By Armina Ligaya  www.thenational.ae

Shoppers at Mall of the Emirates will have 40 more luxury stores to peruse from September 1 when it opens a 10,500 square metre extension.

Construction on the new wing, built at a cost of just under Dh500 million (US$136.1m), is complete but the retailers are fitting out the new shops, said Shahram Shamsaee, the senior vice president of retail for the developer Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Shopping Malls.

The extension is the latest in a wave of new retail space in Dubai after the opening of major shopping centres such as Dubai Mall and Mirdif City Centre in the past two years. The large supply has resulted in a drop in the average cost of renting new shop space in Dubai, analysts say. Still, Mr Shamsaee said Mall of the Emirates continued to see a steady stream of visitors, along with retailers who want to rent space in the mall. “If we could build that extension three times its current size, it would probably have been taken up by retailers within four weeks,” he said. “The demand for space in Mall of the Emirates is by far ahead of any centre in MENA.”

Customer traffic at Mall of the Emirates is “slightly up” on last year, said Mr Shamsaee. By the end of the year, he expects footfall to be between 3 and 5 per cent ahead of last year’s figures, which were on par with that of the retail boom in 2008.

“The centre was going through some major construction of the extension, which can sometimes put some customers off,” he said. “To have [that] sort of challenging business environment and construction … it’s incredible to be able to generate footfall and returns.”

The new extension has been designed in the style of the existing mall, Mr Shamsaee said. After the new wing opens, MAF intends to revamp its food and beverage sections in the mall by removing outdated brands and replacing them with new restaurants, he said.

Mall of the Emirates has 466 stores across 220,000 sq metres, as well as Ski Dubai, the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and snow park.

aligaya@thenational.ae

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