Since the turn of the millennium, the Middle East and North Africa region has become one of the world’s best known tourist destinations. It has become renowned for its opulence and extravagance and is home to the largest shopping mall, the longest indoor ski slope, the world’s largest manmade island and the business international airport. Here, RLI skims the surface of some of the outstanding retail projects across the region.

Home to some incredible completed and upcoming projects such as Dubai Mall, Cityland Mall, Mall of Oman, Al Araimi Boulevard, Cairo Festival City and Mall of Sousse, and housing world-renowned luxury powerhouse retail companies Chalhoub Group, Landmark Group, Dubai Holding Group and Alshaya, along with world-class developers such as Majid Al Futtaim, Nakheel, Emaar Properties and Meraas, the MENA region is in the top echelon of retail players worldwide. Here, we take a look at some of the projects you need to know about…


On course to open by the end of the year, the redesigned Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Park will be integrated with the wider community to create a place of discovery and family interactivity. An adventure zone, retail and F&B outlets, activity areas and education zones are just some of the attractions on offer as the boundaries between urban life and green spaces blur seamlessly. The once-walled and “almost secret” park in Abu Dhabi is set to become a community hub for leisure and wellness. The existing Khalidiya Ladies Park will be rebranded as Sheikha Fatima Park, and transformed into a multi-use space consisting of an adventure zone, multiple retail and food outlets, a designated space for women and children and an interactive educational area. Construction at the 46,000sq m park is well underway by developers Imkan.

A 2.4km-long leisure and dining waterfront project, Al Qana, located in the Khor Al Maqta area of Abu Dhabi is planned for completion in the final quarter of 2020, designed by local firm MZ Architects. The project is being developed by Al Barakah International Investment, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Municipality. The multi-purpose project will house a sophisticated five-star hotel, a range of international restaurants and cafes, galleries and entertainment venues, a cinema, an open-air theatre, sports facilities, jogging and skating path, children’s golf, high-end retail stores, a marina, various gardens, water fountains and ample parking spaces.

Mall of Dilmunia, Bahrain
mall of dilmunia, bahrain
Developer: Dilmunia Mall Development Company

The project is part of the National Trail that reflects the identity of the seven Emirates and stretches from the Corniche to the city’s new Capital District. Reem Mall, the brand new shopping centre on Reem Island, has successfully constructed the highest point in the structure. A total of 14 tower cranes are on site with work being carried out around the clock to bring the huge structure towards completion.

In addition a total of 350,000 kilos of concrete have now been poured across the eight-level structure. 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 late next year 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 Mall of Dilmunia will redefine the shopping experience in Bahrain by adding urbanity to the retail experience through the development of a Boulevard. It provides visitors with the illusion that they are outdoors within a vibrant European cityscape. The open-air sky terrace allows visitors to take in the breath-taking view of the island of Muharraq. The terrace is to also include a beautiful mosque representing the Islamic family values, culture and lifestyle. Mall of Dilmunia is a project by Dilmunia Mall Development Company and it will provide fun and educational entertainment facilities for children and teenagers, while young adults and parents sample its rooftop cafes, delicious food and beverage outlets, or enjoy live music within the two large atriums designed for events.

The mall overlooks the Dilmunia grand canal and a lush gardens landscape that is also complimented by greenery within the mall. The main familial entertainment centres include a spectacular 3 storey high cylindrical aquarium with aquatic life that will mesmerize visitors from each level of the mall and a state-of-the-art large indoor Ice Rink built on the first floor of the mall. An opening date is expected soon. A pioneering destination bringing together an immersive community experience through world-class design, entrepreneurship and technology, Meydan One Mall is an integrated experiential destination redefining new-age retail experiences through leveraging cutting-edge technologies to create exceptional blended retail, dining, hospitality, entertainment and residential offering.

The new mall is being developed by Meydan Group to open next year and it will feature over 550 retail outlets including a 13,200sq m hypermarket, 190 food & beverage outlets, a 21-screen cinema, a one kilometre long indoor ski slope and a 12,000sq m winter village, a 25,800sq m dancing water fountain, 37,000sq m of entertainment experiences, a 5,430sq m medical centre, luxury Plaza Hotel, Lifestyle Canyon & 20,000sq m office tower, an 8.2km Crystal Lagoon and 12,600 car parking spaces. Al-Futtaim has announced that Festival Plaza is due to open this December, the upcoming project designed by the architecture group BSBG.

