With already more modern retail space per person than all other markets in the region, Dubai in theory should have difficulty in justifying any expansion. Yet that would be to underestimate the emirate’s plans to double its number of tourists in the next seven years to 20m and also to expand its resident population. During the first half of 2013 the number of tourists increased by over 11% on the previous year’s figures to 5.5m, according to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). However, neither of these factors takes into consideration the projected influx of visitors for Expo 2020, which are expected to number approximately 25m over the months of the exhibition.

Retail Space

The supply of mall space in Dubai totals roughly 2.5m sq metres of gross leasable area (GLA) which, according to various real estate reports published in 2013, is by far the highest in the region. Closest, said Colliers International, is Riyadh at 1.5m sq metres of GLA, followed by Jeddah (1.1m sq metres), Abu Dhabi (0.92m sq metres), Cairo (0.86m sq metres) and Doha (0.64m sq metres).

When the Dubai numbers are converted to GLA per head of population – around 1.35 sq metres – the supply seems inflated. However, George Kostas, the CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Properties, owners of Mall of the Emirates, told OBG that around one-third of revenues at the mall came from tourists. At Dubai Mall the proportion is almost certainly even higher, although a more precise figure was not available at time of print. Comparable figures on GLA per member of population for Doha and Abu Dhabi were 0.97 and 0.77, respectively.

Stuart Gissing, the Middle East regional director for Colliers International, told local press the Dubai retail size “doesn’t take into consideration the touristic numbers needed to show a more overall picture of the landscape and its continued success”. Once these are included, he added, “Dubai remains very buoyant and there would be further room for growth”.

Craig Plumb, head of research in Dubai of international real estate consultants Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), told OBG, “There are no really accurate numbers in retail, which is one of the disadvantages of not having a tax system. There is certainly growth in consumer spending but it is difficult to know how big it is.” The fact that retailers were still looking for space is based on increasing sales, he added.

Economic Impact 

In terms of the contribution to the overall economy, estimates of the proportion of sales to GDP range from 9% to 12%. “Most of our economic data is at the federal level and it is difficult to break up into individual emirates,” said Plumb. Abu Dhabi has around one-third of the floor space in malls that Dubai has and the Dubai total space is put by some local real estate analysts as closer to 2.8m sq metres rather than 2.5m sq metres.

Plumb’s views are supported by the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC). In its “2013 Global State of the Shopping-centre Industry” report, published in November, the ICSC said, “There are no reliable official statistics for retail sales in the UAE, but economic forecaster Business Monitor International estimates they exceeded Dh120bn ($32.7bn) in 2012 and are expected to increase at around 7.5% per annum to more than Dh150bn ($40.8bn) by 2015. Retail sales account for between 9% and 9.5% of nominal GDP in the UAE, indicating the importance of this sector to the economy.” The unreliability of numbers can spread also to individual companies.

Extensive Expension

 An extensive programme of mall expansion and construction of new retail and leisure centres over the next few years will see these figures augmented although it is impossible to say by exactly how much. Like the rest of the world, Dubai is not immune from project announcements that long precede implementation or, in a few cases, do not happen at all. Those that can be predicted with confidence include the 93,000-sq-metre first-phase expansion of Dubai Mall announced by its owners Emaar, partly with the aim of expanding its footfall to 100m visitors a year from a current estimate of 72m for 2013. Measured by its total area of 1.12m sq metres, the mall is the biggest in the world, with 350,000 sq metres of GLA. A major theme of the extension will be Fashion Avenue, reflecting global high fashion and the advent of the nascent Dubai Design District (see analysis).

“Dubai Mall’s 304,000-sq-metre expansion to accommodate more high-end brands is widely anticipated amongst retailers, which are showing no shortage of demand for new space coming to market,” Abdulhamied Ahmed Seddiqi, the vice-chairman of the watchmaker Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons told OBG. In November 2013, the chairman of Emaar Properties, Mohamed Alabbar, told Bloomberg Television that he was considering hiving off the retail business into a separate company because it would give investors a better return in the “current environment”. Though no decision had been made at that time.

