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Featuring: P14 KINAN & ELAF GROUP Signs Memorandum Of Understanding P18 THE CLOCK TOWERS SHOPPING CENTER 20 Million Visitors Annually P16 AZAD PROPERTIES Moving Towards A Sustainable Future POWERING THE FUTURE OF RETAIL WITH CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY


48 Al Habtoor Group to Reopen Retail Space at Beirut Property

Region’s First Luxury Decor and Home Furnishing Mall Opens in Dubai

49 UAE’s Sharaf Retail Opens Cotton On’s 11th Store in Dubai Mall

Apparel Group Dominates Fashion Retail Landscape with Major Expansion

50 Majid Al Futtaim Joins Forces with FOO to Transform Customer Experience

Americana Restaurants Has Its Eyes Set on Saudi Expansion

51 VIA Riyadh Opens its Doors to Visitors with a Luxurious Twist

EssilorLuxottica Expands into Arabian Gulf with Chalhoub Group


52 Wendsy’s Turns to AI-Powered Chatbots for Drive-Thru Orders

Google Co-Founders Gain $18 Billion as AI Boost lifts Stock

Apple to Open 1st Online Shop in Vietnam in a Push to Emerging Market

Coffee Chain Tim Hortons to Open Stores in South Korea

LVMH Becomes First European Company to Exceed $500B Market Value

Ikea to Open New Stores in US with Huge Investment

53 Australian Boho Brand Spell Opens its PopUp in Los Angeles

Mango Accelerates US Expansion with 15 Store Openings Planned for 2023

Elie Saab Opens First Flagship Store in Saudi Arabia

Amazon Overhauls Delivery Network, Seeking Faster Delivery, Profit

Panda Express Unveils New Store Model

H&M Returns to Tokyo’s Ginza with Cafe and Interior

CONTENTS PUBLISHED BY: THE RETAIL PEOPLE MAGAZINE CONTACT US: Mariz Matocdo | +971 56 548 1380 /+971 55 551 7605 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! If you would like to contribute an article, place an advertisement for our next issue or share your comments, suggestions or ideas, contact Disclaimer: The viewpoints, articles and opinions contained in the Retail People Magazine are not necessarily those of MECS+R. 8 14 16 Christian Baldonanza Digital Media & Innovation Manager
Goods SINCE 1994 T h e Middle E a s t Counci l O f S h o p p gni eC n t r e s & iateR l e r s • 06 WELCOME REMARKS ON THE COVER 08 YARDI Shaping the Future of Real Estate with Cloud-Based Technology Featuring: YARDI Middle East Team: Said Haider, Ali Radwan, Yasmin Zakaria, Rami Abou Ghanem, Haitham Hassoun SHOPPING CENTRE UPDATE 14 Kinan & Elaf Group Signs MOU 16 Azad Properties Moving Towards A Sustainable Future 18 The Clock Towers Shopping Center 20 Million Visitors Every Year 20 City Centre Bahrain #bealight Campaign Helps Thousands of Orphans 22 Al Liwan: A New Mixed-Use Real Estate Icon in Bahrain 24 Times Square Center Launches ‘The Confidence Lab’ FEATURE 26 Revitalizing Retail Assets is Your Only Way to Stay in the Retail Game 28 Transform Your Mall into the Ultimate Destination 30 Cinema Forever! 32 Becoming a Global Leader 34 Frictionless Retail: A Quick Guide 36 Peet’s Crafts Coffee Partnership with Americana Restaurant 38 The 3 x 3 x 3 Learning Model 40 Meeting Consumer Demands for A Greener Future 42 Imkan’s Pixel Plaza: A Unique Lifestyle Destination in Abu Dhabi 44 D1 Clubs: Technology and Humanization for An Integrated Experience in Saudi Arabia 46 Cracking the Productivity Code to Win in Trade Shows RETAIL PEOPLE | MAY - JUL 2023 .3


Welcome to the exhilarating Q2 issue of The Retail People Magazine, where we delve into the dynamic realm of retail and explore how cutting-edge technology is reshaping its future. We are thrilled to present Yardi Middle East as our featured cover story, shedding light on their exceptional journey in shaping the real estate landscape with cloud-based technology.

Since 1984, Yardi has evolved into the premier provider of high-performance software solutions for the real estate industry. Their unwavering commitment to innovation has propelled them to where they are right now. Yardi has cemented its position as a true industry leader, pushing boundaries and transforming the way real estate professionals operate.

In 2012, Yardi set foot in the Middle East with just two employees and a handful of clients. Fast forward to the present day, the company now boasts a dedicated team of over 80 professionals, passionately serving more than 100 clients across the region. Within these pages, you will find an exclusive interview with Said Haider, Senior Director of Middle East Sales at Yardi, who graciously shares insights into the rapidly expanding real estate market in the region. His expertise and perspective shed light on the key trends and opportunities that lie ahead, highlighting the pivotal role Yardi continues to play in driving the industry forward.

This issue of RPM is filled with captivating articles, offering a comprehensive overview of the retail landscape in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. From revitalizing retail assets to transforming malls into ultimate destinations, we explore the innovative strategies and forward-thinking approaches that are shaping the future of shopping centres.

Moreover, we delve into the enduring presence of cinema in the retail experience, uncover the power of frictionless retail and how technology is streamlines the shopping process, enhance customer satisfaction, and revolutionizes business-consumer engagement.

Furthermore, this edition is brimming with our signature sections, News Brief and What’s New, providing you with a roundup of the latest industry happenings, noteworthy developments, and exciting innovations. We keep you at the forefront of the retail revolution, equipping you with the knowledge to thrive in this rapidly changing landscape.

On behalf of The Retail People Magazine and MECS+R, we extend our deepest gratitude to Yardi Middle East for their invaluable contribution to this issue. We are honored to showcase their remarkable achievements and the pivotal role they play in shaping the real estate industry. Our appreciation also goes to our sponsors: The Clock Towers Shopping Center, Times Square Center, Kinan International Real Estate Development Company, AZAD Properties and Marie France. Lastly, we thank all our contributors for enriching this edition with their insightful articles.

Immerse yourself in the pages ahead and let the stories, insights and ideas inspire you. The future of retail is here, and together, we have the power to shape it.

Happy reading!

Featuring: P14 KINAN & ELAF GROUP Signs Memorandum P18 P16 AZAD PROPERTIES Moving Towards A POWERING THE FUTURE OF RETAIL WITH CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY ON THE COVER: YARDI MIDDLE EAST Shaping the Future of Real Estate with Cloud-Based Technology
MECS+R Board Treasurer Vice
MECS+R Board Member Acting Chief Commercial Officer Seef Properties SAAD ZUBERI MECS+R Board Member Executive Director
Landmark (Pvt.) Limited
DUAIJ AL RUMAIHI Board President | MECS+R Mall Director,
City Centre
Bahrain DAVID MACADAM Chief Executive Officer MECS+R YOUNUS AL MULLA MECS+R Chairman Senior Vice President Business Devt. & Govt. Affairs Majid Al Futtaim Retail
AL RUMAIHI MECS+R Board President Mall Director, City Centre Bahrain Majid Al Futtaim Properties
Board Vice President Director of Marketing Merex Investment Group
President - Real Estate AGI Real Estate LLC
“Technologyisnotjustatoolforretail;itisthecatalystthatpropelsusintoafuture whereimaginationknowsnoboundsandpossibilitiesarelimitless.”–Unknown

s an asset, property management & commercial development company based in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Founded in 2017, Azad specializes in real estate activities and

Azad unlocks the potential of its real-estate portfolio by developing and operating properties around the Kingdom; creating and managing great spaces that cater to investors, retailers and tenants. We aim to form

Cornish Commercial Center @azad_properties Azad Properties
Azad Properties won two awards at Corniche Commercial Center 2022 - Best Thematic Decoration and Traditional Marketing Award for Outstanding Customer Service Experience during Ramadan.


Shaping the Future of Real Estate with Cloud-Based Technology

The value chain gaps in the real estate industry today present numerous opportunities to embrace digital transformation and shape what the ecosystem will look like in the next 10 years.

Real estate investment, fund, asset, and property managers must embrace digitisation because it provides enhanced data, a single source of truth and better reporting. It allows you to stay

ahead of competitors, helps you focus on business objectives and provides an improved service to clients.

Yardi prides itself on the continued innovation of its platform with cloud-based, mobile-ready solutions that help clients streamline and modernise business processes that add value to every aspect of the real estate lifecycle.

Said Haider, Ali Radwan, Yasmin Zakaria, Rami Abou Ghanem, Haitham Hassoun (L-R)

Yardi Global

Established in 1984, Yardi has grown exponentially over the last four decades to become the leading provider of high-performance software solutions for the real estate industry.

The company’s award-winning, cloud-based technology helps property and asset managers reduce the costs of managing properties, improves operational efficiency and allows real estate professionals to focus on adding value.

Yardi now operates from 40+ offices across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia and continues to leverage big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence to further innovate their solutions for real estate management.

Yardi Middle East

Yardi started operating in the Middle East in 2012 with two employees and a handful of clients – today, the company employs 80+ dedicated professionals and works with over 100 clients in the Middle East, making it one of its fastestgrowing regions.

Yardi has evolved into a leading provider of property management software in the Middle East with a proven track record of success across retail, commercial and residential real estate.

“We have successfully identified and built requirements within the region into our products to provide clients with innovative technology solutions that will fundamentally change how we live, work and play, including how we utilise space.” Said Haider, Senior Director of Middle East Sales, Yardi

Real Estate Runs on Yardi

The real estate industry is constantly evolving and requires adaptability and real-time data access

to stay ahead. Yardi’s comprehensive end-to-end solutions are highly scalable and cater to various real estate offerings across commercial, residential, and retail markets. It offers a range of functionalities, including property management, accounting, leasing, maintenance, budgeting, forecasting, marketing, CRM, and more.

Yardi’s end-to-end, cloud-based technology helps you manage your entire business lifecycle through one fully integrated solution.

Said Haider, Senior Director of Middle East Sales for Yardi, spoke to us with an update on the region’s rapidly growing real estate market.

We have successfully identified and built requirements within the region into our products to provide clients with innovative technology solutions that will fundamentally change how we live, work and play, including how we utilise space.

1. How do you position Yardi in the real estate management market?

Yardi develops and supports industry-leading investment, asset and property management software for all types and sizes of real estate companies. With over 8,500 employees, Yardi is working with clients globally to drive significant innovation in the real estate industry.

We provide our clients with superior products and outstanding customer service through an end-to-end real estate platform for all aspects of the property lifecycle. In recognition of our innovation, Yardi has made the prestigious Forbes Cloud 100 list every year since its launch in 2016.

Yardi is dedicated to the development and support of software for the Middle East real estate industry designed for portfolios that cover a wide range of asset classes including residential, office, retail and industrial. Our end-to-end solution helps automate processes, drive efficiencies, reduce costs and provide business intelligence to help minimise risk and improve strategic decision making. Cloud-based and mobile-ready, Yardi provides full business solutions with comprehensive front and back-office services that are integrated into a single system.

We launched our flagship product, Yardi Voyager, in the Middle East in 2012 and almost immediately saw high demand across multiple vertical markets. We were able to replace customised solutions with a Software as a Service platform that fulfils virtually all business operations requirements out of the box. This allowed companies to focus more on their business and worry less about the tools. We have seen a 40% average annual growth rate in the area over the past 10 years. Our clients have varied real estate portfolios and almost 90% of retail space in the UAE is managed with Yardi software.

2. What are Yardi’s latest offerings in the Middle East?

Yardi keeps bringing new solutions and features to help our clients increase their efficiency and offer more functionality in a single platform, eliminating the need for complex interfaces. We have recently released a valuation module that allows clients to value existing commercial assets quickly and easily, using data from the Yardi property management platform. Yardi Valuation Manager uses industry-standard assumptions and calculation methodologies to create asset-based long term cash flow models, resulting in an asset valuation.


We also developed and released a new module for coworking and shared space operators called Yardi Kube. This is Yardi’s latest addition to the Voyager product line that addresses the growing market space for shared workspace environment. The global coworking space market is expected to touch $19.05 billion in 2023. Additionally, we introduced a solution to manage debts for clients who are borrowers. Yardi Debt Manager integrates with Yardi Voyager to track debt against real estate collateral and account for loans by paying lenders through invoices or journalizing transactions. It is also integrated with Yardi Investment Accounting to manage investments in debt. Yardi Payment Processing is required to automate billing borrowers and collecting principal and interest.

