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BAHRAIN Continued Development in the Retail Sector Page 18

FESTIVAL CITY MALL Redefining Entertainment Page 22

CENTRAL ASIA The Emerging Retail Frontier Page 44

ISSUE 19 MAY – JULY 2019

Circulated in 45 countries


Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa CEO, Mall of Dilmunia

“Mall of Dilmunia will be redefining the dream mall experience with the vision to be a unique retail and entertainment destination.” A






C E N T R E S ’


CONTENTS The Middle East Council of Shopping Centres

Unit 507, 5th Floor, Arenco Tower Media City, Sheikh Zayed Road PO Box 43972, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 359 7909 Fax: +971 4 355 8818 www.mecsc.org


News Brief


On the cover

Retail & Entertainment Destination – Mall of Dilmunia


David Macadam Chief Executive Officer david@mecsc.org

Lea Venezuela Director lea@mecsc.org


Khaye Comanda Associate Director khaye@mecsc.org


Mariz Matocdo Marketing Officer customercare@mecsc.org

Christian Baldonanza Registration / Digital Content Executive connect@mecsc.org

Justin Espiritu Publishing & Database Manager publishing@mecsc.org

Insights... 16

Waste Management in Abu Dhabi by SETECH

Country Focus: Bahrain 18

Continued Development Growth in Bahrain's Retail Sector


Bahrain – The Gateway to the Gulf

IBM is Helping Retailers to Drive AI Revolution

Investing in Growth: The Value of Portfolio Optimisation to Meet Asset Management Challenges

Last Mile Technology and Solutions Makes Splash in GCC


Middle East Shoppers Value Interaction


Shift to Crypto in Retail Sector: New Paradigm



Sets the Bar High for Upcoming Cinemas in KSA Meraas & BackLite Media Extend Advertising Partnership

Special Feature 42

Shaping a World of Entertainment


ICCA Mediterranean Chapter Summit

Expanding MECSC Horizon 44

Shopping Centre Update… 22


Media One Tower, Dubai Media City PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE T: +971 4 427 3000 F: +971 4 428 2261 motivatepublishing.com connect@motivate.ae

The Evolution of the Mall: IMAGINE Dubai

Yardi's Exclusive Interview with Red Sea Mall GM


Jabal Omar Project

Featured Article... 28

Importance of Connection & the Role of Context Within Retail Centers


2019 Cycling Trends from ROSE Bikes

Central Asia – The Emerging Retail Frontier

In-Focus 46

OFK – Open Flame Kitchen

Retail Milestones 48

High Five

iConquer – Success Story 50

My Story So Far – Gogi George

Board Members' Corner

Chris Capstick


General Manager - Connect

Ingrid Valles

The Evolving Retail Scene in Oman The 9th Category

Senior Projects Manager

MECSC Members' Segment

Rouf Majid


Art Director

Sunil Kumar General Manager - Production


Designing a Transformative Future for Retail in the ME

Corporate Members & Members on Board

Featured Member 56

One-on-One with Georgy Johnn

Murali Krishnan Production Manager Printed by Emirates Printing Press, Dubai

Disclaimer: The viewpoints, articles and opinions contained in the Retail People Magazine are not necessarily those of the MECSC.



BAHRAIN Continued Development in the Retail Sector Page 18

FESTIVAL CITY MALL Redefining Entertainment Page 22

CENTRAL ASIA The Emerging Retail Frontier Page 44

ISSUE 19 MAY – JULY 2019

WELCOME There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth – Leo Tolstoy

Circulated in 45 countries


Our team at the MECSC believes that the Retail People Magazine delivers on these three promises which are fundamental to good business. Our May issue of Retail People Magazine features Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa launching the Mall of Dilmunia, the Family Entertainment Destination of Bahrain. Opening in the fourth quarter of 2019, Mall of Dilmunia is showcased this issue.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa CEO, Mall of Dilmunia

“Mall of Dilmunia will be redefining the dream mall experience with the vision to be a unique retail and entertainment destination.” A






C E N T R E S ’


ON THE COVER: Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa CEO, Mall of Dilmunia

Thank you to

Younus Al Mulla MECSC Chairman

Mazen Hamza Qandeel MECSC Board President Executive Director Granada Center

MECSC Board Members Alessandro Gaffuri CEO & Founder CELS Group

Alfred Abi Antoun Head of Retail KSA & Egypt JLL MENA

Each issue we receive fantastic support from our contributing authors. We thank you for your time and letting your thoughts shine in print. Heather Longden from CBRE and the Bahrain Economic Development Board showcase Bahrain. David Blair from Fitch reports on great new initiatives. Gogi George and ‘His story so far’ provides great insight. Meraas and BackLite enter a new long term partnership. IBM and artificial intelligence in retail practical applications are discussed. Amrita Shabla discusses Masdar based Sustainable Environmental Technologies, an amazing article on managing waste. Micah Carruth penned an article on Last Mile Technology and online implications. Anju Gomes discusses Crypto currency and its future in retail. Human touch in retail is discussed by Meggan Reid at Blackjack. Rose Bikes want to launch into the MENA region and have contributed an excellent article. Long-standing MECSC members, the new CEO of Red Sea Markets Magejana (Gegi) Masilela and Said Haider discuss business at Yardi and The Red Sea Mall. John Joseph from Blue Rhine speaks of the rise of cinemas in Saudi. Jabal Omar Project in Makkah is featured in an article written by Jamil Ghaznawi and Wail Balkhair. Our Board of Members’ corner features Maimunah Shebani and Wail Balkhair. Dubai Festival City’s Vanessa Hinton has contributed a story about the success of Imagine Dubai, the laser show highlighting the best entertainment in retail. The role of the team at the MECSC is to help our members to facilitate their businesses in any way needed. Additionally, our role is to ensure that you are able to raise your personal profile in the industry locally, regionally and globally through our efforts. Our team at the MECSC would again like to thank our authors, our advertisers and you our readers for all the support. Your success and our success has helped us to understand that creating an organization with a clear vision is the lasting legacy we seek. The clear vision is the only way to connect with our audience who are our members, customers, partners and employees. A clear vision gives our audience a way to tell the outside world who we are and what we believe in. It inspires trust and loyalty, just like our Retail People Magazine. The MECSC as an organization is founded on these values of trust and loyalty for over twenty-five years. Knowing your vision and keeping that as our focus is essential for enduring success. An unwavering vision also provides for the ability to rise above the others.

Managing Director The Retail Agency

We all have a stake in the future of the retail industry in the many forms which thrive today globally. The MECSC team is committed to working with all industry stakeholders through our many channels of communication to inform, update and guide our members.

Marcello Larizza, CSM, CRX

We invite you to become more involved and we welcome your articles, views and insights in our Retail People Magazine. Reach out to Mariz at customercare@mecsc.org.

Maimunah Shebani

General Manager Line Investments & Property LLC

Nada Abou Saab

A big thank you to our members, advertisers, authors and supporters who make each Retail People Magazine issue better and more meaningful.

Director, Marketing East Region Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim Properties

Rony Aoun CEO SMAG SAL Lebanon

Wail Balkhair CEO SAHAT (Jabal Omar Markets)


DAVID MACADAM Chief Executive Officer MECSC

MAZEN HAMZA QANDEEL MECSC Board President Executive Director – Granada Center



AMRITA RAMONA SHABLA CEO Sustainable Environmental Technologies (P16)

HEATHER LONGDEN Associate Director & Head of Advisory & Transaction Services - Investor & Occupier CBRE (P18)

VANESSA HINTON General Manager Marketing & Entertainment Dubai Festival City Mall (P22)

MAGEJANA “GEGI” MASILELA CEO – Red Sea Markets Company SAID HAIDER Regional Director – Yardi Middle East (P24)

JAMIL GHAZNAWI Commercial Chief - Jabal Omar Devt Co. WAIL BALKHAIR CEO - Sahat Property Mngt Co. (P26)

MIKE ELLIS Chief Operating Officer 5+design (P28)

THORSTEN HECKRATH-ROSE Managing Director ROSE Bikes GmbH (P30)

DAVID BLAIR Global CEO Fitch (P32)

SCOTT ELLIS Retail and Consumer Industry Lead IBM Middle East (P34)

ALEXANDRE GRELLIER Co-Founder and CEO Drooms (P35)

MICAH CARRUTH Business Development Consultant Arabian Peninsula (P36)

MEGGAN REID Head Blackjack MENA Powered by Dulsco (P37)

ANJU GOMES Project Management Professional, Events Analyst / Trainer Association Builder and Strategist (P38)

JOHN V. JOSEPH Sales Director Blue Rhine Industries (P40)

BILL FORDYCE CEO BackLite Media (P41)


TAMARA BERNSTEIN International Sales Manager Expo Tel-Aviv International Convention Center (P43)

REYHAN GULIYEVA Leasing Manager - URBN Limited MECSC Co-Regional Representative Baku, Azerbaijan (P44)

GOGI GEORGE General Manager, Development & Leasing Oman Avenues Mall / Lulu Group International (P50)


MAIMUNAH SHEBANI Managing Director The Retail Agency (P54)

WAIL BALKHAIR CEO Sahat Property Management Company (P54)

GEORGY JOHN Executive Vice President Gastronomica Middle East (P56)

News Brief Dalma Mall Records 99% plus occupancy rate at the start of 2019

Setting new standards within the Abu Dhabi shopping mall industry, Dalma Mall joins the list of malls to report 99% plus tenancy of the gross leasable area in Q1 of 2019. Over the years, Dalma Mall has become the most preferred mall for retailers in Abu Dhabi, which is evident with the increasing occupancy rate of retail outlets. The retail mix at Dalma Mall will see the opening of exciting new retail partners including HOB, Riva, Sumo Sushi & Bento, Levi’s, Molten Chocolate Café, Hardee’s, Ajman Bank, UPIM, and Mexx. With these new launches, the mall is expecting a growth in the number of visitors by 5 to 10 percent over last year. Its strategic location, consumer trust, strong performance assessment and the efforts of the mall to sustain and enhance the retailer’s businesses has been the key to success and growth of the mall and its customer base.

Chinese pavilion design for Expo 2020 unveiled The design of the Chinese Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai was unveiled today in Dubai, in the presence of Ambassador Ni Jian of the People’s Republic of China in the UAE, Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, Executive Director, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau and Zhang Yi, Deputy Secretary-General of China Chamber of International Commerce. There were more than 150 guests including representative from Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai Tourism, Consulate General of China in Dubai, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, CCPIT, UAE and Chinese entrepreneurs, media and China Pavilion partners. Ruan Wei, Director of Expo Affairs, CCPIT, gave an update on China’s participation progress and presented the design of the China Pavilion. The country confirmed its participation in Expo 2020 Dubai in January 2017 and signed its official participation contract in May 2018. Zhang Shenfeng, Vice Chairman of the CCPIT, has been appointed as Commissioner General of the China Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020. Through its theme of “Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind Innovation and Opportunity”, the China Pavilion will be one of the largest at Expo 2020 Dubai, occupying a land area of 4,636 sqm. Expo 2020 Dubai will run from 20th October, 2020 to 10th April, 2021. It will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, MEASA, region and expected to receive 25 million visitors. A total of 190 countries have confirmed their participation in the Expo. For more EXPO 2020 info, visit: http://bit.ly/2P4Gdi6 Source: WAM - The Emirates News Agency (http://bit.ly/2v0TjDQ)

Bahrain Aquarium unveiled as the newest addition to Mall of Dilmunia Mall of Dilmunia is pleased to announce their latest addition, the Bahrain Aquarium, as one of their many star attractions that will be available for their visitors. The sevenmeter wide by 16-meter high aquarium, containing some 700,000 litres of water, will be the first cylindrical aquarium of this height and depth in the region and will be filled with various fish and sea-life, re-emphasizing the concept of the mall in being a unique, fun and educational experience for all who visit. The Bahrain Aquarium will be open to visitors along with the opening of the mall later this year.

Deliveroo launches in Kuwait with 900 restaurants Deliveroo, the delivery service founded in 2013 by William Shu and Greg Orlowski, has announced its launch in Kuwait. Deliveroo said it will enable locals in Kuwait City to order food whenever and wherever they want it, delivering orders within 30 minutes. The company is launching in Kuwait with over 900 restaurants including Five Guys, Zaatar & Zait and Shake Shack, it said in a statement. Kuwait is the company’s 14th market, following its launch in Taiwan last October. Deliveroo, which currently works with 80,000 restaurants and 60,000 riders around the world, has appointed Kuwaiti national Seham AlHusaini as General Manager for the market. Source: Arabian Business (http://bit.ly/2UBOvnJ)

Largest aquarium in Middle East to open at Mall of Muscat on April 15 One of the most anticipated projects in the country, Mall of Muscat, is set to open its doors to the public on April 15. The key highlight of the ambitious project is the Oman Aquarium, which, spread over 8,000sqm, is the largest such facility in the Middle East. It will have over 30,000 animals and many exhibits including a walk-through tunnel. Speaking to Muscat Daily, Abdullah Al Jarwani, member, Board of Directors, Mall of Muscat, said, “A majority of the shops are rented out, with over 76% of them to open with the launch.” He added that Oman Aquarium will be opened the same day while other attractions like Snow Village and Go-karting tracks will open at a later date. About the aquarium project, the company stated, “It will be the largest aquarium in the Middle East. The aquarium will contain 3mn litres of water, 50 plus exhibits and over 30,000 animals. There will be a variety of beautiful fish, sharks, rays, octopus and there will even be penguins and crocodiles.” Source: Zawya (http://bit.ly/2UzPRiB)



Dubai Arena officially named Coca-Cola Arena after 10-year deal is signed Dubai Arena has officially been named the Coca-Cola Arena, after developer Meraas signed a 10-year deal with The Coca-Cola Company. The agreement with the US company includes exclusive naming rights for what is set to be Dubai’s first and largest indoor, multipurpose arena, which is scheduled to open in June this year. “We are proud to have a company of such worldwide renown as Coca-Cola taking on the naming rights for the arena in the long-term,” said Abdulla Al Habbai, Meraas Group Chairman. Murat Ozgel, General Manager of Coca-Cola Middle East and Deputy President of CocaCola Middle East and North Africa, said: “We are proud to be a part of this highly anticipated entertainment destination, which demonstrates our commitment to the region. “The Cola-Cola Arena will build on Dubai’s thriving entertainment industry, positively contributing to the city’s ambitions to become a world-leading metropolis. The arena will create another landmark in the city, attracting visitors from across the world.” The 17,000-seat air-conditioned arena in City Walk will be the largest indoor arena of its kind in the Middle East. It will host a variety of live concerts and sporting events all year round when it opens its doors to the public this summer. Source: The National (http://bit.ly/2GbMXXv)

Al Wahda Mall expands portfolio, retains brands with advanced innovative leasing strategies Sharaf DG renews lease and doubles up store size at Al Wahda mall Al Wahda Mall, an iconic landmark located in the heart of Abu Dhabi announces the expansion of Sharaf DG, UAE’s largest electronics retailer in the premises. Spread across 4,103 square feet earlier, the new store now spans across nearly 10,000 square feet in size with added departments for Home Appliances and Personal Care. Commenting on the expansion, Mr. Navaneeth Sudhakaran, General Manager, Al Wahda Mall said, “We are continually reinventing our leasing strategies to offer more to our tenants. We value our relationship with Sharaf DG and see a great demand for consumer electronics owing to the strategic location of the mall. We are looking forward to add more value to our tenants with our innovative leasing strategies.” Launched in March, the store is located next to Oscar Cinema, and is open from 10 am until 10 pm, every day.


