Twenty million visitors have flocked to Abu Dhabi’s first super-regional shopping centre at Yas Mall since it opened in 2014 – roughly the equivalent of seven visits over the year by every person living in Abu Dhabi emirate.
According to the Abu Dhabi developer Aldar, which owns the 235,000 square metre mall on Yas Island, close to the capital’s main airport, a total of 18 million shoppers poured through its doors in last year alone.
To put that in context, according to Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi, the entire population of Abu Dhabi emirate stood at 2.6 million in 2014.
“I am very pleased with the growth in visitor numbers we have witnessed at Yas Mall in 2015,” said the Aldar chief executive Mohamed Al Mubarak.
The number falls slightly short of Aldar’s predictions at opening that the UAE’s second-largest mall would receive about 20 million visitors a year – equating to 54,794 a day.
By comparison, about 90 million shoppers visited the UAE’s largest shopping mall during just the first nine months of the year, The Dubai Mall, owner Emaar Malls Group reported in October. However, a large proportion of those are thought to have been tourists who come in larger numbers to Dubai than to Abu Dhabi.
According to Aldar, 96 per cent of its 82 shops and 63 dining venues were trading by the end of 2015 including the UAE’s first Apple store and the 20,000 square metre Tryano fashion outlet – something it said was likely to boost visitor numbers over the coming year.
Since its opening, the mall has provided the backbone of Aldar’s recurring revenues portfolio – something the Abu Dhabi government-backed developer has been attempting to grow as part of a strategy designed to leave it less susceptible to property cycles.
The increase in visitor numbers comes despite reports of a decline in consumer spending in the UAE caused by falling oil prices and a reduction of tourist spend.
In November the management consulting firm Bain & Co reported that after years of soaring numbers, growth in the overall personal luxury goods market in the UAE slowed in real terms to just 1 or 2 per cent.
It also comes as construction work continues on two more super regional malls in Abu Dhabi – the 2.3 million sq foot Al Maryah Central, which is being built next to the luxury Galleria shopping centre on Al Maryah Island, and the 2.8 million sq ft Reem Mall being built on nearby Reem Island.
When it opens on March 1, 2018, Al Maryah Central alone expects to attract between 20 million and 25 million visitors a year, potentially taking visitors away from Yas Mall.