By early 2024, we will be introducing a new solution called Yardi Floorplan Manager, a module that enables visual representation of all the spaces in a client’s portfolio. For retail: where is this unit relative to the mall entrance? How much foot traffic am I likely to get? For an office: How many desks can I fit? Where should I position the meeting rooms? Etc.

The solution will allow our clients to centrally store, view and export floorplans, edit and create floorplan versions, auto calculate rentable and usable areas and approve and activate new floorplans. In addition, clients will be able to create, combine or split units, save scenarios to send to prospects and utilise for forecasting or construction estimates, all from the floorplan itself.

3. What type of clients does Yardi have in the Middle East, and what type of real estate do they manage or hold?

Our clients range from residential blocks to offices, private equity, asset, and property service companies to government-linked companies as well as some of the largest owners and developers of shopping centres in the Middle East. Clients use Voyager to manage real estate assets across the Middle East including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Turkey.

4. From your point of view, how has the readiness for digitalisation changed among retail companies? Has Covid-19 been a driver?

For a lot of companies, the pandemic pushed them to rethink their strategies and it hasn’t stopped. In the 2022 Yardi Proptech Survey, we found that 46% of businesses do not consider proptech adoption as a high priority compared to other business initiatives. However, nearly 70% of participants recognise that the adoption of technology is now a business topic. Businesses are starting to realise that technology is required to run their business better.

However, despite people in the industry recognising the importance of tech in driving the future of business, nearly 46% are classifying this topic as a low priority – they’re succumbing to the idea that they are not ready to digitise, which is an underlying issue that we need to change. The real question is, what is my cost if I don’t invest?

Digitalisation is a strategic business decision that drives the future of an organisation. Investing in technology is fundamental, but businesses need to be prepared to undergo this process before they can get to the other side of innovation.

5. Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT are currently more popular than ever before. How do you use AI in your business?

We utilise AI and machine learning within our solutions, such as the residential and commercial suite. These asset management solutions deep dive into operational data and go beyond presentation with predictive insights and prescriptive recommendations. These intuitive solutions help elevate portfolio performance by lowering costs, balancing risk and increasing revenue.

Every process in real estate, whether it’s residential, retail, commercial or even coworking, is digitalised in our platform. We have seen in the industry that clients and customers are gathering their data from different places and aren’t focusing on having a strong data foundation. A strong data foundation can be utilised for AI, predictive analysis, and the future of their business.

Based on each factor, for example, if I want to increase rent or reduce rent, the KPIs and predictive analysis we receive from AI can help us make the right decisions. So, we believe having a strong data foundation in place and aggregating this data will help companies be more productive and make better decisions in their future operations.


6. What else is new to report from your company that has or could have an impact on the retail real estate industry?

We work closely with clients to ensure our solutions can support their requirements. As the market changes, the business requirements change, so our solutions need to be flexible and adapt to any changes in business processes and business operations.

Yardi solutions have already helped clients save over 30 hours of data gathering and strategic planning, reduced the leasing planning cycle by 40% and saved 50% of time from automatic reporting. The end-to-end solution helps to easily evaluate current and future occupancy with visual floor plans, helps attract prospects, improves customer experience, and provides better analytical insights with a click of a button.

Our technology helps clients scale their business and save time through automation. The retail sector generates more data each month than most vertical real estate markets. Businesses need to move away from spreadsheets as you can’t gain valuable insights into your data or trends. It makes it difficult to find the right information and involves a lot of manual input.

Automation is key to success as you can optimise your shopping centre revenue. Proptech solutions, such as Yardi’s that are specifically for retail operators, help remove manual processes and allow them to improve the customer experience and attract prospects.

7. What are your corporate goals until the end of the year?

As we look to 2023, data and technology are still important factors in real estate. There is recognition that proptech is an important factor in business, as mentioned previously. However, companies need to understand the true ROI of technology.

We shouldn’t be relying on outdated software that requires a lot of manual input when proptech can save 50% of your time through automation alone. You cannot afford to not invest in technology, especially when planning for growth – there are a lot of overhead costs, but technology can help you save money and scale your business.

This year we will continue to demonstrate to the industry the true value of a single connected solution. Our commercial offering is strong with solutions such as Retail Manager and Deal Manager that are developed for niche market needs. We will continue to help real estate businesses thrive with the use of a connected solution and one source of truth. By investing in the right technology and understanding the true ROI, real estate owners and operators can transform the way their business operates.

Said Haider is the Senior Director of Middle East Sales at Yardi. A seasoned executive with 16+ year record of achievement – 10 of which were spent with Yardi – successfully driving multimillion-dollar revenue growth. Leading the sales and business development efforts for the company, his visionary leadership, extensive knowledge of the real estate industry, and passion for technology has helped drive Yardi’s growth across the region.




Kinan International Real Estate Development Company and Elaf Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a management agreement in addition to supervising the preparation of designs for the construction of the hotel within the Aliat Mall project in Medina for 15 years. The mall also includes an area of modern retail stores, restaurants, and a cinema, in addition to the hotel.

The key goals of the MoU between Kinan International Real Estate Development Company and Elaf Group includes overseeing the implementation of 230 rooms and suites in line with the highest standards set out by the Ministry of Tourism, as well as demands of the visitors of Medina, with an investment of more than 220 million Saudi Riyals. The project is estimated to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.

The MoU was signed by Eng. Nidal Abdulmajeed Jamjoom, Managing Director and CEO of Kinan International Real Estate Development Company and Dr. Adel Ezzat, CEO of Elaf Group. Eng. Jamjoom, said: “We are delighted to partner with Elaf Group, a prominent company in the hospitality and tourism sector of Saudi Arabia. We anticipate the MoU with Elaf Group to significantly contribute to the national strategies of enhancing the standards of living by boosting the quality of hospitality services offered to pilgrims and Umrah performers, which will further give them the opportunity to enjoy the one-of-its-kind Saudi Arabian hospitality. The new project will feature unique and remarkable architecture in Medina. It is expected to be a vital addition to the tourism and hospitality sector of the Kingdom, as it expects to witness massive growth.


Our MoU with Elaf Group will contribute to this growth, by providing exceptional services to pilgrims and visitors through this new hotel.”

Dr. Ezzat said: We are happy to sign this MoU with Kinan International Real Estate Development Company. In line with the MoU, we seek to expand our bilateral collaboration to benefit both sides as well as the hotel industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition, we will improve our efforts to advance the hospitality sector’s growth, enhance pilgrims’ and

visitors’ experiences, and increase the quality and efficacy of services provided in the Hajj and Umrah business. In order to support the country’s Vision 2030 and the goal of hosting 100 million visitors yearly by 2030, we will keep expanding our business.”

With six residential projects in Riyadh and Jeddah on an area of over 6 million square meters, Kinan International Real Estate Development Company is one of the top Saudibased companies in the field of developing and management residential communities and malls in Saudi Arabia. Kinan also operates 10 commercial centres across six different cities in Saudi Arabia.

Elaf Group, a pioneer in the hospitality and tourist sectors, runs a network of hotels that have received multiple awards and has more than 40 years of expertise in the field. The group has a prestigious reputation both locally and internationally. The Group has made a name for itself as a pioneer in the provision of first-rate hospitality services for travelers, pilgrims, and Umrah performers over the years.

Eng.NidalAbdulmajeedJamjoom(MD&CEOofKinan)andDr.AdelEzzat (CEOofElafGroup)signedtheMemorandumofUnderstanding (R-L)

The key goals of the MoU between Kinan International Real Estate Development Company and Elaf Group includes overseeing the implementation of 230 rooms and suites in line with the highest standards set out by the Ministry of Tourism.


Azad Properties is an asset property management and commercial development company founded in 2017. Azad specializes in real estate activities and projects including retail, workshops and other commercial properties.

Azad unlocks the potential of its real-estate portfolio by developing and operating properties around the Kingdom; creating and managing great spaces that cater to investors, retailers, and tenants. Along the Saudi Vision 2030, Azad intends to bring about real development of its properties in Saudi Arabia by introducing innovative solutions in real estate. It plans on accelerating the business and entertainment sectors to improve the facilities made available to the Saudi public.

Azad Properties is developing and operating 12 commercial projects across Saudi Arabia in the past 6 years, focusing on innovation and improvement. One of their most significant projects is Souq7, a commercial project located in Jeddah’s Al Jamea District. The project aims to provide a renewed and safe shopping experience by offering specialized

showrooms in 7 specialized zones. Souq7 project’s grand inauguration was attended by high-profile guests, emphasizing its strategic importance. Azad Properties is committed to bringing positive change to the retail industry and improving facilities for the Saudi public through their innovative designs and safety measures.

The Cornish Commercial Center is situated at the heart of Jeddah’s historic Al Balad District. The Cornish Commercial Center is a renowned destination that attracts many visitors for its diverse range of shops, restaurants, and attractions. It is a popular hub for shoppers, offering a variety of products such as perfumes, cosmetics, fashion and textile stores, accessories, and watches, as well as a few ethnic restaurants.

Another Azad-made establishment in Jeddah-Saudi Arabia is Darraja Center. It is famously placed as one of the main go-to destinations for furniture, carpets, and decoration and was recently revamped for a customer friendly experience. Containing a total of 271 stores.


Taba Center, also known as the Al Shamil Commercial Center, is a noteworthy development located in a bustling district that is highly sought-after by locals and tourists alike. The strategic location of Taba Center adds to its appeal, making it a popular destination

Azad also owns Industrial Gate, also known as Bawabat Al Senaya. It is one of the largest industrial districts in Riyadh. Line-shops, warehouses, and workspaces, Azad strives for improvement and recently rebranded it to meet the needs of the modern age customers. Then there’s Center 17. It is a commercial complex that includes modern furniture exhibitions as well as home and office décor. Found in Riyadh & recently rebranded to improve market standards for all types of customers.

Al Alam Mall is a Riyadh-based duality project of customer convenience, combining retail stores on the ground floor and apartments on the first floor. Along with Al Khazzan Buildings, it is considered one of the oldest real estate properties in the Kingdom’s capital city.

Azad Achievements

Over the past few years, Azad has explored the Saudi real estate industry with a visionary enthusiasm and market knowledge, with the aim of ensuring a meaningful boost to property management through a blend of local spirit and international expertise.


Azad Properties was awarded as the fastest growing property management company by the Global Business Outlook Awards in 2022.

Azad was also awarded for Best Thematic Decoration at Corniche Commercial Center 2022. The Award honors outstanding achievements in marketing, branding, CSR, and Social Innovation that aim to believe that excellence is infinite.

The Corniche Commercial Center won the Traditional Marketing Award for its Outstanding Customer Service Experience for 2022.

Azad Properties was awarded as one of Saudi Arabia’s Great Place to Work 2022, demonstrating the company’s commitment to building a progressive workplace.

In summary, the fine execution of perfecting the procedures of property management and commercial development is distinctly visible through Azad Properties’ career. Driven at the core by innovation and improvement, Azad Properties contribution to the enhancement of the overall cultural and business quality of Saudi Arabia remains the ultimate current and future purpose.


Ayman has 20+ years of experience in asset management, sales, and business development in commercial and residential sectors. Prior to joining AZAD in 2017, he was the Chief Commercial Officer at AWJ Holding and the COO of Anan Holding. He worked at Kinan International Real Estate Company and Savola Group for 10 years.




The Clock Towers Shopping Center is a destination that caters to the needs of all visitors in Makkah and from around the world, with leading local and international restaurants and retail stores that are now open. It is a testament to how one shopping center can evolve and include three different worlds that offer visitors unique experiences gathered in one place.

All visitors of the 7 Clock Tower Hotels need to pass by the shopping center to reach their hotels, giving all retail stores and restaurants exposure to the daily 60 thousand visitors. The shopping center team has worked relentlessly to provide the best services and the widest variety of brands, restaurants, and cafes.

As the biggest shopping center in Makkah, it sets high standards to achieve the goal of becoming the most unique, renowned, and unforgettable experience to any pilgrimage or umrah visitor to complete their trip in Makkah.