Damac Properties eyes new opportunities in Saudi Arabia, London Dubai-based Damac Properties is looking for new plots of land in Saudi Arabia, according to Chairman Hussain Sajwani. Damac currently has one development in Jeddah and a twin-tower project in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. “It’s a big market. It is changing. It is opening up. We see a potential there,” he was quoted as saying by Arab News. “We are looking.” Sajwani added that Damac is also studying plots in Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project. Additionally, Sajwani said the company is looking at potentially investing $660 million in a second development in the UK, following its 50-storey tower Nine Elms London development near the Thames that is due for completion in late 2020 or early 2021. “We have sold more than 60% of the project,” he said. “It’s very mixed. We have [buyers] from the UK, Asia, and the Middle East.” Source: Arabian Business (http://bit.ly/2VGomAt)

VOX Cinemas pledges $500m to build movie theatres in Saudi Arabia VOX Cinemas has said it will set aside $500 million in a major investment drive to boost its number of screens in Saudi Arabia. The investment will see it add an average of 150 screens per year in the country until 2023 to reach a total of 600 screens. Saudi Arabia’s cinema industry has had “a good start”, the cinema giant’s country manager for Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Al-Hashemi, told Arab News, adding that the firm has been encouraged by audiences responding to its “entertainment-plus-cinema” offering. “The market reaction has been excellent. We are also very pleased at the support we have received from the government so far, in everything from operating, to licensing and expansion,” he said. Fully owned by UAE-based conglomerate Majid al Futtaim, VOX recently opened a 15-screen theatre in Riyadh, bringing the total number of screens in Saudi Arabia to 31. Source: Arabian Business (http://bit.ly/2KzG1ZG)

How the UAE's $1.2bn Reem Mall aims to revolutionise shopping Construction on Reem Mall began in late 2017 and is anticipated to be complete by late 2020. Developers behind Abu Dhabi’s $1.2 billion Reem Mall have revealed how innovative data analytics and the introduction of an integrated e-commerce logistics hub will make it the world’s first fully digitally enabled smart shopping centre. The innovative approach will allow Reem Mall to deliver superior sales potential, enhanced customer journey and personalised service, based on real-time, actionable insights into shopper behaviours and preferences, a statement said. The insights were unveiled at the 5th edition of the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit which took p[lace in Dubai in April. “With digital transformation currently disrupting retail boundaries and on-demand shopping delivered wherever and whenever you want, the days of the traditional shopping mall are over,” said Milat Sayra Berirmen, digital experience manager for Reem Mall, during a keynote speech at the summit. “At Reem Mall, we are leading this transformation by creating a totally new retail concept – the world’s first fully digitally enabled mall, supported by an integrated logistics hub... In a world where consumers expect any experience to be literally at their fingertips, we are taking this one a step further by creating an on-demand connection between customers and retailers.”

Abu Dhabi retail sales to offer discounts of up to 75% The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced the launch of the Retail Abu Dhabi Spring Sales, a massive shopping event taking place across the emirate from April 15 to May 1. The RAD event which takes place across the capital and Al Ain region will offer consumers up to 75 percent discounts at more than 300 outlets across 15 shopping malls. Participating outlets in Abu Dhabi Mall, Dalma Mall, Bawadi Mall, Al Ain Mall, Yas Mall, Al Wahda Mall, WTC Mall, Khalidiyah Mall, Mushrif Mall, Raha Mall, Madinat Zayed Mall, Mazyed Mall, Barari Mall, Foah Mall and Bawabat Al Sharq Mall will be offering significant discounts. “We are excited to announce the first edition of RAD Spring Sales, which is expected to be one of the most popular events in Abu Dhabi’s retail calendar,” said Saeed Rashed Al Saeed, destination Marketing Director, DCT Abu Dhabi. Source: Arabian Business (http://bit.ly/2v0TfE2)

Source: Arabian Business (http://bit.ly/2V0C04B)

Aldar to build new waterfront scheme on Yas Island

Dalma Mall hosts the largest gathering of movie stars and their fans in Abu Dhabi

Aldar Properties, the Abu Dhabi real estate developer, is building a new waterfront residential project in the emirate as part of its recently adopted strategy to offer land plots for sale. The ‘Lea’ scheme is on the northern coast of Yas Island, where Abu Dhabi’s Formula One racetrack, the Yas Marina, theme parks and several neighbourhoods including the adjoining Yas Acres develop-ment are located. The project offers 238 residential land plots for sale ranging in size from 405 square metres to 1,800 sqm, with prices starting from Dhs999,000, Aldar said in a statement. Sales will commence at the annual Cityscape property exhibition in Abu Dhabi next week. “Combining the opportunity to acquire land with all of the attractions and amenities of Yas Island is a hugely compelling proposition that no-one else can offer,” Aldar chief executive Talal Al Dhiyebi said in a company statement.

Dalma Mall was filled with elation and festivity as they celebrated the only UAE promotional event for the super hit movie Lucifer in the presence of superstar Mohanlal and other celebrated cast members of the movie – Prithviraj Sukumaran, Tovino Thomas, Manju Warrier, Murali Gopy and Antony Perumbavoor – on March 22. The mall witnessed an overwhelming response from fans who gathered at the main atrium, patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. Dalma Mall creatively organised the event within the mall which intrigued the visiting consumers who chose to remain in the mall and enjoy the services before and after the event. This was measured with a high dwell time reported of over 78,000 visitors during the day and a high conversion rate of these browsers to buyers. This event was part of Dalma Mall’s ongoing mall strategy to engage with the community within the Emirate and support the retail partners.

Source: The National (http://bit.ly/2USgGhx)



Dubai retailer Union Coop plans to double online sales in 2019

Middle East’s first holographic gaming centre opens Touted to be region’s first holographic gaming arcade, Holoverse opened at Oman Avenues Mall recently. It is a partnership between Al Tamman Group’s Grand Entertainment and Australia’s renowned immersive entertainment technology specialist, Euclideon Entertainment. The gaming facility, Holoverse is located on the first floor of the mall and has six gaming tables where two players will be able to play per table at a time. A senior spokesperson from Al Tamman Group said, “Hologram technology is closer to augmented reality and is a life-like 3D projection of an artificial environment, presented in the real world. Holoverse offers a new take on virtual reality entertainment through Euclideon’s Hologram Arcade Tables which are gaming tables, but with a twist; where two players can play simultaneously, leading to a significantly more social experience. Being the first-ofits-kind in not just Oman, but the region, we are confident Holoverse will attract the young and old alike.” Holoverse will be open throughout the week from 10 am to 10 pm. Source: Muscat Daily (http://bit.ly/2X60uqd)

“Granadia” Riyadh’s Surprising Destination

“Granadia” is the new brand name launched by Granada Center in Q4 2018 with a whole new brand identity. Granadia is the only destination in Riyadh that combines entertainment, shopping, dining and hotel stay. In Q4 2018, they won the naming rights of the metro station that is located inside the district. Continuing the growth in Granadia, Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Residences opened December 2018 and it’s the 5th largest in the Hilton Hotel chain outside USA. The entertainment activities were part of the destination’s attractions’. The previous months witnessed several events in Granadia such as Cirque Du Soleil in Granada Square and Rabih Saqr’s concert held at the Hilton Hotel, top events that attracted thousands of visitors to Granadia. On the other hand, Granada Mall continues to grow and improve, adding 11 new wellselected tenants to the mall tenant mix aiming at enhancing the shopper's experience.

Union Coop, the largest consumer cooperative in the UAE, has revealed that it expects AED30 million sales in 2019, nearly double that seen last year. The retailer said it is seeking to sell more than 60,000 units from its web store and online partners, up from 22,357 in 2018. Khalid Humaid Bin Diban Al Falasi, CEO of Union Coop, said: “Our web store crossed AED5 million in sales this February and at the same rate we are looking forward to a figure of AED30 million in sales by the end of 2019, nearly double compared to the AED15.8 million sales of 2018. As part of a major push online, Falazi said Union Coop is deploying cutting-edge technology in its web store to offer a next-generation shopping experience to consumers and is collaborating with renowned digital channels and marketplaces such as souq.com, elgrocer.com, instashop.ae, dukkaani and noon.com.” Source: Arabian Business (http://bit.ly/2UiDFha)

Landmark Group to open new Oasis Mall in Sharjah Landmark Group will open its first Oasis Mall in Sharjah. The retail and hospitality conglomerate said, the mall located on Al Wahda Street, will have over 45 retail stores – including Carrefour, Home Centre, Emax, Max and Fun City – spread over a total area of over 650,000 square feet across three floors. The retail hub will also include a 10-screen cinema operated by Cinépolis – the first entry to the UAE market for the world’s fourth largest cinema operator, which also has a cinema in Bahrain. Aarti Jagtiani, group director, Landmark Group, said, “We recently opened malls in Oman (Sohar) and Bahrain (Juffair) and now with the addition of this mall [in Sharjah], we are expanding our footprint to 10 malls across four countries. In line with our brand promise, the mall will cater to the local community and serve our customers with a complete and convenient retail experience, where they can shop, meet and socialise.” Source: Arabian Business (http://bit.ly/2UxQRnr)



Retail & Entertainment Destination


he mall of your dreams is now a reality as innovative malls take the forefront. Mall of Dilmunia is a new age futuristic development that is coming soon to the Kingdom of Bahrain. As malls are transitioning towards lifestyle, by providing different facilities, this development innovatively positions itself in the market as a 'comprehensive and capacious mall'. The new business, to be opened in the fourth quarter of 2019, is establishing a family zone that includes an impressive mix of facilities, and all-round activities that attract the attention of every family member, from toddlers to seniors. The management's vision is to develop an inclusive family destination that caters to all age groups and genders. This is achieved through ensuring guests and tenants view the mall as a destination with top quality standards in entertainment, leisure, and retail. The entertainment in Dilmunia Mall encircles several diverse attractions favouring the inclination of all segment groups. This ranges from an ice-rink and restaurants overlooking the Dilmunia canal, to the largest cylindrical aquarium in the region, as well as “Funscape” zones with activities for the entire family. Furthermore, the management shared, “We have spaces such as the Atrium and


Boulevard with a gross leasable area of around 43,000 sqm, equivalent to 200 shops, but they are only two attractions out of so many. Although malls are generally intended for shopping, this does not mean the additional services shoppers engage in are less important. For this reason, we have added many features with the objective of having people say ‘the Mall of Dilmunia is far more than expected.’ The mall is strategically situated in the heart of Dilmunia Island, Muharraq, in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is only a 5-10 minutes drive from the national airport and 20 minutes away from Manama - Bahrain's capital and centre of business. Dilmunia Island provides investors and developers with an optimal location that is well connected to the GCC community and provides direct internal transportation access to residential, commercial, and industrial areas. The mall has a paved area for around 1,000 car parks; B2, B1 and LG levels with a quick access from the highway. These parking spaces are connected by escalators and elevators leading the visitors to the retail areas. The area is equipped with a building management system that easily helps to indicate the availability of free spaces.

The Bahrain Aquarium – 7 meter wide by 16 meter high aquarium, will be the first cylindrical aquarium of this height and depth in the region.

SHAIKH MOHAMMED BIN DUAIJ AL KHALIFA, CEO, Mall of Dilmunia Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa has had an illustrious career commencing from the Economic Development Board as an analyst and was appointed onto the Economic Reform Team. He was a Principle Placement Officer with Abu Dhabi Investment House and joined Barwa International as a CEO for Barwa Real Estate Bahrain. He has also served on the board of Nuzul Holdings as a Vice Chairman, Chairman of the Executive Committee and Acting CEO.

We are pleased to be able to unveil such a unique and state of the art attraction at Mall of Dilmunia. Working alongside such a well-reputed company as ELSS to be able to construct and install the one of a kind aquarium at the mall. We would also like to express our thanks towards the Port Authority of Bahrain, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Works and finally the Supreme Council for Environment for their support throughout the process and operations.

The design of Mall of Dilmunia is all about synergy, incorporating the ways of Feng Shui to promote health, happiness, and positive energy throughout the various entertainment concepts. The architectural design depicts a friendly liveliness that is a balanced representation of modern and futuristic. An essential element incorporated within the design includes the 'green' aspect to reduce power exerted. This was carefully studied when planning the insulation of the development's façade where insulated precast panels were introduced on the elevated formation facing the sun instead of having a full glass front. This drastically dropped the cooling load required and the energy consumed by the mall. Contractors have also considered methods of reducing water consumption by selecting highly efficient sensor mixers.



Ground Floor Main Atrium – 736 meter square where it can be used to host shows, exclusive attractions, events, exhibitions, brand awareness and sales promotions activities

One of the primary focuses during the design phase was the strategic placement of the different features within the mall; the management describes the effects of this as 'cross-pollination' where each family member will feel drawn to discover the numerous distinct activities. The journey for visitors start at the 'Atrium', a 736-meter square focal point for visitors filled with retailers and services to customers. The area is utilized to host shows, exclusive attractions, seasonal events, exhibitions, brand awareness, and sales promotion activities. The Atrium is tailored towards revitalising visitors for a wonderful shopping experience. The shopping experience then branches into the Boulevard with a European old town appearance. Various shops are displayed ranging from jewellery, fashion and lifestyle, perfumes, and many more. The Boulevard has a 60x10 meters LED ceiling screen to display videos as well as audio that gives visitors the real feel of being in the outdoors. To foster the bond between family members, the concept of 'Funscape World' was introduced as an entertainment feature that seeks to promote high engagement from all age groups through tailor-made activities targeted to suit various interests. This is in line with the objective the management set towards the Mall of Dilmunia of being truly family centric, athletic, and educational all at the same time. Funscape World branches out to deliver four diverse activities beginning with 'Funscape Adventure' that is located on the lower floor and accommodates young children to explore adventures off the ground. The area is equipped with several venturesome concepts, suitable for toddlers and adults alike, such as the 18-meter high rope course for adults, rock climbing, zip line, teenage thrill-zone, simulator games, and video games. The second element within Funscape World provides visitors a spectacular space to enjoy the winter wonderland or perhaps


The Ice Rink that can accommodate over 500 skaters at a time.

cool-off from summers heat with 'Funscape Ice' located on the first floor with a void up to the second floor. The ice rink will be the first mall in Bahrain with a magnitude to manage over 500 skaters at a time. The rink is perfect quadrilateral that maximises the area for skating. All aspects have been pre-planned including lockers and skate shops – meant for both purchase and rental. The outskirts of the rink hosts sporting goods outlets, food and beverage stands, and cafes. 'Funscape Play' is the third entertainment element with an enormous area of 2250 sqm made to be the centre of amusement for families. This dedicated area is all about creating a worry-free zone for parents to spend quality time with the family. It is designed to be equally fun for everyone where the expected demographic is a long spectrum ranging from toddlers, children, young adults, young parents, and grandparents. The activities include a 'soft'

play area, balloon wheel rides, drop and air rides, twist rides, bumper cars, carnival and arcade games, party space, virtual reality, food and beverages outlets, and retail shops. The fourth and last element is 'Funscape Sport'; a space committed to quality experience for athletic audience of all age groups. This area is convenient even for peerless visitors who would like a good game of football. The mall has two indoor football pitches and is equipped with changing rooms and all required amenities. What makes this area all the more exciting is the Robo Keeper, soccer simulator games, and sport redemption games. The mall takes the energy of water feng shui to another level by balancing the energetic vibe with spaces that are calmer and incorporate the flow of water. On the outskirts of the mall is Dilmunia Canal, a waterway that runs on three sides of the development creating a splendid view for the seating arrangements and pedestrian area of the food and beverage outlets. The mall's interior innovatively introduces a 16-meter high and 7-meter wide cylindrical aquarium that is visible from all four floors of the mall making it the largest cylindrical aquarium in the region. This gives the visitors a beautiful sight of the aquatic life at different depths while also having the opportunity to pet and feed the sea life. The new mall development is meant to renew perceptions of what malls can really offer. Mall of Dilmunia focuses on providing a variety of shops for everybody while enjoying with every member of the family. With a variety of dining experiences and venues, it is a perfect location to enjoy a good eat, as restaurants and cafes are located on the canal, rooftop, aquarium, boulevard and food court garden. The Mall of Dilmunia is set to be a jewel in the crown of the Kingdom attracting inbound tourism and crafting

The Boulevard

Theme Food Court at Level 3

a destination experience for families locally, regionally and globally to indulge in. This innovative landscape of mall developments will set precedence for a holistic experience and journey that welcomes visitors of all age groups.