Retail Revenue

 Revenues from shopping malls and retail outfits reached Dh2.3bn ($626m) in the first nine months of 2013, 22% higher than the same period of the year before. On the rise at a rate even slightly faster was the number of people visiting Dubai Mall, which increased by 24% over the 44.5m recorded in the first three quarters of 2012 to more than 55m. Apart from the Dubai Mall expansion of by 304,000 sq metres and the growing revenue figures, Alabbar revealed that Emaar had entered into joint-venture agreements with Dubai Holding and Meraas Holding in order “to develop mega-cities within Mohammed Bin Rashid City”.

In the TV interview, Alabbar said a 50-50 split between recurring revenue and so-called “property sales and trading” would be a “good number”. He added that property sales for the entirety of 2013 were expected to be worth more than $2.5bn and would likely remain at a similarly high level in 2014.

Home & Abroad

 The other mega-mall in Dubai, Mall of the Emirates (MoE), is also in full expansion mode. Including its other interests in the UAE as well as those outside the country, Majid Al Futtaim is seeking to double its sales in the next five years by investing $1bn a year during that period. A Dh1bn ($272m) expansion at the MoE, its biggest so far, will see the creation of a fashion district, new restaurants and the expansion of Vox Cinema.

The first phase is the 5000 sq metres dedicated to fashion – Majd Al Futtaim’s contribution, in spirit if not to the specific Dubai Design District (DDD) project, to the emirate’s adoption of fashion as one of its new immediate focuses.

Kostas told OBG, “In the coming years there will be a series of expansions. Today MoE is about 230,000 sq metres. We can expand that by 40,000-50,000 sq metres and immediately we will enlarge MoE by 35,000 sq metres.” Iyad Malas, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, told local press, “All the economic indicators and our own experience are telling us the Dubai market is entering a new phase of dynamic growth and development.”

He also detailed some of the company’s plans outside the UAE. Part of the $5bn, five-year growth plan involves African countries such as Mozambique, Angola, Kenya and Ethiopia. The firm is using Carrefour hypermarkets and supermarkets as anchors – Majid Al Futtaim holds exclusive rights to the Carrefour franchise in 38 countries and the group is also reported to be targeting Central Asia, as it pushes out from its UAE base. Majid Al Futtaim is looking for a repeat of the Carrefour performance in the Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq. “When we moved into Erbil, the supply chain was not there,” Malas told OBG. “However, in 2013 we had the logistics and sales were growing at 25%.”


The ICSC report said Dubai Mall and MoE were both benefiting from increased tourist numbers and attributed 2012 footfall figures of approximately 60m and 40m, respectively.

“As the retail market in Dubai has become more crowded and more competitive in recent years, another trend being witnessed is the repositioning and refurbishment of a number of the older malls,” the report added. “Festival City, Wafi and Burjuman are among the existing malls to have announced major refurbishments. Other existing centres have announced extensions and additional facilities as they seek to compete for both retailers and consumers, with significant additions announced for the Dubai Mall, Ibn Battuta and Dragon Mart.”

Secondary Malls

 According to a JLL study, the 66% market dominance of mega malls will continue in terms of footfall, sales volume, rental values and occupancy rates with an estimation that higher tourist numbers and a growing resident population will absorb even the introduction of two more major malls and around seven others over the next two years. Projects in hand are Phase I of the Avenue by Meraas and Phase II of Al Ghurair City, between them adding 48,000 sq metres of retail space.

Other developments scheduled for opening over the next one to two years are The Beach by Meraas, Phase II of Dragon Mart, Discovery Gardens Retail centre, The Outlet Village in Al Barsha, Jumeirah Park Community centre, Dubai Pearl Shopping Mall and the Agora Mall in Jumeirah.