The Clock Towers Shopping Center meets every visitor’s desire, offering a range of contrasting worlds of traditional or modern ambiances. The first two stories of the 11-story shopping center consist of The Clock Souk, which takes visitors back in time with its local souvenir shops and stops, providing the perfect Arabian feel and vibe with its various traditional stores. The next four stories consist of the Clock Towers Shopping Center,


offering more than 600 retail stores of clothing brands, restaurants, and cafes, some of which are still available for lease. It is a one-stop destination as it offers a food court, money exchange office, pharmacy, and more. The last four stories of the shopping center, The Clock Heights, will offer upon completion a luxurious feel through their highestquality clothing brands with the utmost fashionable styles. Each section of the shopping center provides visitors with high-standard services and unique features and amenities. Visitors can enjoy each section’s many unique entertaining facilities and travel between the 11-story shopping center for a fun adventure. They can explore what each world has to offer.

The Clock Towers Shopping Center offers the first of its kind Kids Nursery, in all of the Central District of Makkah. Allowing all parents to perform their umrah, pray or shop, while their kids are being taken care of by the most professional team. The parents will get to spend some quality time, and fully enjoy their experience with a peace of mind.

The Clock Towers Shopping Center has become the perfect meeting point for cultural diversity, with more than 20 million visitors from around the world visiting the shopping center every year. Its shops, clothing brands, restaurants, and cafes satisfy every visitor’s taste, giving them a variety of options to choose from.

Visitors of the Clock Souk can wander around between the stores for an unprecedented experience, choosing their favorite souvenir to remember their visit by. Some retail stores are still available for lease, located at a very crowded shopping center with visitors looking to shop!

As for the visitors of the Clock Towers Shopping Center, they can enjoy a range of retail stores of clothing brands, restaurants, and cafes, some of which are also still available for lease. It is a one-stop destination, offering everything visitors need.

The Clock Heights is for visitors who want to experience a luxurious feel through the highest-quality clothing brands with the utmost fashionable styles to explore. The modern feel of Clock Heights will always leave visitors wanting more. You can lease stores at the Clock Heights as well, and have high-end visitors explore what you have to offer.

Leasing managers looking for a retail store or restaurant location can benefit from the Clock Towers Shopping Center’s

reputation as a destination for cultural diversity. With its unique features and high-standard services, the shopping center provides a one-stop destination for Makkah visitors and for people from around the world.

The Clock Towers Shopping Center is a place that caters to the needs of all visitors. It helps leasing managers attract a diverse clientele, and makes it a great location to lease a retail store or restaurant.

Ahmed Abutalib is the Shopping Center Manager at The Clock Towers Shopping Center. He has a remarkable track record spanning 14 years in the retail and shopping centers industries. His expertise lies in serving prestigious brands within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, solidifying his position as a trusted professional. With a profound understanding of shopping center management, Ahmed showcases exceptional leadership, strategic thinking and a passion for creating unparalleled shopping experiences. His commitment to excellence has garnered him widespread recognition in the industry.





City Centre Bahrain, the largest shopping, entertainment, and lifestyle destination in the Kingdom, has brightened the lives of thousands of orphaned children this Ramadan through its inspiring community-driven initiative, #Bealight, that donated more than BD10,000 during the Holy Month.

Organised in collaboration with the Royal Humanitarian Foundation, the #Bealight campaign featured a bespoke installation located at the mall’s Central Galleria, where each of the lights that made up the installation represented an orphaned child. Each time a light was switched on by a visitor, the installation came to life, displaying a special light show and City Centre Bahrain made a financial donation on their behalf

to the Royal Humanitarian Foundation for the uplift of orphans across the Kingdom.

During the campaign, mall visitors and the local community were encouraged to participate in this noble cause and increase the donation by resetting all the lights. The initiative attracted more than 5,000 people from across the Kingdom – including distinguished public figures and cultural personalities – and an equal number of lights were lit at the #Bealight installation. The widespread participation in the campaign led to City Centre Bahrain raising more than BD10,000 in support of thousands of Bahraini orphans.


Commenting on the success and the legacy of the #Bealight campaign, Duaij Al Rumaihi, City Centre Bahrain Mall Director said: “As the Kingdom’s most sought-after lifestyle and shopping destination, City Centre Bahrain is steadfastly committed to giving back to society and nurturing sustainable local communities – which lies at the core of our vision at Majid Al Futtaim Malls. The opportunity to light up the lives of thousands of Bahraini orphans through the #Bealight campaign is our humble contribution towards that cause. We are delighted to spearhead this noble effort to make Ramadan a meaningful and joyous occasion for orphans across Bahrain – the commitment to local community uplift is embedded in our DNA and drives all our efforts to create a more inclusive and sustainable future.

We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of kindness and generosity that our customers and patrons showered on this unique campaign. We were honored to partner with the Royal Humanitarian Foundation, whose tireless charitable and philanthropic activities in Bahrain have transformed the lives of thousands of people.”

“We believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity in life, and the unique #Bealight campaign organized by City Centre Bahrain was a worthy cause stemming from this belief that rallied the community to actively contribute to uplift the lives of Bahraini orphans,” Dr. Mustafa Al-Sayed, Secretary-General of the Royal Humanitarian Foundation.

“The phenomenal success of the #Bealight campaign is not only a tribute to the keenness of Bahraini society and widely respected brands such as City Centre Bahrain to support all communities, but also testifies to the great impact and influence such collective efforts can have on our future generations.”

The #Bealight campaign was the latest in City Centre Bahrain’s illustrious history of mobilizing the local community in support of a worthy cause during Ramadan and celebrating some #GreatMoments together – thereby underscoring the mall’s leading role in community-driven development initiatives.

Whether it’s the array of technology-driven cuttingedge services, creating seamless phygital transactions, or expanding the exciting range of entertainment and dining options, City Centre Bahrain has always been at the forefront of providing customers with compelling shopping experiences and demonstrating the captivating power of retail.

Pioneering services such as complimentary delivery, electronic wheelchairs, portable chargers and free WiFi across the mall, City Centre Bahrain stands testament to the strength of its partnerships with leading brands and the success of Majid Al Futtaim’s commitment to expanding the mall’s physical and digital presence – living up to its motto of “creating great moments for everyone, every day”.

For more information visit





Seef Properties, a leading real estate development and management company in the Kingdom of Bahrain, has recently launched its latest project, Al Liwan, a mixed-use real estate icon located in Hamala. Al Liwan is designed to cater to the growing needs of the community, meet the demands of customers and partners, and contribute to the Kingdom’s economy. We had the pleasure of speaking to Ahmed Yusuf, CEO of Seef Properties, to discuss the inspiration behind Al Liwan and its features.

Can you tell us about the concept behind Al Liwan?

Al Liwan is a mixed-use real estate development that reflects the community lifestyle through its unique designs and exceptional facilities. The name “Al Liwan” comes from the Arabic language, which means the wide hall surrounded by dividing walls. This hall was used in the past to receive guests in old houses. We were inspired by every corner of this unique project from this standpoint. Our vision was to provide a distinctive experience for citizens, residents, and visitors from outside the Kingdom, through a contemporary style and vision.

What are some of the exceptional facilities and anchor tenants at Al Liwan, and how do they contribute to Bahrain’s economy?

Al Liwan occupies 120,000sqm, and the total leased area is 33,000sqm. It contains 117 housing residential units in four buildings bearing the names of trees known to Bahrain since ancient times and still present today. Additionally, there are 136 commercial units, which cover several service sectors, including entertainment, retail stores, restaurants, cafes, health centres, furniture, and others, to provide an exceptional shopping, entertainment, and hospitality experience for visitors of all tastes.

Danube, Yabeela, Al Nakheel Gym, and Al Liwan Cinema are the main anchor tenants at Al Liwan, attracting renowned brands on a regional and global level, many of which enter the Kingdom for the first time through Al Liwan.

With a total leased area of 33,000sqm, Al Liwan has created numerous job opportunities and continues to contribute to Bahrain’s thriving economy.

Can you tell us about some of the recent additions to Al Liwan, such as Yabeela and Danube Supermarket?

Yabeela is the largest indoor entertainment centre in the Kingdom of Bahrain, occupying 6,000m2. It includes more than 150 new family, sports, and interactive games that enter the Bahraini market for the first time, targeting different groups: children, adults, and families.

This family entertainment centre has become a new favourite entertainment destination for all family members in the heart of Al Liwan.

Additionally, Danube Supermarket recently opened, becoming the first branch of its kind in the Kingdom of Bahrain and Danube’s first outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It offers a selection of fresh and high-quality products, and exclusive imported goods, as well as specialized foods, fresh juices, and fish sections, in addition to the fresh products of Danube Bakery.


What role did Seef Properties play in selecting the list of tenants for the commercial units at Al Liwan?

We were very selective in choosing the list of tenants for the commercial units to meet the needs and aspirations of each visitor, with a focus on diversifying entertainment and retail options to ensure the best experience for Al Liwan visitors of all ages and interests. Our goal is to provide visitors with a unique and an exceptional experience that would keep them coming back.

Can you tell us about the cinemas in Al Liwan?

Al Liwan Cinema is the latest addition to the entertainment offerings in Al Liwan, and it encompasses seven cinema screens with a total capacity of over 1,000 seats. Five of these theatres provide VIP service, with exclusive access to a lounge area.

Al Liwan Cinema also features state-of-the-art laser projectors and sound systems, providing an immersive cinematic experience for moviegoers. The cinema will offer a wide range of movies, from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to international and independent films. There is also a dedicated section for kids’ movies, with regular screenings of popular animated movies.

How has Al Liwan been received by the local community?

Al Liwan has been very well-received by the local community. We have seen a steady stream of visitors since the opening, and we have received positive feedback about the design and amenities. Many visitors appreciate the mix of traditional and modern elements in the design, as well as the range of entertainment and retail options.

What are your plans for future development at Al Liwan?

We are always looking for ways to enhance the visitor experience at Al Liwan. We have plans to expand the retail and entertainment offerings and to host various events and activities throughout the year to keep visitors engaged and entertained.

Ahmed Yusuf is a seasoned real estate and project management expert, with over 28 years of experience in the field. He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Seef Properties, where he oversees the company’s extensive portfolio of assets across the Kingdom of Bahrain. With his leadership, Seef Properties has become a brand known for its innovative and diverse real estate portfolio.

Ahmed Yusuf played a crucial role in the development of Al Liwan, Seef Properties’ latest mixed-use project in Bahrain. He ensured that the project was completed on schedule and according to the pre-established plan. His contributions to the project’s success have further solidified Seef Properties’ reputation as a leading developer and manager of commercial and residential properties in the Kingdom of Bahrain.





Times Square Center, a leading community destination, based on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai continues its commitment to differentiate itself from other shopping centers in the UAE, by focusing on what the community really needs. The mall is moving away from the traditional model of being purely retail-focused, and focusing on creating a broader, more dynamic experience for visitors.

The training institute that caters to children, teens and adults helping them build courage, confidence and curiosity through courses and workshops focused on acting, communication skills and creative writing. Over the last 10 years, The Gaia Centre has guided around 3,000 learners of all ages in creative thinking and expression. Building on that experience, with The Confidence Lab, The Gaia Centre aims to


build powerful, confident, and creative learners and performers that will understand the importance of collaboration, courage, and creativity. With the opening of The Confidence Lab by Gaia Center, the homegrown brand venture promotes digital usage well-being through a special feature known as ‘Digital Zen’.

In response to the changing preferences of consumers, Times Square Center recognizes that the community shoppers are seeking one-stop-shop destinations that offer more than just daily essentials. Visitors to the mall want an experience that goes beyond shopping and includes opportunities for social interaction. Nonetheless, the mall is also committed to providing just that and is actively seeking retailers who can creatively drive foot traffic and increase dwell times to boost revenue productivity. Times Square Center favors’ smaller retail tenants known as micro-mini retail space tenants, who focused on community-type products and experiences and whose target groups tend to be mainly youth and younger adults. These brands operate on smaller overheads and bring concepts that are extremely popular in other parts of the world, to the city of Dubai, that essentially, have been missing here for years.