The Dilmunia Canal


Waste Management in Abu Dhabi Investigated by Sustainable Environmental Technologies


ustainable Environmental Technologies is a Masdar based company that is associated with Her Highness Sheikha Alyazia Bint Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. One of the co-founders, Miss Amrita Ramona Shabla, Chief Executive Officer, is running the team in Abu Dhabi by substantially increasing team players, revenue and education across the Middle East. Her partner, Mr. Assaad Maalouf, Lead Researcher and Group CEO, is developing solutions against every problem within waste today. Already released is the SPS and Mona System, they are now releasing the ‘HEWR’ Hi-Equestrian Waste Recovery System. The ‘HEWR’ will recycle ‘wood shavings’ used in current ‘Horse Stables’. Current owners, use 1bag, per horse, per day. The system is simple, you throw in the dirty shavings into the HEWR System and in 33 minutes you will be given clean shavings that can then be re-used as bedding. You can do this process up to 30 times, so imagine the savings, 1bag, per horse, per month. The launch will be this summer, so keep an eye out for this revolutionary equestrian system. SPS and Mona are currently the most advanced systems built in the UAE. We pride ourselves for being one of the first start-up companies to self-construct our own laboratory in Abu Dhabi called SET Labs, where we do all our ‘Research and Development’ for all SET Product Solutions. SET today can reduce up to 97% of ‘Organic Waste’ at source, aiming to reduce everything from sewage sludge/cake sludge, animal waste, food waste (including bones, shells, nuts, fruits & vegetables, ingredients, out-dated food and garden waste), which then gives you 3% of ‘Golden Compost’ (this can be kept or collected for free by the SET Team). Our dedicated Senior Consultant, Mr. Ionut Petreanu, is always available to support and educate all clients from different nationalities and backgrounds. The SET Team is a diverse group of people, always ready to lend a hand where it is needed.

Using the SPS and Mona to Reduce Organic Waste Let’s start with the Mona System, it is very simple to operate, odorless and the process time is three or four hours depending on the level of moisture content in the waste. The Mona System is a simple three-step process. First, you fill the bucket with food scraps which can even include cooked or stale food waste, small bones, meat, vegetables and fish. After the bucket has been filled you press ‘Play’. The system is a heating, grinding and cooling process, with built-in activated carbon filters. The capacity available is 2-5kgs for households. The SPS Industrial system works on three mechanisms. The mechanical process where our high-end blades within the vessel turn in a clock-work direction. The thermal process is the heat transfer mechanism that works through the use of natural occurring enzymes. Lastly, we have the biological process that is completely based around ‘Aerobic Digestion’, which means the SPS has the presence of oxygen throughout the process. The capacity available is 25kgs – 15tons for Industrial use.


Change Your Way With SET Today

22,000 HA

of landfill overflowing in Abu Dhabi

40% of total waste is food waste

The food waste emits


methane gas

We are responsible for our planet and therefore need to protect it and aim for a diversion in the landfill as the ultimate goal for SET, for you and the future generations. Household food waste of 61% compromises the largest sources of waste. Should you want to turn your garbage to green by utilizing SET Systems then give us a shout. We do free ‘Cost-Benefit Analysis’ for all business and projects, and the SET team is always here to advise and help. For more information regarding waste management in the UAE or recycling ideas in Abu Dhabi contact: Sustainable Environmental Technologies: +971 (2) 6222 621

The SPS and Mona both reduce waste by up to 97% and the 3% by-product can be used to grow organic fruits and vegetables, or for various agriculture purposes, or even treated and used as animal feed. SPS and MONA are both recognized systems in ‘Integrated Waste Management’ and the difference in the size of these units results in a waste management solution that can be used by consumers, businesses and governments. This has resulted in a marquee list of clients and partners that are utilizing this technology including Al Jazira Poultry Farm, Dubai Arena, Le Meridien Hotel, Six Sense-Oman Zighy Bay Resort, to name a few.

AMRITA RAMONA SHABLA, Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Environmental Technologies Amrita is a visionary entrepreneur with more than 12 years’ experience in the business. She is the epitome of the positive, optimistic and energetic person; highly skilled in communication and deliverables. In parallel, she is an organizer who combines her talent in multitasking by fully driving SET’s vision forward. Amrita cares about her teams, customers and business partners, whom she views as the key to growth and development. Amrita is bringing back gender balance in sustainability and leaving her mark on the planet we live in today, true leadership!!



Continued development growth in Bahrain’s evolving Retail Sector presents an opportunity for occupiers T

he Kingdom of Bahrain’s retail sector is experiencing accelerated growth in terms of both investment and development. This trend is one that we are witnessing across all shopping centre categories including neighbourhood, community, regional and super-regional. As we approach the end of Q1 2019 there is currently 1,138,066 square metres of gross leasable area (GLA) in the Kingdom with a pipeline of 428,877 square metres supply set to come online in the next 3 years - representing an increase of almost 40%. Over the last decade, development in the Kingdom’s retail sector has extended beyond the traditional retail cluster around Seef District in the capital. A key shift has been the advancement of community malls, that has increased the geographical spread of retail across the country, with properties such as Enma Mall and Seef Mall Muharraq, providing localised retail offerings with significant scale. Another progression has been an increased F&B and leisure focus, positioning retail properties to drive footfall and compete in an evolving landscape. The Avenues in Manama, which opened in 2017 with 38,000 square metres of GLA, is heavily F&B and experience focused. Approximately 40% of GLA in the mall is dedicated to F&B, and a large proportion of this provides outside seating, which overlooks Bahrain Bay on


the waterfront. Phase 2 of The Avenues is also planned that will add an additional 48,000 square metres GLA. As the nation’s retail landscape continues to evolve, pipeline properties in the regional and super regional set are increasing in scale. Examples of this include Mall of Dilmunia and Marassi Galleria in Muharraq and Kingdom Mall in the Janabiya area, near the King Fahad Causeway leading to Saudi Arabia. These projects are diversifying their offering and proposed tenant mix, with emphasis placed on F&B, leisure activities, cinemas and new

family entertainment components. The trend for retail plazas, often open-air set around central courtyards, is also growing in line with the focus on experience-based retail and F&B. The retail sector is an important element of Bahrain’s Vision 2030 and drives to increase tourism. While Bahrain is relatively small in terms of population, it commands proportionately high tourism figures which are increasing year-on-year. In 2018, Bahrain welcomed over 12 million visitors with nearly 90% entering the Kingdom via the causeway. Bahrain is progressing its retail offering in line with positioning the country as a retail destination, that aims to attract greater visitor numbers, both from within the region and further afield. The scale and appeal of the shopping malls being developed in the Kingdom have advanced and curation of space is important to meet the demands of modern tourists and residents. Although still a novel concept in Bahrain, placemaking and the development of space that creates destinations people want to visit, stay and ultimately shop in, is becoming accepted as more integral in its application in master planning, retail and leisure destinations. The global prominence of online shopping is increasing, and strategies are being led by omnichannel retailing. Whilst Bahrain is starting to experience the impact of this, shopping centres are still one of the main leisure activities in the Kingdom, due mainly to the climate. And, therefore online shopping is likely to have less of an immediate impact on brick and mortar outlets. Bahrain’s current position presents an opportunity for retail and F&B occupiers looking to enter the market or expand. The increasing supply has created some downward pressure on rents leading to reduced occupation costs. Landlords are further incentivizing tenants, particularly established international and homegrown brands that drive footfall. Flexible leases, affordable

rents, growing acceptance of turnover rents, and extended grace periods, along with more of a partnership-based relationship between landlords and tenants, all contribute to evolving Bahrain into a supportive environment for retailers to launch and grow. There is also a growing appetite for new brands. The increase in retail destinations has created a level of repetition and homogeneity in tenant mixes. CBRE is aware of interest from brands from other areas of the globe, particularly from Asia, that are looking to expand their footprint into the Middle East. The continued evolution in the Kingdom’s retail sector is creating greater opportunity for those already operating in the country, in addition to those hoping to expand into the region. As new supply continues to enter the market, diversification will prove crucial in ensuring that new and established brands alike succeed in the long-term.

HEATHER LONGDEN, Associate Director and Head of Advisory & Transaction Services – Investor & Occupier, CBRE Heather Longden is from the UK and has been based in Bahrain for 14 years. Heather has worked for CBRE Bahrain for five years and her current role is Associate Director and Head of Advisory & Transaction Services – Investor & Occupier. Heather provides real estate advisory services for commercial properties including retail, office and industrial.




the Gateway to the Gulf P

erched at the north of the Arabian Peninsula is Bahrain – a nation with a history over 4,000-years of welcoming visitors from across the world. Lying at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, the cluster of 33 islands sits at the heart of the Gulf, with flights from most cities in the region taking around an hour. Not surprisingly, Bahrain is growing to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Middle East. In 2018, the Kingdom received 12million inbound visitors to the country, an increase from 2017's 11.4million visitors. Just a few hours drive, Saudi Arabia continues to be the source country for the highest number of visitors to Bahrain, reaching 10.7million last year. Close to a million visitors flocked to the country from the rest of the GCC, while inbound tourist flows from Asia and the Americas also rose. In addition to the country’s excellent connectivity and infrastructure, Bahrain’s touristic appeal is defined by its old-meets-new charm. Home to two UNESCO world heritage sites, the country puts up an impressive display of modern leisure, hospitality and retail offerings. Latest figures show the tourism sectors contribution was around 6.3 per cent of Bahrain's GDP, and more developments are underway to support this growth.


Mall of Dilmunia The first-of-its-kind development in Bahrain, the Mall of Dilmunia is a US$137million retail destination covering an expanse of 26,754 sqm in the heart of the country’s well-being island, Dilmunia. Scheduled to open in October 2019, the mall brings together a choice of 200 retail outlets, F&B concepts, including alfresco options, premium entertainment and leisure under one roof. The crescent-shaped structure follows a nature theme, flanked by a canal and lush green spaces that extend within the mall. Moreover, in a first for Bahrain, the mall will also feature a state-of-the-art ice rink.

Marassi Galleria Set to open in 2021, Marassi Galleria is a 200,000 sqm shopping and entertainment destination located within Marassi Al Bahrain, a premium seafront development off Bahrain’s pristine Marassi beach. The destination will host five interconnected districts, each themed to suit a variety of tastes: the High Street, Family Plaza, Waterfront Dining Promenade, an Animated Rooftop and the Luxury Courtyard. Serene walkways will connect the centerpiece space to the rest of Marassi Al Bahrain, and also link it to two luxury hospitality projects – The Address Hotels and Resorts and Vida Hotels and Resorts. With a multi-screen cinema, an ice rink and aquarium, Marassi Galleria takes entertainment to a new level in Bahrain.

Liwan by Seef Properties Located in Hamala in Bahrain’s Northern Governorate, Liwan is a US$132.7million mixed-use development project slated to open by the end of 2019. The project seeks to transform the area into a recreational hub, with open walkways and green spaces that appeal to tourists and residents alike. Spread over 122,000 sqm, the development will also feature residential units and amenities, a well-equipped health club, a cinema, a family entertainment centre, retail outlets, and restaurants and cafés, with stunning views of a beautifully landscaped pedestrian boulevard.

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate. The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment. The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport. For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com



The evolution of the Mall:


continues to break boundaries



he phenomenon known as ‘retailtainment’ is gaining momentum both within and outside of the shopping mall industry. However, the term retailtainment is 20 years old. Author George Ritzer first coined the term in 1999 in his book titled ‘Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionising the Means of Consumption’. He describes ‘retailtainment’ as the ‘use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in merchandise and in a mood to buy’ these words define “IMAGINE Dubai.” Dubai Festival City Mall is a super-regional mall. This ten year old mall is competing with a heavily diversified mall-market with a game-changing proposition. From the depths of the feasibility reports the call was to deliver a new platform – one that would blend entertainment and the shopping experience in a way that had not been seen before in the UAE. Omar Al-Futtaim, Vice Chairman of Al-Futtaim, had a vision to deliver a new experience on the water where 25,000 shoppers watched the launch of the new experience on Festival Bay. In December 2016, IMAGINE was inaugurated by HH Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. IMAGINE harnesses the power to tell a story through permanent projection mapping across the largest screen in the world, the size of 10 IMAX screens. Imagine is lasers, lights, fire, water fountains combined with surround sound music and is produced entirely by Dubai Festival City Mall. The show has received two official Guinness World Records for its ground-breaking technology. By creating an experience that compels an emotional response, it connects the customer with the physical – the physical being the retail. ‘The creation of a sensory experience drives emotion that connects you to the environment’, Melissa Wingfield explains, Regional General Manager Marketing, Al-Futtaim Malls. When experience permeates every aspect of the consumer’s journey, it increases their propensity to spend. Daniel Keyes of Business Insider (2018) states that ‘37% of US consumers say that being in the ‘right mood’ leads to making impulse purchases, finding ways to create the right retail environment can drive sales, traffic and brand affinity’. This pivot to entertainment is not merely a change in mall dynamics but it is a direct reaction to the change in consumer behavior that is influencing the mall environment. There is a magnetism about ‘shared moments’ and ‘unique experiences’ with millennials. The purpose of the mall is now different, it has changed.

