Fujairah residents will have to wait another two months before the doors open on the emirate’s new and biggest mall.
Fujairah Mall is set to officially open on December 2, three months after its scheduled opening on September 1.
Aswaq Management and Services, the operator of the mall, said the delay was caused by construction issues.
“I thought it best for the safety and security of our customers that everything should be correct before we open, so we have not rushed into this,” said Guillaume Darlix, the firm’s chief commercial officer of retail.
He said the firm would increase its lease of the mall’s gross leasable area (GLA) from 50 per cent to 80 per cent within two months of the mall’s opening.
“The market for retail has changed and it is not as bullish as it used to be. I cannot control the calendar of the retailers, but Fujairah Mall will open on National Day,” said Mr Darlix.
With a GLA of more than 35,000 square metres, the mall has space for 175 retail outlets.
A “soft” opening of the mall is planned for November 22, with about half of the retail space currently leased.
The Chalhoub Group, the huge UAE luxury retailer with more than 650 retail stores in 14 countries, was initially part of the retail mix.
But it has since pulled out, and Paris Gallery has become an anchor tenant.
Alshaya Retail, a major franchise operator which controls more than 70 brands at more than 2,800 stores internationally, will not be present at the mall. Sources close to the company said Fujairah could not yet offer the footfall needed.
“While it’s true that Fujairah doesn’t have the tourism of Dubai or the population of Abu Dhabi, malls in those emirates often do not open up totally leased,” said Matthew Green, the head of research and consultancy in the UAE at CBRE.
“However, Fujairah Mall is only about 2 kilometres from the other big mall, City Centre Fujairah, so the competition will be significant. The fact that some of the bigger players aren’t there gives an opportunity for some of the local operators to get into a bigger mall where they are often excluded.”
Fujairah’s economic growth has attracted interest from retail groups in recent years as a number of new projects in the oil and gas sector have been announced.
Tourism is also on the rise, with the number of hotel guests rising by 2.5 per cent to more than 707,000 last year, from more than 690,000 guests in 2013.
However, that still trails the double-digit growth in visitor arrivals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi despite significant investment in new hotel projects in Fujairah.
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