As a friendly neighborhood destination, Times Square Center is dedicated to being a place for the whole family. By creating experiences that visitors can’t find elsewhere, the community mall is positioning itself as a unique and relevant destination that is beyond a shopping center. Times Square Center is committed to working closely with the community and is actively seeking feedback to ensure it continues to meet the evolving needs of its visitors.

Nancy Ozbek is a career retail industry professional with more than 20 years of experience. Prior to joining the dynamic team at Times Square Center as the General Manager, Nancy held several senior leadership positions across various renowned malls and community centres in the UAE such as Al Hanaa Centre, Al Ghurair Centre, Ibn Battuta Mall, The Mall in Jumeirah and Deerfields Mall. She has taken responsibilities in all aspects of the mall management from leasing, tenant relations, business planning, finance, facilities and operational management to maintenance, mall inspections and safety functions.



Konrad is a seasoned retail executive with over 20 years of GCC experience in managing commercial assets. He became an expert in retail and mixed-use asset management, focusing on the operation, commercialization and revitalization of new and non-performing assets, as well as the development of lifestyle destinations.

Retail centres, such as shopping malls and strip centres, have faced significant challenges in recent years due to the rise of online shopping and the changing habits of consumers. As a result, many of these centres have become outdated and unattractive to shoppers, leading to declining foot traffic and decreased sales. However, with the right approach to revitalization, these retail centres can once again become thriving destinations for consumers.

One of the key strategies for revitalizing retail centres is to focus on creating a lifestyle retail experience for shoppers. This means creating an engaging and immersive environment that goes beyond just shopping, and instead incorporates elements of entertainment, dining, and socializing. Lifestyle retail centres often feature unique architecture, landscaping, and lighting to create a cohesive and inviting atmosphere that draws shoppers in.

To create a successful lifestyle retail experience, it is important to offer a diverse mix of retailers and services that cater to the needs and interests of local consumers. This may involve incorporating more experiential retailers, such as those that offer interactive displays or hands-on activities, and focusing on unique and hard-to-find products that cannot be found online.

Lifestyle retail centres often feature a wide range of dining options, from fast-casual restaurants to gourmet eateries, as well as social spaces such as cafes, lounges, and outdoor seating areas. In order to make retail centres more attractive to consumers, it is also important to focus on the types of retailers and services that are offered. You may have to rethink the tenant mix by significantly increasing GLA share of the F&B options.


Another important aspect of lifestyle retail centres is incorporating events and activities that unite the community. This can include hosting concerts, art exhibits, and cultural festivals, as well as offering classes and workshops that allow shoppers to learn new skills and connect with others who share their interests. By creating a sense of community and belonging, lifestyle retail centres can become more than just a place to shop, but a destination for socializing, learning, and having fun.

In order to make lifestyle retail centres more attractive to consumers, it is also important to update the physical space itself. This may involve refreshing the facade and signage, improving lighting and other amenities, and incorporating green spaces and other natural elements to create a more inviting and relaxing atmosphere. Additionally, lifestyle retail centres often feature innovative design elements such as digital displays, interactive kiosks, and other cutting-edge technology that enhances the overall shopping experience.

Place-making can create a competitive advantage for developers in a crowded market. In today’s world, people are looking for unique experiences and places that are visually appealing and shareable on social media. By creating spaces that are “instagramable” and shareable, developers can attract attention, increase foot traffic, and generate interest in their development.

Revitalizing retail centres requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both the physical space and the overall shopping experience. By creating a lifestyle retail experience that incorporates elements of entertainment, dining, and socializing, as well as offering a diverse range of retailers and services, retail centres can become more attractive to consumers and better position themselves for long-term success.

To create a successful lifestyle retail experience, it is important to offer a diverse mix of retailers and services that cater to the needs and interests of local consumers.


Yasser Taher is the Chief Executive Officer of MAGRABi Retail Group. With more than 20 years at MAGRABi, and having served as Chief Operating Officer for 14 years, Yasser has successfully overseen the Group’s ongoing expansion and evolution, contributing to record results, and continually turning challenges into opportunities, as evidenced during the pandemic. Prior to joining MAGRABi, Yasser founded and managed multiple businesses in the luxury segment, of both jewelry and fashion. Yasser is also passionately engaged in mentoring and supporting young Arab graduates at the start of their careers.

Having worked at MAGRABi Retail Group for 22 years, I was honoured to take up the position of CEO earlier this year.

I am the first non-family member to become CEO, and that is why I feel especially privileged to lead this innovative organisation as we move onto the next chapter of our growth story, during which we will prepare the Group for global leadership.

The company has grown to become the leading eyecare and luxury eyewear retailer in the Middle East, since its founding in 1927, nearly 100 years ago by distinguished ophthalmologist Dr. Amin El-Maghraby, the grandfather of the current Chairman of our Group, Amin Magrabi.

I pay tribute to Amin for bringing us so far and accelerating our growth so effectively in the past 20 years particularly. For me, having dedicated over two decades of my career to MAGRABi Retail Group, I have watched it evolve under Amin’s leadership into an organization that has the power to move the industry forward.

When I joined the organization, our retail network consisted of 40 stores only, whereas now it includes 160+ stores across five countries, KSA, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt. My vision is to consolidate our leading position across the Middle East and unlock the opportunities that can enable us to transform the MAGRABi Retail Group into a global leader.

This strategic expansion relies on a new mission statement “Re-envisioning the world of eyewear to empower the lifestyles of millions.” It really is about taking an industry that’s quite an established, historic one and reinventing it. Moving it more into a lifestyle and experience, while also democratizing the sector.

We have a strong market segment strategy: to develop both the MAGRABi banner, as the largest luxury eyewear chain in the region, as well as our lifestyle chain DOCTOR M, multiple owned brands and a robust wholesale and distribution arm. We have opened the Lens Innovation Center (LIC), one of the world’s most


advanced facilities and one of the region’s biggest and most efficient manufacturers of ophthalmic lenses.

Making an impact is what I really would love to achieve. For me, that means delivering the growth.

My promotion marks the beginning of an inspiring new chapter for 2023 and beyond, with the unveiling of our strategic expansion plans, timed with a newly-formed leadership and board structure.

As the newly appointed CEO, I intend to drive the Group’s transformation with unrelenting vision, to position it as a worldclass leader in its category.

My plan is to capitalize on our team’s exceptional skills to expand the group further.

We have fantastic talent in this organisation. I feel this team is more than capable to become a global leader and it is my responsibility to make sure this happens. That is my role, as I see it – bringing together and motivating our great Magrabi team.

We are determined to succeed and grow. This year we relaunched the new Board, an entire new mission statement, updated core values, cultural norms, refreshed strategy house – the entire pack of organisation structure, strategy implementation office, performance management and KPIs.

The new leadership structure mirrors the transformation within the Group and will be followed by the announcement of an innovative and progressive Board of Directors structure.

This thought leadership in our Board and corporate governance is such that one of the world’s leading university business schools has asked to use Magrabi as a corporate case study.

These shifts are also strategically aligned with the Group’s accelerated gender equity commitments, targeting a 50:50 gender balance at all levels of the organization by 2025. Our target is ambitious - not just in the Middle East - but even in companies across Europe and the US.

I believe if we get super effective and efficient, then I will be able to scale up this organisation and ensure this great and strong team returns on our investment in them.

My role, as I see it, is someone who removes frictions. We have a great mission. We have a great strategy. If we simply remove all the frictions, we will scale up and become a truly global leader.




Whatever industry you work in, there is a special excitement to launching something new and growing it to scale. The entrepreneurial mindset that runs throughout Americana Restaurants’ business means we have this privilege every day. Our region is one of the most dynamic retail markets in the world, with an unmatched level of innovation and diversity across all segments. Middle Eastern consumers know and enjoy a huge range of retail concepts both local and international, and our markets are always at the leading edge of retail trends.

At Americana Restaurants, we operate over 2,100 restaurants encompassing iconic global brands like KFC, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s, Krispy Kreme, TGI Friday’s, Wimpy, and more. With over 50 years’ experience, we have become the largest out-ofhome dining and quick service restaurant operator in the markets we operate and intend to continue this growth story. Our rich history has enabled us to establish a reputation as a trusted and preferred franchisee for global brands. This made us a natural partner for Peet’s Coffee as they sought to grow their international footprint.

Coffee shops cut across cultural differences in the diverse populations of the GCC, offering one of the few universally relevant meeting spaces for the whole population. The specialty coffee segment is a rapidly growing space throughout the region. Peet’s combination of pioneering heritage and constant innovation gives it enormous potential in this youthful and fast-growing market. With 57

The incredible passion for coffee across the Middle East made our region an obvious next step as we bring the huge range of Peet’s blends to our adventurous customers.

years’ experience revolutionising the coffee market of the USA from its home in California, the brand has already successfully ventured overseas to China. The incredible passion for coffee across the Middle East made our region an obvious next step as we bring the huge range of Peet’s blends to our adventurous customers.

Guests are already enjoying Peet’s master-crafted blends and a broad selection of high-quality artisanal foodstuffs in the iconic Dubai Mall Fashion Avenue. An obvious location to introduce any brand to the Middle East, the Dubai Mall has a huge reach and reputation globally that matches our ambition for Peet’s Coffee.

“Peet’s devotion to the art and science of brewing the most flavorful cup of coffee is exceptional, and we are excited to expand the brand to new GCC markets this year” - Amarpal Sandhu, CEO of Americana Restaurants.

Following the much-anticipated launch, we are now actively securing additional locations to share Peet’s expertly roasted coffee. With sleek but comfortable architecture, the stores are set to become immediately recognisable destinations for all coffee lovers. Peet’s stores will allow our guests to indulge their senses as they travel through a barista led, personalised coffee journey at the signature Discovery Bar. Alternatively, visitors can pull up a chair and indulge their sweet tooth with treats such as

a Saffron and Pistachio Milk Cake. Ranging from the familiar to the adventurous, Peet’s 100% sustainably sourced blends offer something for everyone.

We are confident that sophisticated coffee consumers across the region will love Peet’s as much as we do, and we intend to introduce the brand elsewhere in the GCC in the medium term. Look out for a store near you soon!



Kamel Shaban is the CEO of SOLO, one of the fastestgrowing off-price retail brands in the UAE. He brings a wealth of experience in retail and a deep commitment to customer satisfaction. He leads the brand with integrity, professionalism, and a passion for his work.

“Be sustainable!” How often do you hear these two words in your lives? In school, at our workplace, while shopping and even while travelling. But what does sustainability mean? A simple explanation is “Sustainability is about reducing our ecological footprint on the planet.

With climate change consumers are increasingly looking to make more eco-friendly choices in their daily lives. This shift in consumer attitudes has put pressure on businesses to take action on sustainability, and the retail industry is no exception.

Sustainability in retail encompasses a wide range of initiatives, from reducing waste and carbon emissions to sourcing products and materials in a more ethical and sustainable way. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways that retailers are responding to the sustainability challenge and what impact these efforts are having.

Reducing Waste and Carbon Footprint

One of the key areas of focus for retailers looking to become more sustainable is reducing waste and their carbon footprint. This can involve initiatives such as:

Implementing Recycling and Waste Reduction Programs: Retailers can work to reduce the amount of waste they produce by implementing recycling programs, composting food waste, reducing the use of single-use plastics and using reusable bags and packaging materials, and donating unsold inventory to charitable organizations.

Energy-Efficient Store Design: Retailers can also reduce their carbon footprint by designing stores that use energy-efficient lighting and using natural light whenever possible.

Sourcing Sustainable Products and Materials

In addition to reducing waste and carbon emissions, retailers are also taking steps to source products and materials in a more sustainable way. This can involve initiatives such as:


Using Sustainable Materials

Retailers can work to source materials that have a lower environmental impact, such as bamboo, organic cotton, or recycled plastics. Some retailers are also experimenting with alternative materials such as mushroom-based leather and seaweed-based packaging.

Ethical Sourcing

Retailers can also work to ensure that the products they sell are produced in an ethical way and they can also choose suppliers that use sustainable practices such as regenerative agriculture and fair labour standards.

Sustainable Packaging

Retailers can reduce the environmental impact of their packaging by using recycled materials, designing packaging that is easy to recycle, or eliminating unnecessary packaging altogether. That’s why retailers can offer products that are designed to be reused or recycled, such as refillable water bottles and reusable shopping bags. They can also offer products that are made from sustainable materials or have a low environmental impact.