The challenge with the concept of ‘retailtainment’ is that - it is not easy to replicate. To operate IMAGINE, it takes a team of 30 full-time experts who have been selected from all over the world. The daily operations include maintaining, programming, content curation and execution of major events that can be seen by over half a million customers over a long weekend. By Festival City committing to run an attraction 365 days of the year it requires rigorous technical operations. Retailtainment also relies on the complex architecture of redefining the mall space. Dubai Festival City took a private marina and transformed it into an entertainment space, and rebranded this private marina as ‘Festival Bay’. The integration of indoor and outdoor environments is fundamental to the regeneration of the retail experience. This included redeveloping the F&B offer to develop premium water views, surround sound, wifi, and an ambience upgrade to complete the experience. This new ‘locator’ delivered a new precinct, a permanent entertainment space. For example, the 3rd IMAGINE Show launched in January 2019; ‘A Pirates Tale’ included a full takeover on Festival Bay of a Pirates lair complete with a 20-metre pirate ship, pop-up retail, F&B, outdoor cinema and playground. Most importantly, this is free for customers. This approach delivers a conventional retail offer in a way that the customer had not engaged with the brand before. This also remains a viable commercial model for sponsored content. The new IMAGINE show saw the announcement of its first principal sponsor, Lexus launched their new model UX as part of the total experience. Lexus utilized the attractions’ multi-sensory elements to showcase their TV commercial and enhance their brand awareness on a platform that could not be replicated by digital media channels. As the anchor tenant disappears, it could be argued that Entertainment is the new anchor of the mall. The amalgamation of entertainment into every facet of the customer experience is championing this new era in retail.

VANESSA HINTON, General Manager Marketing & Entertainment, Dubai Festival City Mall Vanessa Hinton’s career spans 18 years of experience in delivering strategy, brand development and portfolio management across MENA, the UK and Australia. Seeing through an AED 1.5B redevelopment and the launch of Festival City’s newest entertainment attraction, IMAGINE, she has been a strong advocate for the customer experience in the retail environment. Vanessa Hinton received a BA Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and a MBA from London Business School.



Voyager helps overcome business challenges Interview with Geji Masilela, Red Sea Markets By Said Haider


ardi client Red Sea Markets Company (RSMC) owns Red Sea Mall Jeddah in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia. Red Sea Mall is an iconic shopping and leisure destination and one of the largest shopping centres at Jeddah City. We interviewed Geji Masilela, the company’s CEO. He shared how the company’s use of Yardi Voyager helps them overcome business challenges.

What is your company’s background, heritage and history?

Can you describe your company’s business culture and philosophy?

GM: RSMC has been in existence for more than a decade. It was initially formed for the development of the Red Sea Mall and other properties. Our aim for the next several years is to grow our assets under the RSMC name.

GM: It’s happy and informal company culture. While we adhere to corporate norms of running a company, our leaders remain down-to-earth and approachable to our employees, customers and tenants.

MAGEJANA MASILELA, CEO, Red Sea Markets Geji, prior to joining Red Sea Markets Company as CEO spent the past 8 years leading a Malls business unit within Kinan. Prior to arriving in Saudi Arabia from South Africa, he worked for Sun International, Broll Properties and Old Mutual Properties at the iconic Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, amongst others. He has previously served as a BoD member to the MECSC, Recon MENA Awards Jury and was on the Advisory Committee for the MECSC much acclaimed publication: From Souks to Malls, Motivate - 2014. He is a University of South Africa graduate in Bachelor of Commerce, additional to a Certificate in Shopping Malls Management from the University of Pretoria. He also holds certificates in specialized programmes from INSEAD, CASS, ULI amongst other notable global institutions.


What is most important to maintaining your company’s brand identity and desired position in the market? GM: Defining who we are and pursuing those ideas to exceed our customers’ expectations.

How would you describe the retail market in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular? GM: It’s fast-paced with many challenges and rewards. Saudi customers are sophisticated and well-traveled and expect global standards and quality.

Where does your company’s brand stand in the current market? GM: Red Sea Mall is an iconic shopping and leisure destination and one of the largest shopping centres at Jeddah City. The mall has 242,200 square meters of the built area that includes a five-star hotel, a seven-story office building, an external and a covered parking area. The mall blends international and local brands with a variety of restaurants, cafes, diners and entertainment options.

Could you explain the number or value of the assets involved? GM: We’re still in the formative stage in terms of assets. We currently have one operating asset and another asset under development. We’re actively looking for growth opportunities.

What’s your role? GM: I’m primarily responsible for identifying and executing our growth initiatives.

What prompted RSMC to select Yardi Voyager as its property management and accounting platform in 2017? GM: We needed better data accuracy and analytics to understand changing trends and speed up decision-making. We also liked the system’s reporting and analysis capabilities and its workflow simplification.

How has Yardi Voyager helped you overcome challenges? GM: At the most basic level, it’s important to start using data to shape the future in contrast to being reactive or, even worse, working with obsolete data. Yardi Voyager makes all relevant information available at our fingertips, without having to ask anybody or wait for reports to be prepared. It has improved our reporting with auto-reports and tailor-made dashboards. We can also use analytics generated by Voyager to predict trends.

Has Yardi Voyager helped to develop collaboration within your team? GM: Immensely. People are talking to each other much more and they’re very excited about the system. Also, as we work more efficiently, Voyager takes manual tasks off our hands and helps our team achieve that elusive work-life balance by having more personal time.

How do you see your partnership with Yardi evolving going forward?

What motivates you? GM: I have a love of shopping malls, serving mall customers and retail partners.

GM: Along with consolidating our property management data into one platform, Yardi Voyager will enable us to easily scale as we execute new opportunities for growth.

SAID HAIDER, Regional Director, Yardi Middle East Said Haider (Lebanese national) joined Yardi in 2012 and has more than 11 years of sales and business development experience in the Middle East region. He headed the sales of Oracle practice at Global Technology Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), a Government of Dubai Company. Additionally, Said has held sales and marketing positions with technology and service companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. He holds a B.Sc. degree in Computer Science from the Lebanese American University in Beirut.



Jabal Omar Project

A multi-use development project within walking distance of the Grand Mosque of Makkah


s the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to increase its capacity to welcome a growing number of pilgrims, JODC proudly contributes to the development of the area surrounding The Grand Mosque and strives to provide Makkah’s visitors and residents with a unique spiritual and physical experience. Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC) is one of the largest real estate developers in the Middle East and one of the

largest listed companies in the Saudi Tadawul Stock Exchange. Its flagship project, Jabal Omar, is an integrated mixed-use iconic real estate development, within walking distance of the Grand Mosque in Makkah Al-Mukarramah. The Jabal Omar project lives up to the sacredness of place and spirituality of time. It is where pilgrims and visitors to The Grand Mosque find peace, harmony, and content. The project is a blend

JAMIL GHAZNAWI, Commercial Chief, Jabal Omar Development Co. Jamil has over 11 years of experience in the Saudi market with a focus on project development and real estate investments. He heads four organizations and became a CEO at the age of 30. Jamil holds a BBA degree from the Intercontinental University of America and an M.Acc. degree from Fullerton University in California.


of tradition and innovation which preserves the Islamic (particularly Makkah’s) architectural style, infusing it with a touch of modernity. The project will offer a distinctive design, luxurious atmosphere, and superb service that lives up to the holiness of the place. Jabal Omar seeks to offer guests the comfort, tranquility and peace of mind that is worthy of Makkah while achieving the goal of developing the land and improving human lives. The project is spread over an area of 230,000 sqm with around 2.5 million sqm of the builtup area consisting of 40 residential towers and hotels. The project includes a retail concourse, a conference hall, public parks, more than 4,000 car parking lots and other related facilities, as well as over 12,000 hotel and residential rooms, and 208 villas. The location of the project gives it a strategic advantage, due to the significance of The Grand Mosque for the Muslims. For this unique reason, we believe the project will be insulated against any economic downturn locally or globally.





High-rise Towers

2.6M m2 Built-up Area, Land

230,000 m2


International Hotels


Commercials Units

100,000 m2 Commercial Area

Souk Al Khalil


To complete your journey to Makkah, Jabal Omar provide a variety of rich shopping and dining experience at Souk Al Khalil which is one of the biggest commercial centers in the vicinity of The Grand Mosque. Currently, Souk Al Khalil S1, S2 are operating to provide customers’ needs and wants. With the upcoming 12 retail projects within the 7 phases, it will cover all kinds of needs for different types of ages, genders, segments, and purchasing power as well as catering to the local Makkah residents. With all of those promising commercial projects, JODC created a new company called SAHAT Property Management Co. which is managing all JODC malls. It provides innovative property management and quality services such as mall management, leasing, consultancy, and market study. Recently, SAHAT and a well-known international retail consultant are working to build a new strategy for the existing and upcoming commercial centers in Jabal Omar mega project.

19,322 m2

Your shopping choice in the holiest city


Branded Apartments


Penthouses, Villas & Apartments


Carparking Spots

GLA 2017 Footfall

7,530,000 131 Shops

21 F&B Shops

4 Floors

Al Khalil Courtyard

The modern way of shopping in the vicinity of the grand mosque, Masjid Al Haram Al Khalil Courtyard is a temporary project with a modern way of shopping in the vicinity of the grand mosque, Masjid Al Haram. A unique outside sales area was created where the shoppers can browse round 36 independent shops and 7 kiosks in an open area. The Project is planned for one year, after which it will be given a monthly extension. It’s going to be a good opportunity to test one of the most dynamic markets around Al-Haram. Al Khalil Courtyard is going to be ready for operation on the first day of RAMADAN 2019.

WAIL BALKHAIR, CEO, Sahat Property Management Company Engineer Wail comes with 20 years’ experience in different fields with a speciality in malls management. He currently holds the CEO position of Sahat Property Management Company (Jabal Omar Subsidiary running the shopping malls inside Jabal Omar mega project in Makkah), besides being Board member for the Middle East Council of Shopping Centers MECSC based in Dubai, member of the International Council of Shopping Centers ICSC in New York, and also headed the Shopping Centres committee in Jeddah Chamber.



Optimum Izmir, Southwestern Turkey

Del Amo Fashion Center, the South Bay of Los Angeles

The importance of connection and the role of context within Retail Centers I

n 2018, projects designed by our firm 5+design won ICSC Gold Awards for retail renovations and expansions in three of ICSC’s eight global regions – China, Europe, and the United States. A key feature of these awards is that the financial performance of each project entry is weighted into the judging criteria, which means that among other attributes, each of these centers has proven to be a very strong performer in their respective region. Another aspect of these projects is that they are all classic retail centers. They are all primarily indoor centers, they all contain a mix of retail and F&B with a smattering of entertainment, and they all are focused on the widest swath of the market, in other words, they are neither skewed towards luxury, nor value. We are very proud of these awards and of these projects. But what differentiates them from numerous others? What sets them apart? Obviously, each of these centers is well run, by owners and operators who have a long-term commitment to their assets and lease and program them accordingly. But beyond that, I believe our firm’s focus on connecting our projects to their locations, and tying them to their sites, has enabled these centers to become a meaningful part of the lives of the people who visit them, and has played a major role in their success. Our US-based project, Del Amo Fashion Center, is located in the South Bay of Los Angeles, where a strong coastal influence intermingles with suburban-scaled architecture and landscaping. In this project, we focused on creating soft surfaces which would interact with the natural light and utilized a light, coastal palette for all surfaces. A large-scale mall spread over several city blocks, we also created a unified identity through the implementation of a consistent design language over multiple entrances and connection points. Our project in Europe, Optimum Izmir, is located in Southwestern Turkey and is an extension to a project we also designed several years earlier. This project also celebrates light, through a large skylit

central atrium, but the color palette and textures are richer, and more in keeping with the aesthetics of the region. Large play areas, restaurants, and other amenities spill from the inside to the outside, connecting the project to its surroundings. And finally, our project in China, China World Mall, located in the heart of the city of Beijing, and within a campus of office, hotel and residential buildings with very strong historical importance in the city, is designed both to fit in and to stand out. Its sophisticated, urbane aesthetic grounds it to the campus it sits in and announces itself to the adjacent Third Ring Road, one of Beijing’s busiest thoroughfares. The project’s defining elements are its two levels of bars and restaurants at the upper levels, which look out to China’s CCTV building and the new Central Business District. This spectacular adjacency, which the project takes full advantage of, has made this dining collection a must-see destination in the city. Over the years our firm has designed open-air centers, enclosed centers, country marts, outlets, stand-alone retail, and retail that is part of larger mixed-use developments, sometimes dominant, other times ancillary. In every instance and with every project, that connection to site and surroundings has made the difference, in terms of creating places that feel unique and meaningful, and translate into value for owners, operators, and tenants. China World Mall, Beijing China

MIKE ELLIS, Chief Operating Officer, 5+design Mike Ellis plans and implements overall business strategy for 5+design. Mike identifies emerging trends to determine demand and places 5+ into new markets, which act as a constant source of rejuvenation and allow the company to explore novel, creative approaches to design. He is the principal on the outside, working to most honestly represent 5+ on the world stage. Mike recognizes that an emphasis on true collaboration is fundamental to any working system. To him, reaching the end of a project means the beginning of something big: continued partnerships in creating inviting, connected spaces across nations.



2019 cycling trends from


OSE Bikes is a bike expert from Germany with more than 110 years of tradition. The development of the company from a small specialist supplier to an international, digital omnichannel brand has created a stir in the bike industry. The focus of the family-owned business, with more than 300 employees, is on custom-made bikes. All dream bikes are carefully assembled by hand at the headquarters in Germany and delivered worldwide. A digital bike configurator allows you to personalise your bike online or in one of the award-winning concept stores. Apart from complete bikes, ROSE also offers single components, accessories and clothing. In the following, ROSE Bikes presents cycling trends to watch for in 2019, exclusively for Retail People Magazine.

GRAVEL RIDING Gravel Grinding – riding and racing on unpaved roads – is becoming more and more popular. “There are great unpaved tracks where you can find freedom, nature, fun and challenges,” says Anatol Sostmann, Marketing Manager at ROSE Bikes. On a bicycle, you experience the environment from a different perspective and get to know your neighbourhoods even better. “A bike gives you a wider radius than your usual running track. Thus, you can explore smaller streets and alternative roads step by step. You’ll soon know every corner in the region as well as the most beautiful spots, which will turn you into a real trail expert,” says Sostmann. For a real gravel grind ride, you need a special gravel bike like the BACKROAD or the PRO CROSS GRAVEL by ROSE Bikes. The bikes are based on traditional road bikes but fitted with more aggressive, wider tyres and disc brakes. A somewhat upright riding position is more comfortable over long distances. A special frame design and a seat post with flex absorb shocks.

E-BIKES Whether for daily commutes to the office or for weekend bike tours – Electric bikes are fun and have become a common sight in cities. They give the rider more independence by increasing their radius. Electric bikes have developed rapidly over the past years. They have become lighter, their motors are more silent and efficient and you can hardly see any difference to non-assist bicycles anymore. This is because many models come with a battery integrated into the frame – just like the XTRA WATT EVO by ROSE Bikes. In this model, the battery pack hides underneath a high-quality design cover made of carbon and thus becomes one with the overall frame design.