Construction of the re-launched Nakheel Mall and Pointe Mall, both on Palm Jumeirah, is expected soon and expansion is being planned for Al Ghurair Centre, Dubai Outlet Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall and Festival City. According to Colliers International, the shopping mall space in Dubai will grow by 369,000 sq metres by the end of 2015 if all the projects in the pipeline are completed as planned.

The JLL report said community and neighbourhood malls that catered specifically to the needs of the local population were enjoying a large measure of success. Older malls such as Deira City Centre and Burjuman Centre are also being revamped to be able to continue competing with more modern facilities.

New Malls

The Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari (IMG) Group, developers behind the recently started giant Worlds of Adventure theme park, has been reported to be in search of builders for phase two of the City of Arabia project on Emirates Road. This will be a 400,000-sq-metre mall with around 1000 retail outlets and a 12-screen cinema. The whole development was revealed 10 years ago but shelved during the financial crisis. Another developer hard hit by the 2008 crash, Union Properties, also announced Dh1.5bn ($408m) worth of projects over the next three years, including two retail developments called The Ribbon and The Link, as well as expansion of the Uptown Mirdif retail district. Chairman Khalid bin Kalban said the company was in discussions to sell two projects to local banks and was also considering raising the proportion of shares allowed for foreign ownership above its current 15% ceiling.

Local Focus

 In fact the whole approach to retail development in Dubai is changing in a variety of ways. According to the ICSC report, “The market has shifted from new mega malls to smaller convenience and more specialist retail centres.” The evolution is not simply about size, or even wholly, since some of the developments may be quite sizeable as new population centres emerge, for example the one that will serve the Dubai World Central area near Al Maktoum International Airport.

Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ Kostas spelled out the philosophy of the new thinking. Malls have developed from being pure retail outlets to including sizeable elements of entertainment, as well as food and beverage options. They were intended to provide attractions for family outings that went well beyond shopping expeditions. That understanding is now being expanded into many other areas as well. “Urbanisation has been so rapid in Dubai that the emirate has missed out, to a degree, on the typical village centres where people go to socialise as well as to shop,” said Kostas. “So, malls are evolving to provide a community need and even calling them malls is slightly to misunderstand and limit them.”

The kind of extra facilities that might appear in new malls or even following the expansion of existing centres could be health and medical services clinics, optometrists, dentists and a whole range of domestic services, suggested Kostas. Sports facilities could also see greater variety, even if all sports were not suitable for such facilities.

On this particular aspect, the ideas coming from JLL’s Plumb were more wide-ranging. Emphasising the importance of maintaining a high level of entertainment, as well as eating establishments, Plumb proffered football, go-carting and cricket as possible sports that could be facilitated. Christopher Hewett, senior consultant at hospitality research company TRIM ideast, told OBG that ensuring quality family entertainment was a priority second only to providing good facilities for meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibition events.

Some of the smaller, community shopping and leisure centres are also gaining increasing popularity with Arab families who perhaps did not want to patronise places where alcohol was served, or indeed where Arabs formed only a small proportion of the clientele. This was being seen at places like Mirdif Mall, said Kostas, which has developed a prominent Emirati customer base. Expansion into the provision of non-traditional services at shopping centres is already happening. Jayant Ganwani, vice-chairman and CEO of the LALS Group, told OBG education was an important area to look at.

“Lack of suitable schools in the right place may even be a reason some white-collar professionals don’t relocate to Dubai,” said Ganwani, adding that the group was looking for a “strong, credible partner from abroad” to develop more schools.

Other activities worth considering, added Ganwani, were measures to increase the vertical integration of major retailers. “Adding value for goods to be distributed locally, such as packaging for food products and lubricants, for example, represents a large number of opportunities.” Kostas recognises there is an opportunity in Dubai for more facilities in malls and even for more malls, but not necessarily more of the same. “For example,” he said, “the expat community has an average life in Dubai of a few years. So perhaps 10% of that population changes every year. Add in the fact that the population is also expanding and it makes sense in a city like this to have a homemaker centre.” Apart from new ideas, even the traditional attractions need regular refreshing. Considering the time and money people spend eating out, Hewett told OBG, “the food and beverage offering needs constant revision”.