The Benefits of Sustainability in Retail

While there is a cost to implementing sustainability initiatives, there are also significant benefits for retailers. These include:

Improved Brand Reputation: Retailers that prioritize sustainability can build a positive brand reputation, which can be a competitive advantage in a crowded market.

Cost Savings: Implementing sustainability initiatives can also lead to cost savings over time, through reduced waste, energy efficiency, and other measures.

Increased Customer Loyalty: Customers are increasingly drawn to retailers that share their values, and sustainability is becoming a key factor in purchasing decisions.

Innovation: Adopting sustainable practices can drive innovation and lead to the development of new products and services.

2023 the Year for More Sustainable Actions in the UAE

There is a lot of hope and optimism in the UAE as it looks to become more sustainable in the future. The country has set 2023 as the year when it will begin to take more action on its environmental issues, including the reduction of plastic bags and the use of renewable energy.

Plastic Bags Complete Ban - It’s been almost six months since major cities of the UAE imposed a tariff on single-use plastic bags, but it won’t be long until the emirate bans them altogether. The policy is aimed at reducing waste and encouraging sustainable consumer behaviour.

Single-use plastic bags are a huge source of pollution. It takes decades, if not hundreds of years, for them to decompose. This is why they are being replaced by multi-use alternatives such as jute bags, canvas bags, cotton bags, juco bags, etc.

UAE plans to take several measures, including organizing awareness campaigns and speaking to producers of plastic. Those involved in the ban are also looking to share their experiences with other countries.

The United Arab Emirates will become the host of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) in Dubai, UAE, in 2023. It is an important opportunity for the United Arab Emirates to make a positive contribution to the climate change negotiations.

In conclusion, as consumers and governments become more conscious of their impact in a world where sustainability is increasingly important, retailers that fail to act risk being left behind.




Cameron has worked in the entertainment industry for 25 years, including 14 years as CEO of VOX Cinemas (Majid Al Futtaim). During his tenure at VOX Cinemas, the company delighted over 200m guests, expanding from 40 screens (1 country) to 650 screens (8 countries). Cameron consults on Entertainment globally, is the Executive Director of The National Association Of Cinema Operators, a Director of Creative Content Australia, and a member of the Griffith Film School Industry Advisory Board.

Cinema Is Enjoying Strong Growth Globally.

It is estimated that more than four billion cinema tickets were sold in 2022, with the global box office reaching $26 billion. Despite there being 36% fewer major releases in 2022 than in 2019 (USA’s Cinema Foundation), the EMEA box office grew by 52%, US box office by 65% with similar stellar results recorded in the UK (+62%) and Europe (+56%). YTD box office in most markets is enjoying doubledigit growth on the prior year, again highlighting that exciting well promoted diverse content with an appropriate release window, released across the full calendar year, will continue to drive attendance to new heights.

Streamers Are Not The Enemy!

Streaming platforms have grown in number and competence in recent years. Netflix initially had the lion’s share of content and monopolistic reach, however in recent years we have seen competition in the sector increase, which has proven positive for cinemas. As noted in an Ernst & Young report commissioned by the United States National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) in February 2020, “Those who attended movies in theatres more frequently also tended to consume streaming content more frequently. For every race and age demographic, average streaming hours per week were higher for respondents who visited a movie theatre 9 times or more than respondents who visited a movie theatre only once or twice. Streaming companies have identified the appeal of the cinema experience and are actively supporting it with content. Apple and Amazon recently announced that they will each be investing $1 billion annually in creating and promoting content to


be released in cinemas, confirming that cinema and streaming are, in fact, complementary to each other, with cinema amplifying the appeal and value of movie IP.

Middle East Exhibitors Continue To Lead Experience Standards Globally

The Middle East continues to set international standards in outof-home entertainment, not only in cinema, but in entertainment generally, and the rest of the world continues to watch closely with admiration. Middle East exhibitors have invested heavily in technology, content, world-class F&B offerings, IT systems, loyalty platforms, e-commerce solutions & NPS guest feedback programs, all with a view of understanding what guests want and empowering their exceptional teams to over-deliver on the guest experience.

The IMAX @ VOX Mall Of The Emirates is an example of a best-inclass regional experience, that continues to be one of the highestgrossing screens globally. Similarly, VOX Cinema’s F&B associations with the late Gary Rhodes, and more recently with Saudi chef Mona Mosly, ensures guests can enjoy exceptional F&B in the Middle East to further enhance the experience of cinemagoing. Muvi Cinemas in Saudi Arabia has launched a myriad of compelling cinema concepts and brands, and the company has diversified further launching Muvi Studios, which among other successes created the most successful Saudi Arabian film of all time Sattar. AMC in Saudi Arabia similarly operates to a very high standard, launching a compelling loyalty offering and several successful IMAX screens in prominent locations.

Cinema Will Continue To Anchor Developments Globally.

Cinema is over 125 years old. There is an often-quoted industry story of Netflix executives being laughed out of the room when they broached the suggestion of a partnership with Blockbuster in the 2000’s for $50m, only to later see Netflix valued at over $140 billion with >230m subscribers in 2022, and blockbuster becoming a childhood memory. Countless sector competitors have arisen, however like all businesses that face competition, cinemas globally have pivoted and enhanced their experiences and risen to a higher standard, and this evolution will continue.

New challenges will surface (Yes AI movies are coming), however, given we will continue to crave shared emotional experiences, cinema will continue to evolve and delight. Early box office estimates predict that the global box office will reach $32 billion (+23%) in 2023. The US Cinema Foundation further recently noted that the “Box office, on a film-by-film basis, has rebounded to 2019 levels, limited only by the number of wide releases in the marketplace. The number of wide releases in 2023 is more than 40% higher than 2022 and approaching the number of wide releases in 2019”.

Cinema is forever, the experience will continue to evolve, and cinema will remain the preferred out-of-home experience globally, that unites families and friends around the cultural shared experience of storytelling. #betterincinema





Shopping malls with huge surfaces at their disposal started filling the space with entertaining content. A lot of them transformed from just being a shopping mall to being a shopping mall that offers additional services like family entertainment centers.

And the best solution to turn your mall into a go-to destination is by placing a gokart track as a new anchor attraction of your center.

What is an anchor attraction and why a go-kart track is the best choice for it?

An anchor attraction is an attraction that attracts the majority of your visitors. Even if they spend no more than 15 minutes on it, the anchor attraction is the main reason people come all the way to your venue. And once they are there, they have all these other attractions seconds away and they’ll be spending entire afternoons at your place.


“Nowadays, the traditional shopping malls have experienced critically low foot traffic and a resultant drop in revenues. However, there is a way to make a comeback and attract more visitors: and that is by incorporating new attractions. And, once people are there, they are likely to spend more time at the venue and potentially more money. Additionally, with new tech, karting has become quieter, safer, and cleaner, and thus expanding the circle of fans as well as attracting families; and, today, go-kart attractions can be built into the relatively small space of about 900 sq m and can increase footfall by as much as 35-45%.” FEATURE
If the mall can’t provide a great experience, there’s no reason to go there because you can just buy what you want online!
Go-kart track represents a strong differentiation factor that increases footfall by 35-45%.

Why pick karting as your anchor attraction?

First and foremost – exclusivity. Most probably, there are not many other go-kart tracks in your area. Unlike arcades or trampolines, gokart arenas present a much higher barrier to entry.

Secondly, there is an inherent attraction that is linked to driving and racing inside every one of your visitors. You can offer your customers a chance to ride or race in a safe environment that allows for a big adrenaline rush. Go-karting is a dynamic physical experience that cannot be replicated online.

And to top it all off, go-kart arenas tend to guarantee a long-term business trajectory. It’s an activity that is easy to understand but hard to master, so your customers will return, trying to beat their personal bests time and time again. In addition to that, an attractive track guarantees protection of the area you are in, due to the high barrier to entry.

A go-kart track in the middle of a shopping mall … Why not?

Shopping malls are not the easiest places to fit a go-kart track in. Unique layouts, structural pillars, and the proximity of stores and other public places make it really challenging.

But this is where 360 Karting’s multi-level solution comes to shine. Organically shaped multi-level track structures are specially tailored for various target groups (kids, families, adults). They provide the best driving and non-driving experience, while maximizing the investors’ revenue.

A multi-level track design needs much less floor space, from around 900 sq m, and thus makes it possible to include other attractions around the track as well. This is a great way to combine different

What couldn’t be possible just a few years ago is now doable. Thanks to multi-level solutions that utilize the volume of a venue rather than its surface, electric gokarts that are quieter and don’t emit any fumes, and various types of tracks specially tailored to enhance the driving experience of your target customer. Thanks to those, the 360 Karting’s go-kart track will turn your mall into a go-to destination for everyone.

About 360 Karting:

Withmorethan100tracksbuiltworldwide, 360Kartingistheworld’sleadingcompany in the karting entertainment business. By delivering the most advanced karting solutions in terms of highest quality, safety, and profitability, they help their clients to achieve their business growth, while ensuring the ultimate go-karting experience for their customers.





Jeff O’Brien has 21 years’ experience in the regional sports business spanning all major sports and fitness. Jeff is a Sports Industry Specialist/ Business Builder / Company Founder of Onside Sports LLC, Partner in Live Broadcast Company with wide and diverse skillsets such as Masterplan and Strategy of Sports Developments, Business and Asset Maximization, Experiential and Tactical Marketing with focus on experience driven growth and sound financial planning and execution.

In a model created with local Saudi Arabia partners, we recognize we are ostensibly in the business of entertainment to a large extent and therefore, all our services and activities have an entertainment focus to them which is engaging and interactive. Covid taught us that humanization is an integral aspect of life and we are more rounded and happier people when we connect in person with others, family, friends, business colleagues across the board.

The virtual world and the use of technology to enhance our experiences is also integral and allows us to create immersive and interactive spaces which add entertainment to day-to-day lifestyle choices. This shows the complex yet simple nature of our humanizing requirements, which forms an important aspect of ‘quality of life’. We need face-to-face connections and experiences to validate relationships and use technology to enhance the experience.

D1 Clubs’ world class architectural partner, Saudi Architects, do an amazing job bringing innovation and energy to which brings the project to life. Recently, we added Plop Makers as the technology partner which is tasked with the opportunity and challenge to animate key areas such as the 200m indoor running/walking track and men’s and women’s gymnasiums. These will be core to the quality-of-life differentiators for D1 Clubs.

D1 is where our members come for a physical workout, in the separate men’s and women’s gym, or use the 200m indoor track to walk, run or jog with friends or alone. The track is a center piece of D1 and is integral to ‘humanizing’ the experience. It recognizes that as people we tend to walk and talk with friends and family, and


rather than on a treadmill, this gives that opportunity. The track is ‘tunneled’ in sections by Plop Makers with LED screens which theme the journey and give an immersive experience through the different terrains/elevations, which is designed to allow the mind to wander and transport to a different place.

Integral to the overall function and experience of D1 Clubs is the cinema, learning to swim, creative arts and parent and child classes and academies. These offer entertainment, education, life skills and family orientated interactions and connect directly with a large percentage of all residential communities from newborns to grandparents.

The adult experience offers men’s and women’s spa, in addition to the Sports Rehabilitation clinic to keep the body tuned so the rhythm of life is uninterrupted.

An important element of humanizing the experience is to offer options for connections after entertainment, education, workout or massage. Boutique coffee shops and restaurants in the ‘piazza’ create the village atmosphere where friends and families will congregate as their ‘local’.

A strong connection in the ‘piazza’ is for the arts, music and dance students to have the opportunity to perform and show their talent and skills. Also, in the ‘piazza’ will be our HUBZ market for fresh fruit and vegetables from local growers as another connection for the wider community.

The D1 business model is to partner with landowners and or master developers to allocate land as equity where BVOY (Best Version of You) will design, build, finance and operate the D1 Club membership business.

The value proposition is tried and tested globally among master developments and communities alike and show an increase in the ‘lifestyle options’ of those living within the community, which leads to an increase in the value of each residential property, while creating a unique business which provides a strong return on investment on a sustainable business platform for both parties.