E-MTBS This year, many manufacturers electrified their mountain bikes. The sporty version of the e-bike allows mountain bike enthusiasts to ride their favourite trail without burning off all of their energy. Thanks to the electric motor, fun overrides endurance: coordination, speed, range of motion and riding technique. E-mountain biking feels like playing a video game in real life. You still have to invest some effort though. “Like traditional pedelecs, e-mountain bikes only provide pedal assistance, so you still have to pedal yourself. The motors offer different pedal-assist modes. Depending on the selected assistance mode, terrain and elevation profile, the battery life varies between one and three hours. The ELEC TEC FS by ROSE Bikes comes with a motor and battery pack by Continental, both integrated into the frame. For more information visit www.rosebikes.com

THORSTEN HECKRATH-ROSE, Managing Director, ROSE Bikes GmbH Thorsten is a passionate cyclist and CEO at ROSE Bikes. He developed a strong digital approach for a new award winning retail concept for the brand ROSE connecting all channels through customizing bikes and using the customer’s measuring data.




Designing a transformative future for retail in the Middle East

onversations around retail are evolving faster than they have in the past. Last month, FITCH invited a group of C-Level executives from the UAE’s leading retailers and property groups to come together to discuss how malls and other destinations could enhance customer experience and develop deeper, more direct relationships with shoppers. Only a few years ago, this conversation would have been had by mall operators, retailers and space planners. They would have discussed store design, merchandising, visual merchandising, customer circulation and creating a ‘wow’ experience. The conversation would have been very much focused on the store itself. The level of transformation within the retail sector over the last decade has made today’s retail environments very different; now wider conversations with a range of consultants, experienced specialists and digital technologists are present. As the global consumer mindset continues to shift from desiring a product-led experience to a service-led experience, the retail environment must adapt alongside to go much further than simply selling goods. At FITCH, we have had our own journey. When we first started in 1972 we consulted on and designed physical retail stores. Fast forward to 2019 and our focus revolves around our world-class expertise on the omni-channel journey. Whilst retail design is at the essence of FITCH, we are now just as much about retail innovation, and the incorporation of digital into the heart of the wider consumer experience. We provide strategic insight and creative design for retailers as they seek to deliver the best consumer experience possible. How? Through a seamless balance of physical, human and digital touch-points. We develop tools for brands looking to stay at the forefront of modern retail experiences. We understand how different frictions function, and pivot them to become a part of the experience too. Our developments have global applications, and we support clients as they design the future of their consumer experience proposition all over the world. Here in the UAE, the determination to be the vanguard of future city development, and its increasing popularity as a destination of choice for international brands

looking to expand into the Middle East, has shaped the region to be an impressive market of technological progress. We recently launched our MXP technology in the UAE, which enables malls and destinations to provide a seamless service to digitally-native consumers by connecting a destination’s digital touchpoints, such as interactive kiosks, websites, apps, incentive programmes, social media and advertising. It helps destinations and mall operators manage content, analyse data, and connect touchpoints through the ease of one single platform. For the shopper: it helps to host a shopping experience which is unique, useful and engaging. Looking ahead, the Middle East is set to further strengthen its foothold as a pioneer in retail experience with its ongoing development of retail spaces. To design positive consumer experiences, retailers should no longer focus on creating strong connections with the consumer but, more importantly, look to design the right type of connection. FITCH’s involvement in the region to date has shown a great appetite for innovation, and we look forward to supporting Middle Eastern retailers as they transform for the future.

L-R: David Blair, Global CEO, FITCH; Cally Williams, Managing Director, FITCH Hong Kong; Henry Bott, Portfolio Manager, Swire Properties; Marc Lamothe, Technology Director, FITCH Hong Kong; Joyce Wabinga, Business Development Manager, FITCH Hong Kong; Jonathan Cummings, Chairman of Greater China, FITCH; Kevin Doherty, Managing Director, FITCH Dubai

DAVID BLAIR, Global CEO, FITCH David was appointed Global CEO in 2017, assuming responsibility for building FITCH’s global network, helping clients grow, and enabling them to flourish in new markets and sectors. David started on the global development team at FITCH in 2005 before progressing to establish the company’s presence in India. He has relentless commitment to delivering the best work for global clients like Adidas, Dell and Ford.



e believe, our design for mall décor is the best in the world”, Dr. Kersten Rosenau, CEO of First Christmas (Germany) and retail emotions (Dubai) says. His customers are Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi, Kingdom Centre and Al Nakheel (both Riyadh), Mall of Egypt, Cairo, Westfield, London and several hundred more in Europe and the GCC-region. “Emotional design is key for huge foot fall, happy clients and great turnover”, Rosenau adds. The really likeable German started as a lawyer and politician, was a Member of Parliament in Germany for Chancellor Merkel´s Conservative Party before he started his current business. In Dubai he has support from Mr Kacy Abouali, Director for Business Development at retail emotions, a former Events & Promotions Manager at Mall of the Emirates.

Emotionalize your Mall! Our Decorations increase Footfall and Sale

www.retailemotions.ae Email ka@retailemotions.ae Mobile +971 54 44 37 408


is helping retailers to drive an Artificial Intelligence Revolution


he next generation of customers expect brands to provide unrivaled experiential design and engagement across multiple channels and touchpoints. Keeping customer interest now requires retailers and manufacturers to incorporate cognitive, automated services that engage the customer in more personalized and relevant matter, whilst maintaining transparency of effort and security. Leading retailers have already responded to this challenge in an emphatic way with hugely positive results. The most forward-thinking of these retailers are increasingly using Artificial intelligence (AI) in combination with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technologies, to offer new ways to shop both online and in-store and to provide a new way for customers to interact with retail brands and employees. This innovative way of work - blending the work performed by software robots and retail employees – is termed Intelligent Automation (IA). This retail artificial intelligence revolution isn’t just coming, it’s already here. According to a joint survey of 1,900 retail executives – the biggest of its kind – by the US’s National Retail Federation and IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) in January 2019, 51 percent of retailers are already using AI for customer intelligence, 48 percent are using it for demand forecasting, and 38 percent are using the tech for pricing and promotion. These numbers are projected to jump to 79 percent, 85 percent and 73 percent, respectively, in the next three years as more companies deploy AI and automation in multiple facets of their operations. The findings in this report, ‘The coming AI revolution in retail and consumer products’, suggest that retail executives also anticipate intelligent automation to help reduce operating costs by 7 percent, on average, and increase annual revenue growth by 10 percent. Within the GCC, IBM is driving transformation within the retail operations space by helping clients implement Intelligent Automation to augment human capabilities, thereby increasing efficiencies and reducing errors in core support functions and processes. IBM is empowering retailers to understand their customers better by:

(i) embedding new AI-powered innovations that leverage the data the retailers hold; and (ii) develop contextual insights to pull customers into the store and improve conversion. By uncovering individual behavioral insights, the retailer can personalize each experience, optimize engagement and make relevant, compelling offers in real-time. This is essential when customers want to be provided with concierge-like services that are relevant to them and their interests and contextual to where they are in their shopping journey. For the retailers that pursue them, such investments have resulted in more efficient retail operations and the capabilities to apply the learnings on new innovative offerings for customers. These innovations are in turn redefining customer expectations across the sector. And so, from reducing shipping costs and improving supply chain efficiency to personalizing shopping experiences and helping workers acquire new skills, AI technologies are allowing retailers to compete in the 21st-century economy and better predict and serve customer needs. This is what the future of retail looks like and IBM is supporting our local clients to be the leaders in this space. Intelligent automation capabilities could help increase annual revenue growth by up to 10%, according to surveyed retail and consumer products executives

SCOTT ELLIS, Retail and Consumer Industry Lead, IBM Middle East Scott Ellis is the Retail and Consumer Industry Lead for IBM Middle East and works with CXO leaders across the sector in the GCC. He is passionate about designing and delivering innovations that enhance customer and employee experiences. Before joining IBM, Scott spent five years driving new concepts, organizational change and digital transformation within one of the region’s leading luxury and lifestyle retail organisations. Scott has led complex business and technology programmes for clients of Deloitte and Accenture in the US, UK and Europe and based on his successes, he won the prestigious Consultant of the Year award from the Institute of Consulting and Chartered Management Institute (UK). Scott is a regular contributor to retail industry publications and speaker/panelist at global retail-focused seminars.



Investing in growth: The value of portfolio optimisation to meet asset management challenges


n 2018, the total assets under management (AuM) experienced the strongest growth in a decade. Thanks to a bull market, the AuM grew at an average of 6% annually in the past five years. Increasing market volatility, pressure on margins and demands for more transparency among stakeholders are affecting performance and profitability. To stay competitive firms are needing to evolve and modernise, fast. The pursuit of high impact technologies to cut costs and meet the challenges posed by traditional portfolio management processes are top of the to-do list. Data gaps, time restrictions, varied file formats and asset categories and unique accounting systems are just some of the issues currently stalling growth. Continued poor return on investment and/or failure to unlock full investment value due to rising expenditure, reduced outcome or delayed benefits is widespread. As domestic markets become increasingly saturated with many firms offering similar services, businesses are looking to foreign markets in a bid to improve portfolio returns. Emerging markets, although not the only source of growth for asset managers are a focus point. In the eighth position in 2012, China is now the world’s fourth-largest asset management market with $4.2 trillion in AuM according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2018. Yet higher levels of geographical diversification are associated with increased operational complexity and legislative challenges. Many asset managers have, till now, escaped major disruption originating from digitalisation. But yesterday’s disinterest is rapidly disappearing as businesses come to realise the power of digital to separate winners from losers. Long-term success depends on the ability to adapt to save costs, create more clientcentricity and restore investor confidence. Those who thrive adopt faster and more effective ways of working than current siloed work processes. To alleviate industry pressures, Drooms has been assisting like the UBS's real estate investment management business with asset portfolio management for over a decade. The independent digitalisation expert recently launched its new and improved Drooms PORTFOLIO data room. The

enhanced product offering allows for the intelligent and secure portfolio management of multiple assets throughout their hold phase. The perfect partner for the likes of retail asset managers, Drooms’ AI-powered VDR makes a data room per asset available within a single platform, keeping your portfolio up to date and transaction ready even when dealing with hundreds of thousands of documents per asset. Providing a clear, unified and structural approach, the master data room is designed in single tiles per asset each coming with its own description, a gallery of images and location map. Separate and secure access granting to each asset at the user group level and quick and easy copying of granular index permissions to other groups and between assets promote further ease of use. With standard features like auto-allocation, documents are automatically sorted into the right index points. With the “transaction flag” functionality, relevant documents can now also be marked for readiness reducing the time at which assets are brought to the market by making divestment quick and easy.

ALEXANDRE GRELLIER, Co-Founder and CEO, Drooms Alexandre has been leading the company since 2003 and has been responsible for the significant growth of the data room business in Europe. Prior to Drooms, Alexandre worked as a lawyer at Lehman Brothers in Frankfurt and London in the areas of compliance and transaction management after working in industrial trading at Fresenius. He began his professional career at Commerzbank.



Last Mile Technology and Solutions makes a splash in the GCC T

he online retail market in the Middle East is growing steadily with market indicators that this will only continue. However, two major challenges have emerged which is a money pit to retailers and logistics delivery companies. First, MENA residents prefer to pay cash on delivery. The online retailers who are adapting to this preference are growing rapidly and taking market share quickly. Second, missed deliveries has posed a challenge for customers, retailers, and logistics companies. Every parcel with a failed delivery or a parcel only delivered after multiple failed attempts are frustrating for the customer and costly for the shipper and retailer. Retailers are feeling this pain in the market as customer service in last mile services are lacking. As customer experience improves with the first and last mile fulfillment, retailers will be able to gain more trust from their customers which will translate into brand loyalty. The entrance of Aqrab into the market is a much needed technology-based solution which addresses both of these challenges. Aqrab is powered by and partnered with Parcelly, a multi-award winning UK-based PUDO company. By introducing a COD (Cash on Delivery) option for payment, Aqrab is bringing innovative and proven solutions to Saudi Arabia first with plans to expand to the greater MENA region. This will allow online retailers the ability to be competitive in the market and will ultimately contribute to increased sales, customer brand loyalty, and greater trust in retailers. The Aqrab collection center network in Saudi Arabia is growing quickly and missed deliveries will soon be a distant memory! With the combination of outstanding technology and an extensive Pick Up/Drop Off network, the successful delivery rate is expected to jump to more than 99%.

The estimated value of the online retail space in the GCC region is estimated to be $48.6 billion by 2022. Currently, the value is approaching $9 billion. The expected rate of growth and potential for this market is exciting! The launch of Aqrab in the MENA region is just what the local and international retailers need to be competitive and ride the wave in this fast-growing market. Those who adapt to the current challenges will be the leaders of the future.

MICAH CARRUTH, Business Development Consultant, Arabian Peninsula Micah Carruth is a business development consultant with 6 years experience in the Arabian Peninsula. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Micah has served as president of Global Connections. Micah spends much of his time working with clients in the USA and the UK with business development efforts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recently, he has begun supporting Saudi entrepreneurs with business development services and consultancy.


Middle East shoppers value interaction - so give them the human touch T

here’s no doubting the enduring appeal of the Middle East in terms of its retail potential. You only have to look at The Dubai Mall – 5.9 million square feet of shopping paradise, home to more than 1,200 shops – to understand why millions of shoppers flock to it each year! And with the significant growth in air passenger traffic across the Middle East (passengers are predicted to almost double to 520 million by 2036*), travel retail is becoming increasingly important to brands. Dubai is an increasingly significant location for aviation not only as a hub for the Middle East but as a destination of choice in its own right. Airports in the region have made no secret about the amount of investment in new terminals, retail areas and other facilities to enhance the passenger experience. While most major brands have a travel retail strategy, it’s vital that it be tailored to the specific demands of the Middle Eastern shopper to maximise sales and create a personal shopper experience. Word of mouth is much more significant in influencing buying decisions in the Middle East compared to other regions, with the shopping experience shown to be a major factor in driving positive sentiment*. It is, therefore, no surprise that a key influencer in the region is sales staff, with 64% of shoppers saying they made a purchase as a result of this kind of interaction*. Despite – or because of – the increasingly virtual world in which we live, the human touch has arguably never been more important, particularly in the Middle East. And those brands that deliver the best personal shopper experience will prosper. This means it’s time to up the ante in terms of sales and promotional travel retail staff; whether manning the till or presenting a pop-up brand experience, each person should behave like a true brand ambassador. It’s vital they are not only well trained in terms of brand and product knowledge, but also reflect the brand in terms of having an affinity with its core target audience and their personal profiles.

Face-to-face interactions by properly trained brand ambassadors grab shoppers’ attention, start conversations and drive sales. In store, no matter how amazing an activation may look, it is the brand ambassadors who will lead the activity, engaging with customers from the start and ultimately sealing the deal. Once passengers walk into the airport retail environment, well-trained, multi-lingual brand ambassadors can be a game-changer; by recognising and even celebrating the cultural backgrounds, unique qualities and interests of passengers, in ways that digital technology can’t. And if the technology is being used to enhance the experience or collect key customer data, brand ambassadors provide the human link to introduce and guide shoppers to getting the most from it. When customers do venture in-store, they will be looking to enhance their experience in a way that simply can’t be delivered online. Creating a personal shopping experience that sparks emotion will, in turn, have a positive viral effect. Media can attract people and begin conversations, but it’s person-to-person contact that turns a conversation into a relationship.

