Bahrain praised for shopping centre drive
Manama, February 21, 2009
Bahrain has won acclaim for major developments in the shopping centre sector in 2008, during which three major shopping centres were opened.
“The outstanding development of shopping centres in the region last year has been outstanding; we have seen the opening of one of the largest shopping centres in the world which is the Dubai Mall along with having one of the largest and most remarkable shopping centres in the Middle East residing in Bahrain,” said Maher Al Shaer, president of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres.
“Bahrain has the prospects to be a leader in the retail business due to its business friendly features and its increasing tourist numbers not to mention the great support and attention the government has been giving this sector,” Al Shaer added.
“The local tourism sector have benefited greatly from the increasing retail space that secured the kingdom as a shopping destination in the region and this puts more responsibility on shopping centres to secure a sustainable easy access/exit and well secured centres that will guarantee a good family atmosphere.
“In 2008, Bahrain has seen the opening of three very notable shopping centres, namely Bahrain City Centre (BCC), Moda Mall, and Country Mall along with the opening of Seef Mall's new extension. This major retail market development is the biggest in the Kingdom's history; it is a very notable jump which clearly shows the confidence of investors in Bahrain.”
This increases Bahrain's share in the Middle East's $500 billion retail market, a market that has developed in just well over two decades to host more than 500 international brands and promises to increase in the midst of the surge of emerging shopping centres in the region where new countries like Iraq and Syria joining the hype and new notable developments coming up in Iran & North Africa.
The region will witness the establishment of state of the art shopping centres in 2009 including Dubai's Mirdiff City Centre & Kuwait's 360 degrees.
Bahrain is expecting the launch of The Lagoon project and the completion of BCC's offerings with the opening of the largest cinema complex in the region and the largest indoor/outdoor water park.
Shopping centres began to bring in promising entertainment concepts (Magic planet, Ski Dubai & the Dubai Mall Aquarium to name a few) which are bringing more and more footfall as those offerings are unique and make the centres that have them evolve into destinations.
It is also important to highlight Mall of Arabia in Dubai, One of the world’s largest malls when completed, it will offer more than 1,400 retail outlets, a rooftop hotel, waterfront alfresco dining and entertainment facilities, as well as a Restless Planet theme park, earth science museum and planetarium which will create the largest entertainment offerings in a shopping centre in the region.
The Bahraini shopping centre scene has always concentrated on one stop shopping centres as it proved to be very popular and this trend have just seen an upgrade with one of the largest shopping centres in the region taking Bahrain as its home with the opening of the BCC which comes with a promise to change the shopping centre scene in Bahrain bringing a world class shopping, leisure & entertainment experience.
Seef Mall’s new extension, as well Lulu hypermarket's new Riffa outlet, has already proved to be popular. In addition, Moda Mall in Bahrain's World Trade Centre has reported improvement in its opening.
As the global economic slowdown hits the shores of the GCC countries, there is going to be a clear slow down in upcoming projects, however this could be of benefit to the retail market to look back and be able to be more focused on existing units & centres and be able to develop even more.
It is also important to note that even though the slowdown has hit