core, Motion Core and the Golf and Residential Neighbourhood. Construction began in 2019 and the aim of the masterplan was to create a project that overwhelms visitors with a variety of activities. In short, Qiddiya’s first phase of development is advancing towards an early 2023 grand opening and will include over 45 projects and more than 300 activities across the creative, hospitality and entertainment and sporting sectors. The first phase will be followed by phase two which will open between 2024 and 2026 and phase three which will open between 2027 and 2031.
The upcoming Red Sea Project is a land and property development that was announced in July 2017. It is planned to be established on the Saudi Arabian Red Sea Coast. The project is focused on tourism, hoping to attract tourists to visit and explore and the Saudi western coast. This Giga-Project is expected to increase the Saudi GDP by $5.86bn per year upon completion, when it will cover 28,000sq km of islands, beaches, desert, mountains and volcanic AREAS. The first phase of the scheme is expected to be completed by 2022 when 14 luxury and hyper-luxury hotels incorporating 3,000 hotel rooms will be constructed along with an airport, marina and recreations centres. The Red Sea Project is the world’s most ambitious luxury tourism development, and it will offer an exclusive experience unparalleled diversity for discerning global travellers. The destination is expected to be fully completed by 2030, offering 8,000 hotel rooms across island resorts, mountain retreats and desert hideaways.
Aside from these projects, there is also Diriyah Square, the commercial opportunity at the heart of the major Diriyah masterplan being developed right now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Set to become the world’s foremost historic, cultural and lifestyle destination, the 5 km sq Giga-Project is being delivered by the Diriyah Development Company, a subsidiary of Diriyah Gate Development Authority. More than 500 luxurious stores, restaurants and hotels will soon call Diriyah Square home – a completely new and inspired collection of the finest in culture, hospitality, retail, leisure and entertainment, rooted in heritage and culture, all supported by futuristic technology, logistics and infrastructure beneath. The major project extends over a series of carefully curated neighbourhoods, streets and squares that form natural extensions to each other – each with their own style that distinguishes it from its counterparts. The project opens its doors to guests in 2024.
Projects Across North Africa
Offering an upscale shopping experience for the inhabitants of Al Rehab City and its environs, Boulevard Al Rehab is set to become a privilege for the community. The concept of Boulevard Al Rehab is characterised by a well-balanced structure between commercial and retail spaces, in addition to global brand hypermarket and wide range of international brands. The family & friends facilities combination is enhanced by a kid’s entertainment area as well as a cinema which is operated by leaders of the field. Under construction by United Global Company (UGC) Development with no set opening date yet, Boulevard Al Rehab has an area of 25,000sq m, out of which the total construction area is about 100,000sq m comprising six different levels.
The Morocco Mall Marrakech project was designed by DPA, a prestigious architectural firm from Singapore. The design was inspired from the surrounding geological and natural landscapes, made of luxuriant nature and inclined to leisure and relaxation. Morocco Mall Marrakech puts the customer experience at the heart of its architecture, offering a meticulous selection of shopping and dining, a clear orientation towards leisure and entertainment, and the city’s first showcase for luxury brands. At the forefront of trends, visitors of the Morocco Mall Marrakech will enjoy, with family or friends, a stimulating experience with indoor and outdoor paths, gardens, fountains, waterfalls and shops. The project is being developed by Aksal Group, will cover an area of 50,000sq m sales on a total area of 135,000sq m and be home to 190 stores and is currently scheduled to launch in 2022.
The construction works of the first phase of Le Carrousel a mixed-use project in Rabat situated off the Atlantic coast, the capital city of Morocco, are set to be complete by the third quarter of the year 2022 according to the developer, Imkan Properties L.L.C. (Imkan). Covering a 10ha piece of land, this phase of the project is estimated to cost about $82M. It includes the construction of residential areas, seafront promenade as well as over 40 retail outlets. The development, other than refined residences within an exclusive private community, will feature a 500m seafront promenade, a five-star hotel with 123 rooms and suites, and an open-air shopping mall with an area spanning 30,000sq m, featuring 120 shops.
Located in a strategic position between Tunis city centre and Tunis Carthage International Airport and being designed by Design International and developed by SPLT (Société de Promotion du Lac de Tunis) and Indigo Properties, Tunis Garden City will be the first development of a larger masterplan that will change the face of Tunis when it launches in 2024. Tunis Garden City is designed to give back to the city of Tunis an urban space where people can live, work, and enjoy life The mall is porous like the new city of Tunis. Everything is connected together and it will feature 150 retail outlets, distributed across two floors, with a mix of shops and restaurants that face both the indoor galleria and the outdoor boulevard. Ultimately, Tunis Garden City will be a new post-Covid-19 city, symbolising a new Tunisian renaissance.