Source: M1nd-set

MEGGAN REID, Head of Blackjack MENA, powered by Dulsco Meggan Reid is Head of Blackjack MENA powered by Dulsco, a joint venture between Blackjack Promotions and leading Emirati people solution provider Dulsco, offering 21st century retail staffing and experiential marketing solutions for Middle East brands and retailers. During her eight years with Blackjack, Meggan has spent the last four based in Dubai managing brand partnerships to ensure consistency of high quality services through unique technology platforms, world class training and real time performance visibility.



Shift to Crypto in retail sector:

New Paradigm


ubai, the fourth most visited city with almost 116,000 hotel rooms, hosted 15.9M international overnight visitors in 2018. The UAE is the second safest country in the world (Source: WEF Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report). The Dubai Government’s strategy is to make Dubai the no. 1 destination for global travel, business and events thus increasing visitor numbers, their length of stay, their spend and repeat visitation. Even during the economic crises in 2017 and 2018, Dubai saw a 0.8% increase in visitors. This is purely because of the improved accessibility, increased connectivity, continuous investment, successful partnerships and evolving destination offering and above all the level of SHOPPING and CUSTOMER Service. The increasingly competitive global marketplace of the twenty-first century, together with fundamental changes in the lifestyles of many consumers, has compelled retail organisations to transform their perceptions of themselves and the way in which they need to conduct business if they are to meet the changing needs of their customers. In particular, the increasing consumer demand for superior service and rapid developments in information technology, the internet, and telecommunications have forced retail firms to operate within a new business environment that bears little resemblance to what it was only a decade ago. At the same time, profound changes in consumer lifestyles and buying


Today a consumer is aware of all the people behind a brand, right from the customer service representative to the CEO, thanks to social media.

behavior have meant that previously successful retail business models and practices are no longer capable of providing an adequate framework to sustain effective and efficient retail operations. The critical success factors that guaranteed business prosperity in the past are, thus, no longer applicable, as retail managers have realized that they require a new paradigm for the retail industry of the twenty-first century. The two key strategic factors of this new paradigm are service and technology. There is no doubt, in my mind, that customer service, sales and technical support will continue to be the differentiating factors determining the longevity of a brand or a company. However, the landscape has changed and the battlefield is both physical and digital. The rise of social media has equipped and empowered people, and business, with new opportunities to transform themselves and their companies. Today a consumer is aware of all the people behind a brand, right from the customer service representative to the CEO, thanks to social media. Giving customers the Power of Choice and engaging them is the way to a new successful tomorrow. Unless retail business gives value to customers the ROI will not be successful. Other than the return on investment, today’s consumers are looking for a return on purchases i.e. REWARDS for their day-to-day purchases. Gearing towards the acceptance of Crypto is the new solution to enhance customer experience and earn loyalty. In 2017, an increased number of global businesses began accepting Bitcoin. Some of the world’s major companies with large retail branches accept crypto too. The growing e-wallet industry is expected to make up 46% of global e-commerce payments by 2021. Before we know it, cryptocurrencies may very well be the new cash. Emaar is officially trying and testing to redeem crypto against its Emaar hospitality F&B outlets in Dubai.

ANJU GOMES, Project Management Professional, Events Analyst / Trainer, Association Builder and Strategist www.linkedin.com/in/anju-gomes

Anju Gomes a forward-thinking planner with exceptional understanding of trends and successful methods to capitalize on changing conditions. Decisive leader with 20+ years' experience in Events sector making strategic difference to the organizational plans. Concept planning, creativity and adaptability are her key strengths. Highly effective at maximizing and achieving the organisational objectives. Thriving on experience, education and competency to lead and direct any projects.  Believer in the future of block chain technology.


sets the bar high for upcoming cinemas in KSA S

audi Arabia has embarked on a new, transformational era of growth led by Vision 2030. This decision was made by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has slowly removed the restrictive laws and provided various industries the opportunity to expand themselves and discover new territory. The KSA government by the decision of Mohammed bin Sultan also lifted the 35 years ban on cinemas, thereby unlocking a lucrative economic opportunity. This change has called for the rapid development of cinemas in the area. Blue Rhine Industries has already partnered with VOX Cinemas and Empire Cinemas for the Saudi Arabian projects and seven projects have been completed since the ban was raised last year. VOX Cinemas, one of the early entrants into the Cinema Market at KSA, have planned to invest close to USD500 million, with the aim of ultimately raising the bar for entertainment standards worldwide and simultaneously setting a high benchmark for cinemas in Saudi Arabia from inception. As 3D brand guardians, they were given the responsibility for the development of all the aspects of the built environment. So far, they have implemented digital displays, signage and payment kiosks across the middle

east in more than eight countries and over 25 locations. Blue Rhine is the signage partner for VOX Cinemas across the Middle East, as well as other cinema players such as REEL Cinemas, NOVO Cinemas and KNCC Cinescape. VOX chose them to fulfill the high standards they set out to achieve. With this partnership with VOX Cinemas, the Kingdom aims to provide cinemagoers with the best possible experience and atmosphere to make up for the last 35 years. Blue Rhine Operations Manager, Mr. Thomas Thomas, explained “Since the ban has been lifted in KSA, the signage industry has also become more competitive as a lot more projects are coming up in KSA cinema leading to the demand of digital signage providers. Our debut Saudi Cinema was VOX, Riyadh Park Mall followed closely by VOX, Red Sea Mall at Jeddah. Our latest installs were the light-boxes, entrance signs and digital displays at VOX, Al Qasr, Riyadh. We look forward to contributing to the development of the entertainment industry in the Kingdom. We aim to ensure that even though the Kingdom has been deprived of cinemas for the past 35 years, the upcoming cinemas will be on par with other leading cinemas in the Middle East.”

JOHN V JOSEPH, Sales Director, Blue Rhine Industries A Marketing graduate from the University of Wollongong in Dubai. John was one among the first three employees at Blue Rhine Industries. He joined as a Sales Executive in 2006 and worked his way up the ranks to become the Director of Sales. He firmly believes in solution selling and maintaining strong relationships to drive growth. John’s responsibilities also include the development of the regional branches across Oman and KSA. He has worked with many prestigious clients over the years now. He focuses on building a strong team to assist him in achieving Blue Rhine’s vision.


BackLite Media’s CEO Bill Fordyce (R), and Head of Destinations Ahmed Emam (L) stand near one of many large-format, high-resolution LED screens at The Beach, a Meraas leisure destination.

Meraas and BackLite Media extend advertising partnership


eraas and BackLite Media today announced an extension of their advertising partnership to now include the new destinations of Al Seef, La Mer and The Beach in addition to City Walk. This new long-term agreement will extend the advertising partnership beyond 2023. The first deal was struck between the two companies in 2016. The new agreement will provide advertisers in the United Arab Emirates with the latest digital out-of-home technology, and an unrivalled opportunity to reach the ever-burgeoning tourist inflow and residents through the very latest, and most captivating advertising solutions around today. Bill Fordyce, CEO of BackLite Media, said: “For the first time, Meraas and BackLite will provide a city-wide media program that features state of the art digital advertising offerings, making it more efficient for local, national and international brands to engage with a large number of visitors to Meraas’ retail, entertainment and dining destinations.”

Sally Yacoub, Chief Malls Officer of Meraas, said: “This extension to our advertising partnership with BackLite will ensure that our popular destinations continue to benefit from the atmospheric and vibrant advertising display technologies that BackLite has developed in the region in recent years.” Meraas manages a wide-ranging portfolio of modern urban destinations to create an active and engaging lifestyle experience for Dubai’s residents and travellers with its integration of entertainment, retail and residential spaces. Its investment in new technologies is vital to creating these modern-day experiences for visitors and residents alike. Founded in 1996, BackLite Media is the leading out-of-home advertising company in Dubai and manages the most iconic and premium outdoor signage on Sheikh Zayed Road. Through the partnership with Meraas, BackLite Media also has become a leading digital signage operator providing impactful advertising solutions to many of the largest advertisers in the Middle East.


BackLite MEDIA

Meraas is a Dubai-based holding company with operations and assets in the UAE. The company has established itself as a key innovator in UAE and follows a clear mandate to strengthen Dubai’s global position. The company has launched several projects in the real estate, tourism, hospitality, F&B, retail, leisure and entertainment, technology, maritime and healthcare sectors. Meraas has also forged collaborative relationships with key partners who will add value to its offering. Its portfolio of landmark destinations includes City Walk, The Beach, Boxpark, Pearl Jumeira, Jumeira Bay, Last Exit, The Outlet Village, Kite Beach, Al Seef, La Mer, The Yard, Bluewaters and Dubai Harbour.

BackLite Media’s dominant locations and high-quality signs are truly unique in the UAE out-of-home media market and include the premier static unipole signs on Sheikh Zayed Road and the unique digital network at City Walk. BackLite Media has also recently launched BackLite Cinema which will be managing the on-screen media for Roxy Cinema and other cinema operators in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

BILL FORDYCE, CEO, BackLite Media Bill has been serving as the BackLite Media CEO since 2018. He has managed hundreds of outdoor, airport, mall and DOOH advertising projects in more than 35 countries across the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South and South-East Asia, Western Europe and the former Soviet Union over the past two decades.



Shaping a World of Entertainment Building the Shopping Destinations of tomorrow with MAPIC events


n recent years MAPIC has expanded geographically to Italy, Russia and India, while creating events dedicated to hot industry segments such as Food & Beverage and Leisure. As evolving consumer needs force the industry to re-imagine the future of shopping destinations, MAPIC Director, Nathalie Depetro, explains how MAPIC is at the forefront of these dramatic changes.

How does MAPIC help in building the shopping destinations of tomorrow? ND: As the key event in the retail real estate calendar, at MAPIC we have recognised the huge changes happening within shopping destinations, as they transform to include far more than just shops. Of course, this is a trend that in many ways has its foundations in the pioneering malls that opened in the Middle East, which created new benchmarks for leisure and entertainment centres. This is not a new discussion, of course, but now this change is real and everywhere retail spaces are becoming more vibrant and mixed and have evolved into lifestyle destinations. And, more than ever, MAPIC remains at the forefront of this new paradigm. In 2019, our main focus is the new mix of occupants within lifestyle destinations and we will see even more diversity in the mix of new entrants and well-established retailers that will join us, from Inditex, Nike, Matalan, Primark, Galeries Lafayette and H&M to Amazon, Zalando, plus Raymond, BA&SH, Ace & Tate, Big Chefs, Daiso, Thai Wok, Jimmy Fairly, Rifle, Hamaki-Ho and Equinox Fitness. We will also welcome many more leisure players.

Why are you creating a new event, co-located with MAPIC, 100% dedicated to Leisure? ND: I am delighted to announce the launch of the International Leisure Event, a platform created to facilitate the integration of Leisure into shopping destinations and cities. During

Under the banner ‘Food: The Social Glue of the Digital Era’, industry experts will discuss new food formats, how to get the right F&B mix in retail outlets, what drives landlords and owners in their F&B choices and what food and retail destinations will look like in the future.

Tell us about the importance of Middle Eastern Players at MAPIC a full day - a day before MAPIC – over 600 professionals including retailers, leisure operators, urban planners, cities, architects, property players and leisure suppliers will gather to co-create new, sustainable business models in order to create life places that will shape a world of entertainment.

Food has become a core component of attractive places to live in. Is this why you have created a dedicated MAPIC event in Milan? ND: Definitely and, of course, where else but the home of food? The second edition of MAPIC FOOD will focus on the social function of F&B and consumers’ emotional experiences as its central theme. Taking place in Milan, 8-9 May, in parallel with the International Food Week, MAPIC FOOD is expected to attract 2,000 participants and will provide F&B and retail real estate specialists with the opportunity to focus on how food and beverage is turning retail destinations into lifestyle venues and social hubs and consider the challenges facing the sector.

ND: Developers, investors and retailers from the Middle East have pioneered many of the themes that are at the heart of MAPIC and have showcased their innovations at our events over many years. The region has also been hugely important in terms of establishing professional and innovative master-franchise agreements, which has allowed international retailers to expand across markets, and MAPIC is the perfect place for key players to meet and network. At MAPIC, we are committed to creating lifestyle destinations in tune with new ways of life. MAPIC FOOD: 8-9 May, Milan LEISURE DAY: 12 November, Cannes MAPIC: 13-15 November, Cannes

NATHALIE DEPETRO, Director, MAPIC Nathalie Depetro joined Reed MIDEM in 1995 as Sales Manager, before being promoted in 2010 to Director of MAPIC, the International Retail Real Estate Market. In this post, she is responsible for the portfolio of events dedicated to commercial real estate and the development of the galaxy of MAPIC brands, notably in Cannes, Milan, Moscow and Mumbai. Before joining Reed MIDEM, Nathalie held various management posts in real estate and investment. She has a master’s in law from the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis.



ICCA Mediterranean Chapter Summit - Antalya, February 2019 The ICCA Mediterranean Chapter's Annual Meeting was held from 17-19 February at sunny Antalya, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.


osted by the Antalya CVB and the Cornelia Diamond Hotel, the annual meeting was attended by 35 representatives of the ICCA Mediterranean Chapter from Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Serbia, Algeria and Italy. The theme for this meeting was 'The Power of Stories' and presented an opportunity for members to come together and share stories, experiences and their inspiration. The meeting kicked off with a bountiful dinner at the Cornelia Diamond Golf Club, which boasted an excellent Turkish spread with local wine tasting. The next day was opened with a warm welcome message from the Governor of Antalya Mr. Munir Karaloglu. This was followed by a session of stories and sharing experiences in the dynamic world of associations, as well as a panel discussion which saw the participation of Mr. David Macadam, CEO of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres, Prof. Tomris Ozen, Board Member of the International Federation of Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, and Prof. Gurkan Kombaroglu, Board Member of the International Association for Energy Economics. The panel focused on the current challenges associations are facing and how members of the Mediterranean chapter can better serve them. Since the choices for destinations and venues worldwide is growing and the demand for quality meetings is becoming greater, the associations face many challenges. The destination will 'make-or-break' a meeting, and associations must keep this in mind. In addition, associations consider many more issues when it comes to planning a successful meeting. These include legacy, safety, sustainability, engagement, digitalization besides others, which are real issues that reflect our ever-changing world. The panel was an opportunity for attendees to better understand the associations.