Stuart is well known in the retail tech and martech industries having headed up one of the more successful shopper engagement companies in the digital signage space, ComQi. During this time he also was a two-term elected president of the Digital Screenmedia Association. ComQi had a successful exit in 2018 being acquired by the global display giant, AUO.

By now, it is apparent that retail as we know it has irrevocably changed. Consumers will have multiple choices, and pain points revolving around time spent in store and waiting for cashiers to open up can be better managed. Consumers still want to support the retailers in their communities. But they will not sacrifice convenience for brand loyalty. They are looking for a positive shopping experience without spending more money or doing anything complicated.

It is now imperative to create a modern shopping environment for customers who want to shop wherever they can and get in and out with minimal stress and friction. Providing a frictionless experience is the best way to retain customers and attract new ones.

While frictionless commerce can deliver the best customer experience, it is important to understand which technologies and solutions best suit a business. It will differ from one company to another since all have diverse needs and budgets depending on foot traffic, products sold, square footage, employee structure, and unique attributes.


Various offerings incorporating frictionless solutions are gaining traction in the market, and each requires unique technologies and protocols. Some of the prominent ones are:

Scan and Go: One of the emerging frictionless offerings is scan and go, where consumers scan QR codes on the products they want to purchase. Every item they scan using their smartphone is seamlessly added to the cart. Once they finish shopping, they can pay online without waiting in line for checkouts. While this technology is incredibly powerful and enables consumers to shop more efficiently, it does require an investment in software and hardware to make the process seamless. But consumers that enjoy the convenience will demonstrate a strong loyalty to retailers that offer this technology because of how quickly it gets them in and out of the store.

Self-Service Kiosks: One common and historically deployed frictionless technology is the self-service kiosk, another way consumers can shop on the go. The kiosks allow customers to shop and scan their products directly instead of waiting for a cashier. Most kiosks also feature a touch-free payment terminal where customers can simply tap their card and pay without touching device.

Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS): Also known as curbside pickup, this combines the ease of ordering online with immediate pickup from a store. Salesforce reported that 57% of consumers ordered a product online to pick up at the store, demonstrating how pervasive this habit has become. It allows customers to skip the line and go straight to the check-out counter to pick up the products they have ordered online or via phone. This minimizes contact made between customers, retailers, delivery partners as well as consumers.

Frictionless Payments: As the world moves towards digital payments, it is increasingly likely that consumers will pay for purchases by credit cards, most of which have chips. Tap-topay and mobile payment are significantly gaining traction globally due to their benefits of minimal contact, negligible or no extra charge. They allow consumers to make minimal contact with high-traffic equipment such as credit card readers and keypads while in-store. Frictionless payments will only continue to grow in importance as consumers leave cash at home and want a simple way to pay once they’re ready to check out.

AR & VR for Immersive Shopping : Frictionless commerce also extends the showroom experience outside the physical establishment. Retailers are using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to create virtual trial rooms that enable shoppers to try on apparel, footwear, cosmetics, and more. These digital pop-up stores offer the advantage of an immersive in-store buying experience. Customers can try out products and get them delivered to their doorsteps without stepping out.

While frictionless commerce is still a work-in-progress for many retailers, it provides a real competitive advantage to those who move early and offer several, if not all, of the above options for consumers. Consumers will continue to show support for companies that prioritize their well-being and embrace technologies that get them in and out of physical stores as soon as possible.

Now is the time to invest in the right technology, solutions and operational support to benefit customers and employees equally. Doing so frees up employees to provide more meaningful services and reduces the clog at the end of experience for customers, who can shop and leave the store as soon as possible.

Frictionless retail is the future. To learn more about frictionless commerce, especially how it can help reduce labor costs and shrinkage and increase customer satisfaction and retention, please reach out to us at



David is a Canadian, resident of the UAE for 18 years, with 40+ years of experience in the retail industry. Throughout his career, David has held several senior executives’ roles in major shopping centre development companies, including Emaar, AFGRE, Msheireb and Al Othaim. Formerly head of the property advisory firm, JLL Retail Division. Currently, he serves as the CEO of MECS+R. As an expert in the MENA Region, he has made numerous appearances on prominent news channels such as CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, Dubai One, Dubai City 7 TV, Selfie TV, and Dubai Zee Television. David is also a frequent commentator on Dubai Eye 103.8 as a retail industry expert and property market commentator.

In April 2021, three McKinsey executives Lisa Christensen, Jake Gittleson and Matthew Smith collaborated to create and publish this learning model which upon trying, is very effective. Several quotes from these authors are included in this article.

This article is a summary of these findings to understand the efficiencies of the 3X3X3 learning model which they have assembled. Using this learning model, we all benefit from understanding focus in our approach to learning.

Learning is a lifelong pursuit. Strategies to maximize efficient learning are important to maintain the right mindset to expand the opportunities in our lives personally and professionally.

3 Goals

“A defined number of clear and immediate goals. Focus on a few concrete goals at any one time.”*

In our busy lives we have a wide range of learning opportunities presented to us daily. The key point to take away is - to take the time to prioritize and focus on a few specific goals for learning about greater specifics. Identify those few goals. Write them down daily. Identify no more than three (3) goals at any one time.

With immediate access to social media, we are inundated with sometimes useless, urbane information from our phones and computers. The ability to get lost in the superficial is ever present. Brian Tracy, the self-development guru reinforces this idea. Setting smart goals is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Do not open your phone or computer to review emails or social media before noon daily. Our most productive time is normally between 7 am to 12 noon.

* April 2021 RETAIL PEOPLEE | MAY - JUL 2023 .42

3 Months

“A defined period in which to meet those goals.” article April 2021. Most all of us operate at our best when under the pressure of deadlines. Our personal learning goals also benefit from the pressure of deadlines.

Depending on the nature of the goals, create a timeline for learning and delivering on those goals. The McKinsey people have determined that a limited period is necessary to create urgency daily. A period of three (3) months has been determined to be the ideal length of time to meet and achieve most of these goals. If the goals are not met within the three-month period, the timeline will enable decisions to recalibrate and head in the proper direction to meet these goals.

3 People

“A defined group of people who can support and monitor progress on our goals.”*

“Involving others in our learning is one of the most powerful ways to improve goal attainment.”*

“Having multiple sources of support, insight and feedback helps to multiply the potential for learning and growth.”*

Surround yourself with three (3) other people to assist you in heading in the right direction to achieve your goals. Involving others generally leads you into a vulnerable position. Some may feel embarrassed if they do not meet these goals. Use this state of vulnerability to motivate and propel you forward to achieve your goals. Your back is to the wall. Take action. Learn from others. Take direction when and where necessary from the three (3) other people you have shared your goals with. Healthy social pressure is a great motivator.

“Setting a deadline of three months forces us to break down longer-term goals into achievable chunks, allowing us to recalibrate or redirect our energies along the way.”

“The three-month cycle provides an important checkpoint for us to ensure that the development goals remain aligned with the broader aspirations.”*

The 3X3X3 approach to learning and goal setting enables you to take the guesswork out of achieving your learning opportunities. Keep bite sized chunks of information. One step at a time. The 3X3X3 system provides another tool to make your life easier, focused and more fulfilling. Use this system as a trial. You will find a simple framework for continuous lifelong learning and goal setting.



Dany Abousaab has 22+ years of experience working with global consumer products companies and leading consultancy firms to enhance revenue and productivity across geographies and channels. He formulates sales and routeto-market strategies, operational excellence programs, organizational effectiveness plans and change management initiatives. Dany holds a master’s in international trade and certifications in change and project management.

In 1851, London hosted the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, displaying innovative products from around the globe to six million visitors. This event marked the beginning of trade shows as we know them today. Nowadays, over 31,000 trade shows are held annually, covering diverse industries and serving as platforms for networking, partnership and engagement between exhibitors and visitors.

Embarking on a trade show venture without a well-designed approach to gauge productivity is comparable to setting sail without a compass - a meandering journey with no clear direction or purpose. It is essential for exhibitors to evaluate productivity in trade shows for numerous factors, including their considerable investment, the journey of generating and converting leads as well as the realization of their satisfactory return on investment (ROI).

Of course, successful trade show participation requires thorough planning and preparation. Gathering sales leads through business cards, rented badge scanners or other methods enables data capture, however is this enough?

Cracking the productivity code is the sweet reward of steadfastly guiding the lead generation journey from outset until the point of conversion. Productivity Planning and Assessment (PPA) framework provides a blueprint for successfully navigating the exhibitor journey and achieving productivity excellence through a 4 Step approach: Plan-EngageEvaluate-Track.


The first step, Plan, begins with crafting a well-defined strategy, setting SMART goals and organizing logistics for participation. The second step, Engage, focuses on lead capture, where pre-qualification criteria score the level of interest and potential of the lead to become a customer. As the show curtains come down, the third step is, Evaluate, includes lead scoring and data analytics. This is a fundamental step in the Productivity Planning and Assessment (PPA) framework as it unlocks the value of the trade show engagements by category and other insights leading to the satisfactory return on investment result.

The last step is Track and Follow-Up. Hot leads can become cold in the absence of timely follow-up after the trade show. Companies can qualify leads, move them along the sales funnel, and close them by leveraging existing Customer Relationship Management systems.

The Productivity Planning and Assessment (PPA) framework helps exhibitors make informed decisions on resources allocation, prioritize leads, and refine their marketing, sales,

and leasing strategies. By focusing on qualified leads, companies can allocate resources more effectively and increase the chances of generating and improving the return on investment from trade show participation. Success metrics to consider include setting a baseline, expanding targeted visitor categories, increasing the value and volume of leads, optimizing lead conversion timeline, and improving the return on investment versus the previous year.

Embracing the right data-driven Productivity Planning and Assessment (PPA) framework provides a comprehensive approach to trade show planning and transforms them into highly productive and cost-effective marketing and sales tools. By setting goals, identifying key performance indicators, and analyzing data, exhibitors will make the most of their trade show presence and maximize their return on investment.





Muhammad Jawad heads Property & Community Management at IMKAN Properties. With over 15 years’ experience across commercial, residential, and retail sectors, Jawad has a deep passion for the industry and creating exceptional experiences.

Jawad has made significant strides during his career, including becoming the region’s first Institute of Real Estate Management Certified Property Manager (CPM®). His exceptional blend of professionalism and personal dedication has cemented his position as a distinguished executive in the field of property management.

Alifestyle destination is more than just a place to visit but an experience that enriches the lives of its visitors. Retail People Magazine had the privilege to sit down with Muhammad Jawad, CPM, Manager – Property & Community Management at IMKAN Properties, an Abu Dhabi-based real estate developer with a reputation for innovative and sustainable projects. In this interview, Muhammed shares what makes Pixel Plaza stand out among other lifestyle destinations, providing insight into what visitors can expect from this dynamic and sustainable urban community and a must-visit destination in Abu Dhabi.

Q: Can you tell us about Pixel Plaza?

A: Pixel Plaza is a modern lifestyle destination nestled in the heart of Makers District Abu Dhabi, forming an integral part of the larger Pixel residential development. The dynamic destination is designed to cater to a discerning customer base of professionals, entrepreneurs and creatives, who seek a unique working environment.

The pedestrianised plaza creates a perfect environment for chance encounters and the kind of spontaneous collaboration that can spark new ideas. The plaza also promotes walkability, encouraging people to move around freely and explore everything that the destination has to offer.

Q: What sets Pixel Plaza apart from other lifestyle destinations?

A: What sets Pixel Plaza apart from other lifestyle destinations is its unique blend of contemporary retail, dining, leisure, and co-working spaces. With 12,000 square meters of carefully curated retail space, the dynamic plaza showcases some of the most innovative brands and products, providing visitors with one-of-a-kind shopping and culinary experiences. Equally important, is the serene gardens and tranquil surroundings offer a respite from busy city life, while its location next to Makers Beach, the only beach on Al Reem Island, means residents have endless opportunities to relax and recharge.

Moreover, the Plaza’s modern co-working space provides a collaborative environment that encourages innovation and productivity, making it the perfect


place for remote workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to thrive. With steady footfall expected every day of the week, Pixel Plaza is set to become a must-visit destination in Abu Dhabi.

Q: How does IMKAN approach community living standards?