For the mall operators all this activity translates into a satisfactory and sustainable bottom line in rental income. According to global real estate consultancy CBRE, average retail rental rates for Dubai stood at $374 per sq metre per annum against a figure for Abu Dhabi of $233. JLL’s Plumb told OBG rents for inline stores in the bigger malls were running at just under Dh5000 ($1361) per sq metre in the third quarter of 2013 (see graph).

It is very frequently as much in the mall operator’s interests that their retailers do good business as it is in the interests of the retailers themselves. Rental contracts may contain an entitlement by the mall operator to a percentage of turnover or profit, but in any event, food and beverage outlets – or indeed any mall units – that are poorly patronised can be a bad advertisement for the mall overall.

“I think there is a very healthy retail market here and the market can more than sustain its current level of rents,” Majid Al Futtaim’s Kostas told local press in December 2013. “As an owner I hope rents grow, but I also see that it is a balance. Our malls are successful only if retailers are successful so we have to keep that happening. We need to create thriving malls with a large footfall.”

Successful businesses inevitably create a demand for more mall space and the vacancy rates are correspondingly low. Majid Al Futtaim publishes vacancy rates but not Emaar, although figures for the two are probably very similar. Large anchors such as hypermarkets or cinemas inevitably make vacancies for inline units look small, and vacancy rates at the big malls run at around 5%, according to Plumb. The rate in secondary malls is expected to be around 10%, he added, while that in the older establishments could be up to 20%.

Consummer Spending

 If the big malls are full of shops, it follows those shops need to attract spending customers. Multi-faceted promotional campaigns, mainly centring around shopping festivals and the two Eid holidays, continue to drive sales to such a degree that in some segments a sizeable proportion of annual sales can be attributed to one or other of these events (see analysis). To give an indication of confidence levels, organisations such as the ICSC and the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres divide sales into three main categories – luxury at one end, value for money at the other and what are termed “bridge” brands in between.

According to David Macadam, chief executive and vice-chairman for the Middle East and North Africa region of ICSC, sales of bridge brands in the Eid following Ramadan in 2013 shot up by 53%. “It’s a huge amount year over year. And the luxury brands are making their own way. They were up by 30% to 35%,” he told the local press. However, the increases did not extend to value brands. “It is an indication that people are feeling more positive when they are buying more expensive brands,” Macadam added.


As a shopping centre, especially for luxury goods, Dubai’s status has been propelled over recent years to a position where CBRE ranks the city globally the second most important destination for international retailers after London. Ranking in its 2013 “How Global is the Business of Retail” report is based on a survey of 323 major international fashion retailers, of which 53.8% (174 retailers) said that they have outlets in Dubai.

The significance of the high-end segment was brought home by the latest edition of Worldwide Luxury Monitor produced by the consultancy Bain & Company. Its report said that Dubai accounts for 30% of the luxury market in the Middle East and 60% of that in the UAE as a whole. Dubai Mall is the venue for around half of luxury purchases made in Dubai, according to JLL. Bain forecast that worldwide revenues from the luxury goods market would grow by up to 50% more quickly than global GDP, reaching an annual average of 5-6% up to 2015.

“The Middle East is growing at a steady pace, with Dubai continuing as the centre of gravity … attracting foreign luxury consumers, such as Russians, Indians and Africans,” the report added.

According to the report, it is estimated that by 2025 the global luxury goods market would probably be more than five times larger than it was in 1995. The emirate’s reputation for luxury also makes Dubai a popular choice for global launches of top-of-the-range products. The Secret of Rochas, the house’s first signature luxury perfume since 1945, was unveiled at a gala dinner in the emirate and goes on sale in the Middle East from January 2014.