Later in the day, attendees learned about the world of digital marketing technology, Aaron Nissen from Simpleview provided examples from the Tourism Industry. The afternoon was dedicated to exploring Antalya, with a tour of ancient Perge followed by a visit to the historic ruin that ended with an excellent spread at Arma Restaurant, which specializes in seafood. The final day opened with the announcement of the launch of the new and improved ICCA Mediterranean website. Attendees were given the opportunity to participate in a collaborative workshop 'Building Bridges over the Mediterranean'. They were divided into groups and had to create a collaborative bid between destinations. This demonstrated the unique advantage of the power of collaborations with various destinations showcasing the Mediterranean. The summit was an overall success, bringing together the Mediterranean chapter attendees while strengthening the ties and relationship between destinations, besides positioning the chapter in ICCA as the largest and most diverse region. Attendees were left with a better understanding of the challenges associations were facing to meet their goals of creating the most successful meeting. A great thank you to the wonderful hosts of this short and much-enjoyed meeting: The Antalya CVB and Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort, as well as to Elif Balci Fisunoglu, Regional Director Europe and Eliza Tsolakou, Chair of the Mediterranean Chapter.

TAMARA BERNSTEIN, International Sales Manager, Expo Tel Aviv - the International Convention Center Tamara has been working for the venue for over five years, with experience in managing and organizing large international conferences, as well as developing the international M.I.C.E industry for Expo Tel Aviv and the Tel Aviv convention Bureau. Tamara is fluent in three languages and has studied Middle East politics, Arabic and graphic design.



Central Asia

The emerging retail frontier B

aku is looking forward to hosting the first MECSC event in Central Asia, Springboard, on May 16, 2019! In the coming 25 years, Central Asia will be one of the key emerging markets with its young population of over 100 million, vast oil/mineral reserves and its key position in China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Azerbaijan ‘The Land of Fire’ has always been a centre for the region due to its position on the Silk Road, the fertile agricultural land, abundant oil and gas reserves, rich history, culture and the political sway between Turkey, Russia and Iran. Over the past 10 years, Baku has been re-energized and is sowing the seeds for its future. The government is supporting the growth of the economy through nonoil industries. Retail and tourism have been designated the key drivers to lead the change, with retail being now the largest sector after construction. Over the years, Baku has been transformed from a city of bazaars and markets to a modern shopping environment with the opening of many malls including Park Bulvar (2010), Mall 28 (2013), Port Baku (2014)

and Ganjlik (2016). Opening soon are Deniz Mall (2019) and The Crescent Mall (2020). International retailers have successfully moved into the market, led by Al Hokair and Alshaya as franchisees from the GCC region. Numerous Turkish brands such as LC Waikiki and Koton have entered through local partners, and other international brands have entered without a partner. Due to the performance of these market leaders and the prospects for the region, many other international brands are considering Central Asia as an untouched opportunity for mass market and affordable brands. Neftchilar Avenue in Baku is a stunning waterfront on the edge of the Caspian Sea. It reminds visitors of Paris with its tree-lined luxury high street shops selling leading luxury brands such as Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Emporio Armani and Tod’s. It is also home to the Four Seasons Hotel and one of the best street races in the world - F1 Baku - which was on 28 April 2019. Tourism is growing at almost 10% per year, with an expectation of more than 3 million visitors in 2019.

REYHAN GULIYEVA, Leasing Manager, URBN Limited; Co-Regional Representative MECSC With over 10 years’ experience as a retail professional, she has been one of the key drivers in developing, leasing, successfully opening and operating the new wave of malls in Baku. She has also been instrumental in assisting international brands to enter and if necessary find local partners in the market.


Recently the government eased visa regulations so tourists from many countries can obtain a visa on arrival, including the GCC and China. Many international carriers are now flying to Baku and FlyDubai has begun daily flights from the UAE. Azerbaijan is slowly building a niche on the global map. It is rich in music, dance and art with a culture stretching back 40,000 years, as can be witnessed at the Gobustan Petroglyphs (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Baku’s history can be seen through the old walled city, Palace of the Shirvanshahs and globally unique waterfront esplanade and the Bulvar. Recently it has been referred to as ‘The New Dubai’ with its modern architecture such as the Heydar Aliyev Centre designed by Zaha Hadid, Flame Towers, SOCAR Tower and soon to be added globally iconic waterfront hotel, residences and mall at Crescent Bay. With a welcoming culture, delicious local cuisine, a stable oil price, a young population hungry for a global offering and a tourist influx, the retail scene is rapidly expanding in Baku. Regionally, new mixed-use mega projects including retail, are planned and are being developed in every country. In Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, Aldar is developing the Abu Dhabi Plaza. Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, will be home to an international financial centre. Tblisi, Georgia has many large scale projects under consideration, to name just a few. Central Asia will be transforming rapidly in the next 5 – 10 years. It is a quickly growing market craving Global retail, F&B and entertainment options. MENA retailers and suppliers would be wise to look closely at expansion opportunities in this region.

About Urbn Limited The initial URBN process considers the big picture and from this point forward being able to identify, define and manage profitability through to completion. Our unique mix of international and local expertise gives URBN unmatched skills to create an unrivalled team in the CIS and Central Asia — to our knowledge, there is no other company like URBN in this region that understands the multiple languages and cultures. Our integrated specialist teams of internationally qualified and experienced professionals create a complete professional real estate eco system. All our specialist teams and their skills are the URBN difference.


Open Flame Kitchen Dubai Mall – New Luxury for Dining


ulinary masterpiece in each dish. Flavors which hearten your soul. Service beyond compare. Ambience which flatters the eye. Fabulous views over the dancing fountains of the lagoon at Dubai Mall. OFK is the recent addition to the award-winning restaurant group Gastronomica Middle East, which opened their latest phenomenal concept in the new luxury section of The Dubai Mall.


The OFK menu is International fusion and every dish is a feast for the eye in presentation and delivered on unique dishes. The plates of delicacies are designed for sharing at the table. We let the waiters order their favorites and were thrilled with the result. Dishes such as Aged Balsamic Avocado, Short Rib Ouzi, Wagyu Kushiyaki, Jalapeno Hamachi Maki, Choturo Tataki were up our sumptuous dining delicacies. At the end of the meal, we shared plates of Ultimate Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Parfait which disappeared quickly behind smiles. The ambience inside the venue, the open kitchen, the contem-porary setting, the atmosphere created by unusual lighting, natural woods, and just the right intimate size made the evening very enjoyable. Gastronomica Middle East is a leading restaurant operator dedicated to the development of original and upscale dining concepts on a global scale. The newly opened OFK is now definitely ranked as a leader of original dining concepts in the Middle East. Gastronomica currently operates nine unique popular dining concepts such as OFK, which were conceptualised in-house. Operations are in Kuwait, KSA, UAE, Oman and Bahrain.

Success by the Gastronomica team has been achieved by focusing on super high-quality products that are based on the Total Dining Experience. Indoor and outdoor seating at OFK is current running at capacity every night. The Dubai Mall is a perfect venue for this new upscale and popular dining masterpiece.


Retail Milestones

High Five

LAUNCHING / OPENINGS ARABIAN OUD opened their 900th store in Washington DC. This is their second location in the United States. The launch was announced at their Annual Event Celebration in KSA in April. FAMOUS DAVE'S , an American favorite, award-winning BBQ restaurant opened at the Dubai Festival City Mall. Famous Dave's is the first restaurant in Dubai and the fourth brand from Tablez Food Company at Dubai Festival City Mall. JELLY BELLY ICE CREAM opened its ninth shop on Bluewaters Dubai this April. There are more than 50 flavours, all of which are inspired by the company's trademark jelly beans, and include favourites such as Very Cherry, Tutti Frutti and Triple Chocolate.


STEVE MADDEN , a US footwear brand opened the largest

international store in The Dubai Mall and the largest outside of its home market. The opening of the 4,000 sq ft store coincided with the launch of the brand’s 2019 spring-summer collection. There are special feature areas and interactive zones that offer a tremendous boost to customer experience. VOX CINEMAS celebrated the launch of its second branch in Riyadh, with the opening of its multiplex in Al Qasr Mall. With a seating capacity of 1,294, this VOX Cinema features 15 screens bringing the total number of screens in the Kingdom to 31.


AL-OTHAIM LEISURE AND TOURISM COMPANY recently launched the two most awaited entertainment centres, FABYLAND and XTREME ZONE, at the largest entertainment destination located in the Mall of Muscat this April. Both feature a wide range of thrilling rides and attractions for all age groups. BackLite MEDIA announced the launch of its new division ‘BackLite Cinema’. BackLite Cinema will pioneer and innovate cinema advertising to improve traditional cinema advertising by enhancing advertising through location, audience, research, data and mobile technology. BackLite Media are now the advertising partner for Roxy Cinemas at Boxpark, La Mer, The Beach and City Walk.


GEEKAY the leading destination for Video Games, Licensed

Merchandise and Action Figures continues to expand across the region. Geekay launched three new stores, the latest located in the Mall of Muscat, Oman. At present, Geekay operates 24 stores across the GCC region in major shopping malls.



1. Arabian Oud 2. Jelly Belly 3. VOX Cinemas 4. Al-Othaim Leisure And Tourism Company

LULU HYPERMARKET opened its largest branch in the Mall of Muscat in Oman. It was inaugurated in the presence of government officials and representatives from local business communities. The new hypermarket is spread over an area of 230,000 sq ft and is situated in the prime location of Mabela.


MALL OF MUSCAT was opened and inaugurated by H.H. Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture in Ma’abela this April. The mall has the region’s largest aquarium spread over 8,000 sqm. Built by Al Jarwani Group, Mall of Muscat has over 200 retail outlets, many attractions including Novo Cinema and a Snow Park covering over 5,600sqm which will be opened at a later stage.



YARDI was named Property Software Company of the Year in the UAE at the recent Arabian Business Technology Awards in Dubai. Yardi has a proven track record in the Middle East for providing long-term, customer-focused solutions that represent innovative use of technology across the real estate sectors. CAIRO FESTIVAL CITY MALL received the ‘Leading Performance

in the Retail Sector’ award during the Annual bt100 Awards Ceremony in Egypt. Cairo Festival City Mall was selected to receive the award for playing a major influential role in the Egyptian retail sector.


5. BackLite Media 6. Famous Dave's 7. Steve Madden 8. Cairo Festival City Mall 9. Lulu Hypermarket 10. Mall Of Muscat 11. Yardi 12. Geekay




12 10 RETAIL PEOPLE . MAY-JULY 2019 .49


Each one of us has a story that maps the path of our success which can be an inspiration for others. Share your SUCCESS story with us and be featured in the magazine. Time for you to say – My Choice, My Success, My Story.

SUCCESS My story so far STORY My Journey

I was born in the city of Manama, Bahrain. I did my schooling in Sultanate of Oman and further did my graduation in India and post-graduation in the United Kingdom. I did my post-grad in strategic management and marketing specialty as I was always and am a marketer by heart. As a fresh graduate, my sphere of job search was only on marketing roles however I failed in securing a job in my preferred field at the time due to lack of work experience. I accidentally landed up in one of the largest private companies in Oman as a commercial promoter managing real estate assets including retail and shopping center. This was in the year 2000 and I developed a keen interest in retail as I found the industry requiring creativity and innovation as a characteristic for the industry this would be an extension to my marketing inclination. The investors wanted to redevelop one of the malls wherein an international consultant was appointed to re-merchandise the mall and facelift the interiors and exteriors and improve the parking. Ironical that I am currently working on a similar scheme for a project in Bahrain with the same consultants and architect who I worked with 19 years ago.

The Turnaround

GOGI GEORGE General Manager, Development & Leasing Oman Avenues Mall Lulu Group International

It was in the year 2005 that in one of my visits to Dubai that I realized how the wave of retail was going to overwhelm the region. Upon my return, I instinctively decided to leave my job in Oman immediately. To the surprise of my parent and colleagues, I moved to Dubai to pursue a retail career without even securing a job offer in Dubai. A calculated risk, I believe molded the course of what I would be doing for the rest of my career. I was fortunate to get recruited as an Estate Manager for Union Properties PJSC in a few weeks of time in Dubai, my first assignment was to manage the mixed-use development ‘Uptown Mirdiff’ especially managing the retail community which at the time was the largest outdoor retail concept in Dubai. Even though the role was more of an operational and management role, I soon realized that without a functional retail mix, one cannot establish the foundations of sustainable development. I volunteered to take over the leasing reins and managing the leasing process by myself even though as I was aware that an outdoor retail premise would struggle due to the weather conditions. The property shaped quite well and I eventually assumed the management role wherein I managed the fit-out and the opening of the outlets and eventually operating the asset for the first two years. With the success of the property at the time, the company promoted me as the head of the retail wherein I was responsible for a large portfolio of assets ranging from community malls (Green Community and Motor City Retail Community) to niche retail offerings like Ritz Carlton Hotel DIFC, Index Tower DIFC, etc which were all diverse in its own offering. I moved to Line Investments & Properties in the year 2010 leading the leasing role for a host of properties in Abu Dhabi including Al Wahda Mall which went through a massive expansion program. One of the key challenges at the time was the integration of an existing

Retail is going through tremendous changes structurally and unless you are ready to be innovative and adopt a different approach from what has been in practice in the past, it is going to be very tough to overcome the challenges of the business. Nujum Al Amerat Mall, Muscat, Oman


Oman Avenues Mall

mall to a new extension which was almost the size of the existing mall, so the merchandising mix must complement with the old mall rather than compete. Upon successful completion and the opening of the project, I moved to Oman to head the role of regional head of malls in Oman and launched Oman Avenues Mall, which at the time of going into print of this article is the largest operational retail asset in Oman. We currently have 24 standalone properties and 4 full-fledged Malls in Oman among the assets which we manage and operate. I am also currently engaged in restrategizing and launching a shopping mall in Bahrain which we recently assumed ownership of and am also supporting the team in Saudi Arabia with some of the retail assets there.

My Success, My Story I believe that the key to longevity in this business is flexibility and the keen interest to learn. Retail is going through

that I would 6 Learnings like to Share 1. One shall advance in their career or life only if they assume risks when required and park their fear of failure, like the quote by author JK Rowling “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.’’

RECON MENA 2018 Gold Award in Marketing Excellence, Cause Related Marketing

tremendous changes structurally and unless you are ready to be innovative and adopt a different approach from what has been in practice in the past, it is going to be very tough to overcome the challenges of the business. Another important factor is the passion towards business wherein the true spirit of success can only be realized if you really have the passion and perseverance.

2. Lead your team from the front and keep the team inspired and motivated to act as a group, one is only successful as much as the team. 3. Strive for excellence in anything you do and this may be from the smallest of the tasks but attention to detail is key in customer-centric business-like retail and practice it religiously. 4. Evolve in every step aligned to your environment, it is impossible to stay ahead in retail if one would not be innovative and evolve from the learnings of the past experiences. 5. The key to a shopping malls sustainability is the merchandising mix and the functionality of it, landlord-tenant relationship is fundamental to achieving a viable and conducive environment.

Rendered Image of Proposed Face Lift of Dana Mall, Bahrain

6. Last but not least, passion is the most important attribute to members of the retail fraternity. If you do not enjoy your work despite all the odds, then it is an indicator that you do not have a passion for the role and should be seriously considering a different career choice.