A: At IMKAN, we approach community living through the lens of originality, agility, and creativity. We believe that enriching, collaborating, and engaging are essential to a fulfilling life, and we’ve woven these facets into every aspect of Pixel’s ethos. Our goal is to provide our residents, tenants, and visitors with a space that enables them to realise their full potential. We recognise that each community is soulful and must be built around the needs of its residents.

Q: What is IMKAN’s philosophy when it comes to building design?

A: IMKAN’s design philosophy is guided by the human experience. This is reflected not only in our construction agenda but also in our selection of internationally-renowned partners. We have developed a unique approach that seamlessly integrates communal spaces such as parks, paths, and parking areas with private residential spaces, resulting in an ergonomic, community-based design that blends all components. Our ultimate goal is to create living spaces that foster well-being, connectivity, and a strong sense of community.

Pixel embodies our philosophy, with the experience of creative-led residents defining our design principles. Our partner in this process was one of the world’s best architects and designers, Rotterdam-based MVRDV. With its collaborative, research-based design method and a portfolio of award-winning iconic projects worldwide, MVRDV was a natural fit for designing this community. The architecture of Pixel encapsulates digitalism, the future, technology, innovation, and creativity, all of which reflect the ethos of development.

Q: How have you implemented the values of sustainability and nature conservation in the design of Pixel?

A: Pixel’s design embodies our commitment to sustainability and nature conservation. We have integrated environmentally responsible strategies and technologies into every aspect of the development, from the macro scale of the walkable mixed-use masterplan to the building scale of highly liveable and cost-effective structures. Our goal is to not only meet carbon reduction targets but to create attractive and thriving communities that promote well-being and connection to nature. We understand that a successful development must consider not only the physical but also the social and cultural dimensions of the community it serves


Al Habtoor Group to Reopen Retail Space at Beirut Property

is to create job opportunities and contribute to the economic recovery, which comes first before seeking financial profit. The launching of the new space will take place within a period of one year.”

The Sooq Avenue will be launched by the end of 2023, a statement said.

As a gesture of support to tenants and shop owners, and “given that the current economic situation might discourage tenants and shop owners from opening new branches in Lebanon, we decided to give a 12-month grace period to tenants to alleviate the burdens of the current crisis,” said Al Habtoor.

Lebanon - Al Habtoor Group (AHG) has announced the reopening of the retail space at AHG touristic complex in Sin El Fil, Beirut, which includes Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand Hotel and Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace.

UAE businessman and Founding Chairman of AHG, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor said: “We have a great love for Lebanon, and I am totally confident that better days are ahead. I said earlier that Al Habtoor Group was looking for a Lebanese competent party to

reopen the mall, in order to create more job opportunities for Lebanese youth and ensure a suitable source of income for hundreds of Lebanese households.”

He added: “Today I announce that we have taken serious steps to reopen the mall under a new name, the Sooq Avenue. To this end, we have signed a contract with a new company that employs an elite group of educated and patriotic Lebanese youth, and whose vision is in line with AHG aspirations. The first goal

Region’s First Luxury Décor and Home Furnishing Mall Opens in Dubai

Earlier this year, Al Habtoor tweeted: “We are reopening the Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace in Lebanon, to support the Lebanese economy, create job opportunities for the Lebanese youth and advance growth in the country.”

Al Habtoor concluded: “I call upon businessmen in Lebanon and abroad to join this initiative and contribute to the recovery of the Lebanese economy.”


customers through the mall, and a team of interior design professionals is available to assist shoppers. In addition to its products and services, Art of Living boasts several facilities, including free parking, a Cigar Lounge, and a Kids’ play area, among other complementary offerings. The mall’s CEO and Partner, Dr. Samer Al Omari, said, “Our mall is built around the onestop-shop concept, and our mission is to offer individuals and interior designers everything they need under one roof, whether they’re seeking the latest luxury home décor trends or conceptualizing and executing a dream home for a client.”

“We are poised to be the go-to destination for innovative designs and high-quality furniture and décor solutions, and we will spare no effort into achieving our full potential,” he added.

Dubai: Art of Living, the first-ever shopping mall in the UAE and the MENA region specialising in high-end home furniture and interior design solutions, opened its doors today in Dubai’s Barsha 2 - Umm Suqeim Road area. The mall spans three levels and covers a total area of 50,000 square meters, featuring a variety of

local, regional, and international brands that include new entrants to the regional market.

The mall offers a range of high-quality home décor and furniture pieces, including outdoor furniture, kids’ furniture, and a wide selection of décor accessories. Art of Living also provides access to a shopping consultant who will guide

During the soft opening, several retailers will open their doors at the Art of Living shopping mall, including Dimora, Storia, Kids Avenue, ID Vision, Secret Garden, Elve Luxury, Kaas, Garda Décor, Aroma 24/7, Yellow Korner and Caffeine Coffee Roaster. Another 20 stores are expected to open in the next few months.



UAE’s Sharaf Retail Opens Cotton On’s 11th Store in Dubai Mall

and lifestyle to even more customers. The new store in Dubai Mall offers shoppers an immersive experience, featuring the brand’s signature range of clothing, accessories, and homeware.

UAE homegrown retail conglomerate, Sharaf Retail significantly expands its presence in the lifestyle market across Middle East and Far East with addition to the opening of the 11th store of its lifestyle flagship brand, Cotton On at the world-renowned Dubai Mall.

The new store is spread across an area of 4,601sq. ft. of shopping space that mirrors the group’s expansion strategy across the region.

Cotton On is an Australian-based global fashion and lifestyle brand and the newest location will be offering a wide range of on-

trend clothing, accessories, and homeware for men, women, and children.

Founded in Geelong, Australia in 1991, Cotton On has quickly become one of the world’s most recognized fashion and lifestyle brands. The brand is known for its affordability, diversity, and commitment to empowering people of all backgrounds to express their individual style and make their mark on the world.

With the addition of its 11th location in the UAE, Cotton On continues to expand its reach and bring its unique blend of fashion

“We are thrilled to be opening the 11th store of Cotton On in the UAE, and our newest location in Dubai Mall,” said Yasser Sharaf, Vice President Retail, Hospitality, Industry and financial services, Sharaf Group. “Cotton On is all about offering affordable, on-trend fashion and lifestyle products that empower people to express their individuality. We believe that our new store in Dubai Mall will be a fantastic addition to the retail landscape in Dubai, and we can’t wait for customers to come and check it out.”

Sharaf Retail is rapidly expanding in the Middle East and Far East having opened 7 stores in the last 12 months across all brands under Sharaf Retail in Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE, Bahrain, Oman.

Sharaf Retail specializes in retail development and brand building, with expertise in design, manufacturing, store operations and e-commerce creating a seamless brand and consumer experience across multiple touchpoints.


Apparel Group Continues to Dominate Fashion Retail Landscape with Major Expansion in April

Launching 25 new stores in the Middle East and India

in Makkah, KSA; Salalah Grand Mall in Oman; Tahlia Street in Qunfudha, KSA; Panorama Plaza in Kharj, KSA; Tawar Mall in Qatar; Al Nakheel in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE; The Avenues Mall in Kuwait; Hilite Mall in Calicut, India; and City Centre Mall in Mangalore, India.

In the UAE, Crocs has opened a new store in Deerfields Mall, further expanding its presence in the region. Beverly Hills Polo Club also celebrates store openings in Deerfields Mall, Abu Dhabi, UAE, as well as in Al Shatea Mall, Dammam, KSA, and Sharaya Street, Makkah, KSA.

Apparel Group, a global leader in fashion and lifestyle retail, is proud to announce the launch of 25 new stores across the Middle East, and India, reinforcing its commitment to providing an unparalleled shopping experience for customers.

In Kuwait, Apparel Group opens 12 new stores in the prestigious Khiran Mall. The brands making their debut include Beverly Hills Polo Club,

Dune London, Birkenstock, Steve Madden, Levi’s, Havaianas, Ximi Vogue, The Children’s Place, BBZ, R&B, LC Waikiki, and LC Waikiki Kids, demonstrating the Group’s dedication to offering a wide array of shopping choices to consumers in the region.

The Group’s homegrown brand, R&B, continues its rapid expansion with the opening of 9 new stores in various locations, such as Hijaz Mall

Apparel Group’s relentless pursuit of growth and innovation ensures that customers can enjoy a diverse selection of fashion, footwear, and lifestyle products. The expansion strategy underlines the Group’s dedication to providing an outstanding shopping experience across the region and beyond.



Majid Al Futtaim Joins Forces with FOO to Transform Customer Experience

FOO has expedited Carrefour’s current refund process by integrating its closedloop mobile wallet and stored value account solution into Carrefour’s existing mobile app, enabling customers to receive instant refunds to their personal accounts. The aim of this collaboration is to streamline the hypermarket chain’s refund procedure and provide a more seamless shopping experience for its customers.

Chief Corporate Development Officer at Majid Al Futtaim and Holding and Managing Director of XSIGHT Future Solutions, Joe Abi Akl, said: “By leveraging FOO’s advanced capabilities, we can enhance our existing digital infrastructure and optimise our operations to meet the evolving needs of our customers.

“We are confident that this strategic partnership will enable us to set new industry standards and redefine the future of retail.”

XSIGHT Future Solutions, a digital arm of UAE-based shopping mall developer Majid Al Futtaim, has partnered with fintech solution provider FOO to provide an embedded wallet experience for its retailers.

Carrefour, owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in the UAE, is the first retailer to adopt this technology and has already launched the solution in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, with more countries to follow. Chief Revenue

Officer at FOO, Hussam Kayyal, said: “There’s no doubt that customer satisfaction is the number one priority for all businesses.

“Embedded finance can significantly enhance the consumer experience by eliminating traditional pain points. Integrating a closedloop mobile wallet into the various MAF consumer apps improves ease of service, therefore enhancing customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.”

The embedded wallet solution is seen as the first step of the expected long-term partnership between FOO and XSIGHT Future Solutions. In recent month, Carrefour UAE’s stores have accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies. For example, in February, the retailer installed the Face Pay face verification platform for payments in its Deira and Amsaf stores.


After Solid Q1-23, Americana Restaurants Has Its Eyes Set On Saudi Expansion

While revenue for Q1-23 increased by 2.1 per cent to $589.4 million, net profit attributable to shareholders dropped from $72 million to $58 million. Due to Ramadan this year being marked in Q1, there was a drop in the in out-of-home dining throughout MENA, contributing to the quarter’s earnings shortfall. From January 1 to March 22, which was the start date of Ramadan, income increased by a respectable 7.5 per cent over the same time in 2022.

Americana, the fast-food chain with a market value of Dh32 billion, set a milestone by becoming the first company to be dual listed in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It has delivered a 28% increase in the stock price year-to-date.

Through its 50 years of operations, Americana Restaurants has managed restaurants and outlets under the KFC, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s, Krispy Kreme,

and TGI Fridays, as well as its own Chicken Tikka throughout the MENA area and Kazakhstan. The company raised $1.8 billion through its public offering in November, and there was such a strong response that the stock was oversubscribed 58 times. After elevating its global presence as a listed company, Americana is on course to achieve its vision as one of the profitable, growthoriented, and diversified F&B operators.

The business keeps making strides on several strategic fronts. The KFC and Pizza Hut launches in Baghdad was one of the significant achievements. Americana sees Iraq as an untapped opportunity that would help them strengthen their regional presence and create a solid pipeline to speed up expansion for the rest of the year.

Americana Restaurants maintains a robust balance-sheet and is in a strong position to achieve its commitments on growth and capex and to uphold its dividend policy, with cash and cash equivalent for the quarter at $329 million. Read More… SOURCE:GulfNews(


VIA Riyadh Opens its Doors to Visitors with a Luxurious Twist

RIYADH: The wait is over as luxurious destination VIA Riyadh finally opens on May 11.

Abdullah Al-Olayyan, sales account manager, said that Artfeena tells the story of Saudi culture. “This is an art boutique that showcases our heritage in a contemporary style, and every piece tells a different story, and we decided to open in VIA Riyadh because we want to show the world our heritage and culture and deliver it through gifts,” Al-Olayyan told Arab News.

The area also boasts an exhibition called Seven, which showcases some of the most valuable and rare classic cars in history. To further enhance the shopping experience, VIA Riyadh features the Indulge in Luxury Center, which provides fashion services, personal shoppers, and a team of experts.