In addition, the world’s most expensive bottles of red wine were on display in the duty-free area of Dubai International Airport (DXB). Three of only six Chateau Margaux 2009 (12-litre) balthazars produced were offered at Le Clos for $395,000 each. Although a 1992 bottle of Screaming Eagle was also sold at an auction for $500,000, the Chateaux Margaux balthazars are thought to be the most expensive wines ever put on retail sale. The 2009 vintage received much hype as one of the best ever produced by the estate in the Bordeaux region of France.

In Dubai, a useful synergy occurs between firms that handle luxury imports and locations where they are sold. Plumb told OBG, “The relationship between brand owners and people who own floor space is interesting. Most of the rights to market high-end brands are in the hands of around eight families, who are therefore a powerful force in negotiating rates for floor space, and sometimes the same families own both the floor space and the brand rights.”


One of the new focuses in Dubai for 2014 and onwards is fashion, especially high-end fashion and the potential contribution to the entire market of Middle East designers. The DDD is intended to be an innovation centre for the global fashion industry and, by inviting in some of the world’s top names, an inspiration for Arab designers. It will be created next to the Business Bay area and operated by Tecom Investments, a member of Dubai Holding.

A Dubai government statement said major brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren would establish premises there. The UAE was the 11thbiggest importer of clothes of all kinds in 2012, according to the “International Trade Statistics 2013” report published by World Trade Organisation (WTO), with imports worth $4bn, 0.8%of the world total. The figure was 13% higher than in 2011.

Duty Free

 Sales at Dubai Duty Free (DDF), the world’s largest single-airport retailer, went up by 11.4% year-on-year in 2013 to Dh6.65bn ($1.81bn), according to a statement issued by DDF. Perfumes were the best seller with sales of Dh1.06bn ($288.5m), an increase of Dh148m ($40.2m) over the previous year, while gold increased by 5% to Dh613m ($166.8m). Electrical goods are also significant. DDF, which started in business on December 20, 1983, opened 2500 sq metres of retail space at the new Al Maktoum International Airport, which when fully operational should be the world’s biggest airport.

Looking ahead, Concourse D is the next phase of the expansion of DXB, offering DDF a further 7000 sq metres of retail space when it becomes operational. While the successful running of the shop floor operation is a major focus for DDF, it is highly committed to promoting Dubai through a series of high-level sporting events.


If the 20m visitor target is reached by 2020 – and there are more reasons to be optimistic about the figure than pessimistic – the knock-on effect for retail sales is potentially enormous. JLL’s Plumb told OBG, “The malls that are doing best are those based around the visitor offer. Dubai Mall and the MoE are the most patronised.”

Outside the GCC, he identified Russia, China and Korea as particularly important source markets. “The Russians are important and growing even more so,” he said. “Look at the number of people brought in from Russia by flydubai, for instance.” Alongside China, Korea is becoming more significant, he added. “To cater to the Chinese, Dragon Mart mall will be doubled in size and Meraas will develop another Chinese-oriented mall,” said Plumb, adding that Chinese-branded hotels would also round out the offer and feed into the retail market.

Majid Al Futtaim Properties CEO Kostas also recognised the need to better tailor the facilities according to countries of origin and changing consumer behaviour, not just the influx of visitors from China. “We will adjust the mix of retailing to match that shift, partly by upscaling hotels, looking at the food and beverage offer and what people want to do in the evening,” he told OBG.

DTCM figures also indicate a rise of 18% in visitors from the GCC in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, and Dubai is already a popular destination for visitors from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which both gave public sector workers 12 days off for Eid Al Fitr. Eid Al Adha later in the year was marked by 24-hour shopping for the first two days of the festival. Seven malls took part in the “Dubai 24 hours” initiative organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE). They were Dubai Mall, the MoE, Deira City Centre, Mirdif City Centre, Dubai Festival City Mall, Arabian Centre and Lamcy Plaza. Shopping times during the rest of the festival were extended until 2am.