The massive retail space covers 64,800sq m and is in the centre of the upcoming Wasl Gate Community – making it easy access for Jebel Ali, Dubai Marina, JLT and commuters from Abu Dhabi. There will be more than 120 shops, a 500-seat food court, 40 restaurants, a stay and play, a kids’ club and more than 2,300 parking spaces too. Festival Plaza will hold stores including IKEA, M&S, ACE and Lulu Hypermarket. The IKEA will be the biggest in Dubai – and the second to be set up in the city after Dubai Festival City branch – with an added focus on sustainability. Singapore-based, Chinese firm Samanea Group will develop a 570,000sq ft retail mall in Dubai which will focus on home appliances and furniture.

Reem Mall, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Developers: The National Real Estate Company (NREC)
and United Projects for Aviation Services Company (UPAC)

Dubai developer Meraas has signed an agreement with Singapore-based Chinese company Samanea Group that will see a $272M mall come to fruition in 2021 near Dubai International City. The inaugural Big C Forum witnessed the signing, with six key Chinese manufacturers and businesses also inking the letter of intent. Samanea Group will develop the 570,000sq ft retail outlet which will focus on home appliances and furniture from small, medium and big Chinese businesses seeking a foothold in the GCC market. The mall will also hold space for 1,800 parking spaces. The Al Khiran Hybrid Outlet Mall will have 75,000sq m of high-end outlet shopping. With a mix of luxury and premium stores and the best of F&B and entertainment options, the mall will redefine Kuwait’s high-street shopping experience.

The entire mall will have an outdoor ambience with indoor streets covered by continuous skylights to provide natural light. Designed by leading international architects RTKL and being developed by Tamdeen Group, the mall will have a unique resort-style architecture which will incorporate traditional Arabic motifs. The mall’s façade will add to its identity providing a highly sustainable solution which filters light and provides shade. The development is being designed to strengthen Kuwait’s position as a regional shopping, entertainment and conservative tourism destination, Al Khiran is an environmentally-friendly waterfront destination with a mission to promote recreation and wellbeing.

Mall of Oman, Majid Al Futtaim’s fifth and biggest lifestyle destination in the sultanate, is on track after the completion of two major infrastructure milestones. Set to open in March 2021, the Mall of Oman confirmed delivery of new roads and flyovers, connecting the mall to the Muscat Expressway, and the completion of the Muscat Electricity Distribution Company (MEDC) Primary Substation. Considered to be the biggest project of its kind in the sultanate, Mall of Oman will have 145,000sq m of retail space, dining outlets and a range of lifestyle experiences.

The mall will also include Oman’s largest VOX Cinemas, a Magic Planet family entertainment centre, a 12,200sq m Carrefour Hypermarket and the largest indoor snow park in the sultanate. Khorfakkan Beach in Sharjah aims to redesign a three kilometre stretch of beach by providing high-quality public amenities, a range of activities and a variety of dining and hospitality options thereby enhancing the lifestyle of the residents and visitors coming to the development.

The project is under construction and will open in two phases, according to the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, also known as Shurooq. The first phase will transform the south side of the beach (from the port to the main roundabout). An amphitheatre and walkway overlooking the beach will be built, making it much easier for cruise passengers to walk into town from the new cruise terminal. The opening date has not yet been set.

Cairo Festival City Mall, CAIRO, EGYPT
Developer: Al-Futtaim

Set to be the first shopping area entirely dedicated to luxury brands in Egypt, the new Festival Avenue at the Cairo Festival City Mall by developers Al Futtaim, will be completed in 2021 and will host more than 100 high-profile stores. The brandnew Festival Avenue luxury expansion will be Egypt’s premium urban entertainment and retail destination, a sophisticated lifestyle hub which will be home to 60 new international brand boutiques including Mont Blanc, OMEGA, Bulgari, Zegna, Versace, Emporio Armani Jnr, Moschino, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli and Red Valentino.

Many of these brands will be available for the first time on the Egyptian market and will offer an exclusive shopping experience. Among the new services, there will be the “hands-free shopping” offering home and hotel delivery and styling services.

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, be home to 190 stores and is currently scheduled to launch in 2021. The Ben Salem brothers, owners of Tunis-based Indigo Properties (the local franchisee for such retail brands as Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti, and Celio), are set to break ground on Tunis Garden City mall before the end of this year. The mall, which is being designed by Design International will have a gross leasable area (GLA) of 60,000sq m and be accompanied by a hotel, offices, and housing. This development is due to be completed by the end of 2021.