Located in Riyadh, the Salmani architecture used in the area blends in with the capital’s local character. It offers customers a shopping experience showcasing local and international brands, making it the premier location for luxury shopping. The area also features the renowned five-star St. Regis Riyadh hotel and seven luxurious cinemas, one of which is open for individual reservations.

The destination is home to numerous high-end restaurants, international cafes, the luxurious

ManuH Cigar Lounge, and the Via Mercato food store. Other food spots include Indianinspired Gymkhana, and Spago, led by the internationally renowned, two-Michelin-starred chef Wolfgang Puck.

VIA Riyadh offers a shopping experience that includes a range of luxury fashion brands, as well as art stores such as Phoenix Ancient Art, Richard Orlinski, and Artfeena — a Saudi gift shop that offers antiques inspired by the Saudi culture and the Kingdom’s various regions.

Fashion and footwear brands like Ashi, Elie Saab, Brandon Maxwell, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Zimmermann, Mwas, Isaia, Aquazzura, and Sergio Rossi are also available in the area, as are watch and jewlry brands like Bellucci, Charles Oudin, David Webb, Cle, L’Atelier Nawbar, and Maria Tash. Visitors who want a fresh haircut can visit Chaps & Co and Jacques La Coupe hair salon.

Various premium services are available to VIA Riyadh guests to improve their stay, including delivery services, valet parking, and personal assistant service. To learn more about VIA Riyadh, please visit the site.


EssilorLuxottica Expands into Arabian Gulf Region with Chalhoub Group

of local consumers and shopping experience know-how. The partnership will lead to the opening of multibrand and monobrand stores for EssilorLuxottica’s most popular brands, like RayBan, Persol, Oliver Peoples and David Clulow, expanding the group’s presence in the Arab Gulf region.

EssilorLuxottica has inked a joint-venture deal with Chalhoub Group to open a network of eyewear stores in the Arabian Gulf states. The deal aims to establish a strong regional presence and achieve unparalleled customer service levels, combining the experience, technology and reputation of EssilorLuxottica’s brands with the Chalhoub Group’s in-depth knowledge

The deal is a significant step for EssilorLuxottica as it aims to grow the visibility and quality of the eyewear category in the region, strengthening the relationship between local consumers and the group’s premium brands. It will also help the Chalhoub Group make its mark in the fastgrowing eyewear retail sector, taking advantage of the group’s luxury retail expertise. David Clulow, a UK-born multibrand eyewear retailer well-known among Middle Eastern consumers living in London, will open new stores offering an even more exclusive shopping experience, unrivalled service and the latest industry novelties.

“As we expand into the eyewear category, we are entering a new vertical that has significant

potential for growth and innovation with a high demand from our regional luxury consumers. EssilorLuxottica is a partner of choice with their fashionable, elegant products, and brand portfolio; their core values of helping people to ‘see more and be more’, alongside their growth ambition in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, complements our group’s purpose to inspire and delight customers,” said Patrick Chalhoub, president of Chalhoub Group.

For over six decades, Chalhoub Group has partnered with luxury brands and created luxury experiences in the Middle East. Striving for excellence as a hybrid distributor, the group has strengthened its distribution and marketing services by developing a portfolio of eight proprietary brands and over 300 international brands from the luxury, beauty, fashion and lifestyle sectors. It has recently expanded its range to include new categories like luxury watches, jewellery and eyewear. Chalhoub Group provides luxury experiences via over 750 physical stores, online shopping and apps.



US: Wendy’s Turns to AIpowered Chatbots for Drive-thru Orders

Apple to Open First Online Shop in Vietnam in a Push to Emerging Market

LVMH becomes first European company to exceed $500-billion market value

Wendy’s Inc. will begin testing an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot next month that will talk to customers and take drive-thru orders, becoming the latest fast-food chain to employ the technology. The system, powered by Google Cloud’s AI software, will be as natural as talking to an employee and has the ability to understand speech and answer frequently asked questions, the company said. This “creates a huge opportunity for us to deliver a truly differentiated, faster and frictionless experience for our customers,” Chief Executive Officer Todd Penegor said in a statement. Interest in AI chatbots from investors and the public has surged after the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year.


Google Co-Founders Gain $18 Billion as AI Boost Lifts Stock

Apple said on Friday it would open its first online store in Vietnam next week, as the iPhone vendor doubles down on emerging markets to drive growth amid slowing sales in China. The May 18 opening comes just weeks after the Cupertino, California-based company opened its first Apple stores in India - Mumbai and Delhi. Apple CEO Tim Cook is betting that emerging markets will provide more growth opportunities, with younger populations and relatively few iPhones. Apple did not say when it plans to open physical stores in Vietnam, which has a population of 100M people. “We’re proud to be expanding in Vietnam,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s SVP of retail. Apple already sells products in Vietnam via licensed vendors and has multiple suppliers that assemble its gadgets in the country for export.

Source:Zawya (

Coffee Chain Tim Hortons to Open Stores in South Korea

French luxury goods maker LVMH’s market value surpassed $500 billion, becoming the 1st European company to reach that milestone. The company’s market rally comes on the back of booming sales of luxury goods in China and a strengthening euro. The achievement comes less than two weeks after LVMH joined the ranks of the world’s 10 biggest companies, powered by a surge in Q1 sales. The company’s rising value has swelled the wealth of the world’s richest person, Bernard Arnault, who built LVMH into a global powerhouse through a series of acquisitions. His fortune stands at almost $212B, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Shares of Paris-based LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, as the company is formally known, climbed 0.3% to €903.70 at 10:43 a.m. Monday, valuing the company at €454 billion ($500B), Bloomberg reported. Source: ArabianBusiness(

Ikea to Open New Stores in US with Huge Investment

California: Google’s co-founders are reaping the rewards of the artificial intelligence frenzy, adding more than $18 billion to their combined wealth as the company unveiled a revamped search engine. Larry Page’s net worth increased by $9.4 billion this week to $106.9 billion, while Sergey Brin’s rose $8.9 billion to $102.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That was their biggest weekly gain since February 2021. Google will start experimenting with a more conversational search engine and has made its AI-powered chatbot available more broadly, the Mountain View, California-based company said at its annual developer conference on Wednesday.


North American coffee shop chain Tim Hortons will enter the retail market in South Korea later this year, its parent company Restaurant Brands International (QSR.TO) said in a statement on 10th May. The company said the new stores in the Asian country, one of the fastest-growing coffee markets in the world, would be developed under a master franchise agreement with BKR Co Ltd, a local operator in the quick service business. Tim Hortons has around 5,600 stores in 15 countries, with a larger presence in Canada and the US. It says it uses premium, 100% arabica coffee beans in its blends. Restaurant Brands International, which also owns fast food chains Burger King and Popeyes. Source:Reuters(

Swedish furniture giant Ikea announced plans Thursday to spend more than 2B euros ($2.2 billion) to expand in the US, its biggest investment in almost 4 decades in the country. The Ingka Holding Company, which controls the majority of Ikea’s stores and accounts for more than 90% of its total sales, plans to open 8 new stores in the US. It will also add nine “plan and order points” - smaller stores where customers can get furnishing advice for kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms. The 3-year expansion will add more than 2,000 jobs in the US. “It’s the biggest investment we have ever done in one single country,” Tolga Oncu, Head of Ikea Retail at the Ingka Group, told AFP, adding they see “endless opportunities” in the US. The company said stores are scheduled to open this summer in San Francisco and Arlington, Virginia. Source: Gulf News (


Australian Boho Brand Spell Opens its Pop-up in Los Angeles

Elie Saab Opens First Flagship Store in Saudi Arabia

Panda Express Unveils New Store Model

Four years after a successful first pop-up in Los Angeles, and a few months after another pop-up in Sydney, the Australian brand with a bohemian spirit, Spell, is back in Los Angeles and the Venice neighborhood, where it has just opened its new pop-up at 1108 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, scheduled until July 23. As the music festival season opens with Coachella as the first, Australian sisters Elizabeth Abegg and Isabella Pennefather present their collections of floral dresses, hats and western boots in Los Angeles in a space that feels like an extension of the brand’s physical spaces in Australia. “We release two different collections whilst in the space and I’m thrilled to be able to offer an in-store experience of Spell to our loyal community after such a long time,” said Co-Founder and Creative Director, Isabella Pennefather. Source: Fashion Network (

Mango Accelerates US Expansion with 15 Store Openings Planned for 2023

Located in VIA Riyadh, an exclusive experiential luxury and architectural destination in KSA, the 350 square-metre flagship boutique offers a unique experience of the label. The boutique features the most recent ready-to-wear and bridal collections, as well as kidswear, accessories and fragrances. It equally houses a private haute couture salon.

Designed and furnished exclusively by Elie Saab Maison, the all-white space is characterized by marble floors and plush carpets, while warm lighting reflects off of copper and oak wood accents. Completing the space are mirrors emblazoned with the abstract Elie Saab monogram. “Riyadh is developing its regional influence, and opening a boutique in the Saudi capital is therefore relevant for Elie Saab as we thrive into a lifestyle brand,” said CEO, Elie Saab Jr. “To further cement our presence in the Gulf and the region at large, we are aiming to be accessible and meet our growing clientele to best address their specific needs.”

Source: Fashion Network (

Amazon overhauls delivery network, seeking faster delivery,


Panda Express has revamped its store model in line with evolving customer behaviours. The quick-serve Asian restaurant chain has opened a new prototype designed to accommodate the increased demand for online ordering and drivethru channels. The revamped interior includes a 15% reduction in the seat count, with a larger back-of-house area. The new store model will be expanded to new locations in several U.S. markets in 2023 and beyond. The new Panda Express format, which made its debut in Dripping Springs, Texas, features design elements inspired by traditional Chinese architecture and traditions that tell the story of Panda Express. The exterior is identified by the brand’s signature colour palette of black and white, with strong red accents complemented by warm wood tones and a sweeping roofline. The interior design is marked by vibrant colours and a mashup of traditional and modern design motifs, welcoming customers into Panda’s ‘home.’ Read More… Source: Chain Store Age(

H&M Returns to Tokyo’s Ginza with Cafe and Interior Goods

To commemorate the first anniversary of its flagship store opening on Fifth Avenue in New York, Mango has announced plans to continue expanding in the US with the opening of 15 new stores for 2023. The Spanish fashion group aims to strengthen its presence in key regions like Florida, and establish its footprint in previously untapped states such as Georgia, Texas, and California. Mango is planning to expand its presence in the United States this year, with a focus on the west and south regions of the country. Some of the new openings planned for the coming months include shopping centres such as The Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio, Galleria Dallas in Dallas, La Plaza Mall in McAllen, Memorial City Mall in Houston, and Baybrook Mall in Houston. Source: FashionNetwork( Inc has overhauled its logistics network to reduce how far a package travels, in a push to move goods faster and more profitably, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. The online retailer’s efforts have helped reduce delivery times, transformed inventory management and changed the search results customers see on its flagship e-commerce website, the report added citing executives, analysts and sellers who list their items on Amazon.

At a time of slack consumer demand, other online retailers have also been making efforts to slash costs for home delivery and returns. Amazon this week said it was offering U.S. customers $10 to pick up a purchase rather than have it shipped to a home address. As the company tightens its belt after a period of explosive growth, it has made numerous moves to reduce delivery-related costs across the company. Source:FashionNetwork (

H&M opened a new shop in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district, the first in Japan to feature an interior section and a cafe as the Swedish clothing company aims for a piece of the recovering economy boosted by the return of international tourism. It’s somewhat of a homecoming for H&M Japan, which first opened its first store in Ginza in 2008, before closing permanently in 2018. “We’ve always been trying to find a way to reopen in Ginza,” said Aneta Pokucinska, H&M’s Regional Manager for Japan and South Korea. The 1,300-sqm new store on Namiki-Dori St., covering 3 floors, is the company’s 122nd location in the country. The store’s interior section emphasizes a connection with the cafe by featuring kitchen and dining products. The company’s environmentally friendly corporate stance is apparent throughout the store. There is a used clothing collection box made from a material called Paneco, which was developed by a Japanese company and is produced from the ground and reformed bits of recycled textile. Source:NikkeiAsia


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