There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth – Leo Tolstoy Keynote Speakers

Organized by the largest Retail Industry Association

DAVID ROWAN Editor-in Chief, Wired's UK

CATE TROTTER Head of Trends, Insider Trends, London

The author of Non-Bullship Innovation. Radical ideas from the World's Smartest Minds (Transworld 2019), a global quest for bold corporate innovation in the face of technologyled disruption.

Cate combines unique, powerful insights with solid data, presenting them in a no-nonsense way. She uses inspirational case studies to show how audiences can tap into these trends and get ahead.





For more details, contact MECSC Office: +9714 359 7909 / www.reconmena.com


MECSC Corporate Members BRONZE

Look Who’s Joined MECSC!!! New and Renewed Individual Members from January to March 2019 AZERBAIJAN Reyhan Guliyeva BAHRAIN

Yasmin Abou Elmakarem

Alyazia Al Qubaisi

Mark Tesseyman

Zeina Zahreddine

Amit Dhamani

Matthew Reay

Amjad M.G.E. Roushdy

Mohammed Bin Essa

Amna Al Bah

Moustafa Moussa

Amna Khalfan

Myra Searle

Ankur Kochhar

Nada Abou Saab


Ali AlQattan

Alexandra El Khouri

Donald M Bradley

Simon El Khoury

Heather Longden Shatha Rashid Aljalahma


OMAN Hussain K. Jamal



Phillip Richardson CD, BA, CRRP, CSM

Scott Forbes

GERMANY Kersten Rosenau INDIA Naaman Atallah Suresh Padmanabhan JORDAN Maram Enaya Zaid Al-Daoud KUWAIT Faisal Hasan Hamad Al Qallaf Mohamed Abdellatif Lotfy CRX, CSM, CLS

Nawaf Tareq AlMarzouq


Azza Saeed Khalfan Almarri

Oliver Morgan Phil McArthur CRX,CSM,CDP

Philippe Matta

Biju Koshy

Pinkesh Shroff

Cecil H. Huey

Qasim Radaideh

Claude Soueidane

Rachel Walton

Edjelie Munoz

Sabreen Khalifa

Abdulmalik Aldarwish

Eyad Matar

Sadique Ahmed

AlMuhsin Hamidaddin

Furqan Athar

Saeed Al Muhairy

Basma Altwejri

Georgy John

Shamji Katuwa

Danesh N. Dubash

EGYPT Yasser Assemn

Asma Ahmed Salim Busamnoh

Nadeen Ghalayini Seryani

Baiju Kurieash Pappachan

PAKISTAN Malik Qaiser Awan

Aliaa Hussein

Ashish Pathak


Shavak Srivastava

Jamil Ghaznawi

Hamid Abdelmajeed Mohammed Alzarouni

Lama Almousa

Hany Abd El-Hamid

Sunil Bhardwaj

Mohammad I.B. Alawi

Hisham Shebaro

Tim Jones

Saeed Al-Shomrani

Holger Walter

Tomas Dvoracek

Sultan Bawazer

Ishwar Chugani

Umara Usman

Ivan Palomino

Vic Bageria

Jayant Ganwani

Vikram Malkani

Faisal Alfaraj


Justin Cagwin

Mike Mathe

Kaltham Muthanna Luann Parker

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ahmad Juma Al Musharrekh Ahmed Ismail Akram Raffoul



Majid Al Mualla Malcom Joseph Marcello Larizza CSM, CRX

UNITED STATES Debra Hazel Jac Crawford


The evolving retail scene in Oman MAIMUNAH SHEBANI, Managing Director, Retail Agency in Oman Throughout her career, she’s been involved in real estate and retail development where she gained a solid understanding of the real estate sector and retail fundamentals. Maimunah has been affiliated with the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres (MECSC) since 2012. Previously, she was the regional representative of Oman for the Middle East Council of Shopping Centers (MECSC) and has successfully held a number of Spring Board Networking events in Oman. Currently, she is a Board Member of the MECSC. Maimunah holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Bedfordshire, UK. She is also certified by Manchester Business School in Strategy and Planning.


etail is booming in Oman with several regional shopping malls opening soon, under construction or in the pipeline. However, the Retail Sector in Oman is not just expanding in terms of square meter, but also in terms of new brands, concepts and offerings. A new type of brand has recently emerged in the market; boutique homegrown retail brands and unique local F&B concepts, bringing global standards with local relevance. These growing homegrown brands are competing with big international brands that once dominated the market. While many consumers still splurge on international brands, they’re embracing homegrown brands at the same time. The biggest strength local brands have is that they are locally relevant and they understand the needs, dreams, and beliefs of their consumers and connect with them on an emotional level.

The entrepreneurship movement in Oman has been around for a couple of years but only recently the effect of this movement on the retail sector has been noticeable. Young entrepreneurs in Oman are turning away from franchises and bringing international chains to Oman in favour of grassroots ventures as they are eager to build something of their own from scratch. With local homegrown businesses on the rise, consumers now have more choice and variety. Bottom line is, retail is changing. To be successful in the markets, adaption to local taste, attitudes and values is required while maintaining an international and global standard. A decade ago, global and local were two ends of a spectrum, but today a new word has been born, glocal, meaning brands could have the best sides of two worlds; they could be both local and global.

The 9th Category WAIL BALKHAIR, CEO, Sahat Property Management Company Engineer Wail has 20 years’ experience in different fields. He specializes in malls management and is currently the CEO of Sahat Property Management Company (Jabal Omar Subsidiary running the shopping malls inside Jabal Omar mega project in Makkah); a Board Member for the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres (MECSC) based in Dubai; member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in New York; and headed the Shopping Centres Committee in Jeddah Chamber.


ccording to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), there are eight categories for modern shopping centers (Super Regional, Regional, Community Centers, Neighborhood Centers, Fashion, Themed, Power and Outlet). However, we think that there is still room for one more category on the list which is a unique mix of ‘catchment area’ and ‘customer profile’. The 9th category is influenced by its location, not the mall location, but the ones around the holy places in Makkah in Madinah. In this case, the intention for the visitors are for higher purposes and not necessarily for shopping or leisure, therefore the need to offer shopping experience and provide atmospheric matching services and leisure to the community inside the destination. Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC) is this largest real-estate developer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responsible

for the Jabal Omar project in Makkah. Occupying a 2.6M sqm build-up area in 230K sqm land in a unique destination with all the offering from 40 high-rise towers, 24 international hotels, 1,000+ commercial units, 100K+ sqm GLA, 250 Penthouses, villas, apartments and 5K carparks, the perfect community. We in Sahat (JODC subsidiary) manage the shopping centers in this mega project, and call ourselves the ‘Innovative Property Management Company’. We are in the right place at the right time to create and manage the 9th category. Knowing the Saudi government’s 2030 vision to host 30 million visitors to Makkah and Madinah, and also knowing the uniqueness of the Jabal Omar project and what it can offer in hospitality, retail, F&B, an experience to match a once-in-a-lifetime journey for many people, we want to contribute in making their experience an everlasting memory, and to provide an opportunity for the retailers to bring on their best.



One-on-One With ... Georgy John NAME



Executive Vice President COMPANY NAME

Gastronomica Middle East HOBBIES/INTEREST

Music, Tennis, Reading EDUCATION

Degree in Hotel Management PERSONAL LIFE PHILOSPHY

Lead a simple good life, upholding virtuous values. I believe work is worship but I try my best to balance my family and my hectic professional life

Share your name, designation and a brief background about yourself. I’m Georgy John, Executive Vice President of Gastronomica. I have extensive managerial experience of more than 23 years in hospitality. I’m a graduate from the prestigious Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai, having started my career as a Management Trainee with the Carlson Hospitality Group in 1996. I take great pride in being the first employee of Gastronomica, having joined the company at its inception.

You graduated with a degree in Hotel Management, is this your first choice to take up? What made you decide to take this course? My paternal grandmother had inspired me a lot. As a child, I spent a lot of time in her busy kitchen at our family plantation where she used to live. She was a kind soul, with alacrity to serve others, workers and guests alike! She had magic in her hands and used to pull off even last minute meals that tasted perfect (of course using fresh ingredients from the plantation). She was an expert on various cuisines and an exceptional baker. I was fascinated by her skills, confidence and passion to entertain guests. This, of course, was my first hospitality lesson. After school, I was addled with the choices ahead. My heart whispered hospitality while my brain dictated engineering. Eventually, my parents forced me into Bsc Honours at St. Stephens Delhi.


Fortunately, I got through the National Hotel School exam and ran away to Mumbai overnight. All thanks to my grandma, I followed my heart!

You’ve been with Gastronomica for the past 16 years now and was noted as the first employee. From Operation Manager to Executive Vice President, what’s the biggest challenge you faced and how did you deal with it? As the first employee of Gastronomica, having joined the company as Operations Manager at its inception, I grew over the years to be the Executive Vice President. I have been involved in every stage from day one, be it setting up projects or planning operations for all its restaurants. Other than operations, my main tasks include managing finance, HR, JV relationships, project management, business development, designing kitchens and logistics. Designing kitchens are what I enjoy the most. But, over these years, I’ve realised that the biggest impediment is in recruiting. Good people are hard to find. Gastronomica is a unique operator; creating, owning and operating its restaurants. Hence, we require both creators at the concept development level and executors to function and effectuate the concepts that are created. The most prominent challenge is (since we have a progressive, out of the box approach) to get:

• creative people who comprehend functionality ensuring what they create is efficient; and • the people who execute the vision who understand creativity and where it comes from to be state-of-the-art. We try and overcome this through an active recruitment process; sourcing people through various channels like head-hunters, agencies with a worldwide network, industry-specific recruiters (for example, finding architects through consultants who source people for architectural firms), portals and of course social media. We also attend job fairs and have started recruiting directly from Management Institutes, especially for our Management Trainee programs. We constantly engage with industry leaders so we stay niche and attract the right people. Internally, we have developed a culture of transparency and openness including idea sharing portals and constant networking. We focus a lot on our culture and have a culture ambassador who along with the team, focus to integrate new recruits smoothly to the organization.

Who are the people who inspire you and helped you reach where you are now? The two people who have inspired me are Johney George, my father and Basil Al Salem, the Founder of Gastronomica. My father instilled in me the importance of being principled. I comprehended the sine qua non - dedication, commitment, sincerity and hard work from him; learning thus to uphold indomitably genuine values in life, thereby building a predilection to stand up fairly for the meritorious. Basil impelled me to be free of inhibitions and encouraged me to think freely and crazily. He edified the verity that the box does not exist.

What piece of advice you can give to those who are just starting their career and for those who are in the mid of their career? For those who are at the start of their career, I would advise them to work hard and not to focus on the money. Learn all you can. Have the humility to start from down below with daring to reach out and understand every aspect of your profession. And for those who are in the middle of your career, enhance yourself. Learn, aspire and be research oriented. Know what’s happening in your field in the rest of the world and get inspired. Develop yourselves so that you can develop others. Teach, train and pass on your knowledge! Keep in mind that you can advance only by developing others.

At the recent RECon MENA Awards, Gastronomica won 3 Silver Awards – BEST MENA RETAIL BRAND, RETAIL EXCELLENCE and RETAIL STORE DESIGN. As we start 2019, what can we look forward to from Gastronomica? What preparations you are doing to be the leading restaurant operator in the Middle East? Gastronomica is a leading restaurant operator, dedicated to the development of original and upscale dining concepts on a global scale and is the leader of original dining concepts in the Middle East. The company currently has nine unique popular dining concepts, created in-house from scratch, with operations currently in Kuwait, KSA, UAE, Oman, Qatar & Bahrain. Gastronomica has had a very busy and successful 2017/2018 with the launch of multiple new projects, the latest one being OFK at the Luxury Fashion arena in Dubai Mall. This momentum continues into 2019. The company has many new venues in the pipeline, set to open throughout the GCC. Other exciting projects include a Cocoa Room in Riyadh and a new multi-storied Burger Boutique at Al Khobar. In Oman, we are expanding the company’s brand mix by introducing a new Burger Boutique to the city of Muscat. There are upcoming projects in Doha, Kuwait and KSA which will be announced soon. Moving forward, Gastronomica has many brand redevelopments and enhancements in process; this consistent stocktake and self-introspection allow us to ensure we maintain the leading restaurant operator tag.

You’ve been a member of MECSC for quite some time, can you share briefly how and who influenced you to join MECSC? Was it all worth it, what benefits have you received and will you recommend others to join the council? I was influenced to join the MECSC by David Macadam himself; who also eventually became a great mentor to me. He happened to dine at Open Flame Kitchen at 360 MALL in Kuwait; was impressed, took my number from the management of Tamdeen and rang me to say he had a wonderful experience. He invited me to the next networking event and it all began there! What I like most about MECSC is that it’s unfeigned. It is serious, professional and brilliantly limited to the industry. This makes events, seminars and conferences organized by MECSC to be extremely productive. I like its no-nonsense approach. So, of course, I would strongly recommend others to join the council.


BAHRAIN Continued Development in the Retail Sector Page 18

FESTIVAL CITY MALL Redefining Entertainment Page 22

CENTRAL ASIA The Emerging Retail Frontier Page 44

ISSUE 19 MAY – JULY 2019

Al MARYAH CENTRAl Technological Sea Change Approaches the Gulf Page 14

FUTURISTIC Global Retail VR & AR in Future Retail Page 29

Circulated in 45 countries

CITY CENTRE MIRDIF Relaunched "Outdoors" Page 32

MODA MAll Bahrain’s Luxury Retail Shopping Destination Page 40

DREAM BIG IN 2019 With Traffic Data Insight Page 34

THE LEISURE WAY Bringing Emotional Value Page 48



Circulated in 45 countries

Circulated in 45 countries



Education and tEchnology in REtail


Fouad A. Al-Rashed

CEO, Asala Holding

Maimunah Shebani

Speaks about “two major projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: The Riyadh Park Mall and Tabuk Park Mall”

Managing Director of The Retail Agency

Addressing the Employment Gap in Oman through Retail Training

Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa CEO, Mall of Dilmunia

“Mall of Dilmunia will be redefining the dream mall experience with the vision to be a unique retail and entertainment destination.” A






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Retail People Magazine is for all members of the retail world. The MECSC wants Retail People to be the foremost source of knowledge information for the retail industry, where MECSC members can have an active voice in the activities of our organization. Bringing the best in you & raising your profiles at the optimum level.







Contact: MARIZ MATOCDO, Marketing Officer E: customercare@mecsc.org T: +971 4 359 7909/ +971 55 551 7605

Shopping Centre and Retail Industry in this region has evolved from corner shops to now becoming the shopping hub of the world and even more and better offering in the pipeline. And what MECSC has done is kept us, the veterans and the professionals of this industry together as one group as one community. It never fails to cease its role as a networking and knowledge hub for all of us and keeps us abreast of all what’s happening and who’s doing. RPM is indeed one of the best initiatives by MECSC and its so enriching to be associated to it both as an audience and as a contributor. And it has so much more coming. All we need to do is Stay Tuned. - Juby Jose, Head of Marketing, Specialty Leasing at Dalma Mall MECSC Regional Representative in Abu Dhabi, UAE

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Profile for Motivate Media Group

Retail People Magazine – Issue 19  

Retail People Magazine – Issue 19