Shopping events, allied either to public holidays or other dates, provide major boosts to the retail business. More than 4.3m people were involved in the 2013 Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and the organiser, DFRE, anticipates an increase of up to 10% for the 2014 event. DFRE has been targeting 17 countries, and although most of the visitors in January are likely to be from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the GCC region, the scope has been extended to include more European nations.

Traditionally the DSF was held later in the year but bringing it forward to coincide with the Russian Orthodox Christmas and Chinese New Year increases the possibility of attracting rising numbers of high spenders from those two countries. According to the DFRE, some retailers make 25-30% of annual revenues during the DSF alone. The 2014 festival has been organised in partnership with the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group (DGJG) which is giving away a kilogram of gold and a diamond solitaire ring for each of the event’s 32 days.

The DSF also provides a healthy income boost for the hospitality segment, especially those attached to malls. The Kempinski Hotel at the MoE is anticipating occupancy of around 90% throughout the shopping festival, up from 85% in the previous period, with room rates around 10% higher, starting at Dh1600 ($435.5) per night. Its two-bedroom ski chalet is going for Dh10,000 ($2722) per night on the opening weekend.

“Since we are directly connected to the mall, the DSF is an automatic advantage for us as shoppers want to stay as close as possible to the mall,” the hotel’s general manager, Konstantin Zeuke, told local press. The 4.3m people who attended the last DSF spent some $4bn during the month-long festival, according to DFRE, and Dubai’s winning of its 2020 Expo bid could have a big impact on its international retail representation as well as its visitor numbers, according to Laila Mohammed Suhail, DFRE’s CEO. When the DSF was launched in 1996, she said, there were only five major shopping centres. “Today there are 70 shopping malls and 40,000 outlets in malls and souks,” she told The National newspaper.

Easy Of Entry

 The UAE has leapfrogged South Korea, Chile and Malaysia, outranking countries for ease of entry for retailers. It went up four rungs to 11th of 48 countries in the annual league table compiled by consultancy EC Harris. The rank is based on infrastructure quality, construction supply chain, legal framework, quality of project delivery and business environment. The UAE’s infrastructure was rated 21% better than in 2012 with most factors that affected other categories being roughly the same.

The substantial increase was attributed mainly to improved logistics facilities in areas such as Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port and Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Industrial Zone. On the negative side, however, the UAE’s rating for project delivery declined by 15%, as some planned retail schemes remained postponed, even though others that were shelved are being revived.

Chris Seymour, the head of UAE property and social infrastructure at EC Harris, told local press that retailers considered the benefits of expanding into the UAE and the Middle East stemmed from a strong consumer base, high levels of wealth and an established construction industry. Qatar, ranked seventh in the world, was the highest-placed Arab country – a rise of four places after showing improved project-delivery capabilities. The UK topped the poll and Russia was last, behind Argentina, Nigeria and Pakistan. According to CBRE, 25 new retailers entered Dubai in 2013, including US firms Franklin & Marshall and The Cheesecake Factory. This put the city as the fourth-most attractive market for new entrant retailers, after Hong Kong, Kiev, and Berlin.


While real estate firms have cited location as the most important rules for residential property, slightly different rules apply to retail. “For very big malls, location is less important because people are prepared to travel significant distances for the overall offer,” said Plumb. “However, it is much more important for smaller ones, the convenience shopping centres, and car parking and access from the highway is just as important as location.”

He said one of the drawbacks of Ibn Battuta was that it was difficult to get in and out of. “Mirdif, on the other hand, is very easy to get in and out of in any direction,” he added. LALS CEO Ganwani had no doubt about the significance of geography. “In retail, location is number one,” he told OBG. “If a foreign franchisor decides to no longer supply a local franchisee, then the retailer will find a new arrangement and continue to benefit from a well-placed outlet.”

Smart Receipt

 The latest addition to the emirate’s hi-tech reputation will benefit the retail sector by eliminating some paperwork and speeding up the permit approval for special promotions. In an initiative announced by the Department of Economic Development (DED), “City Smart Receipt” was promoted as introducing “added convenience, accountability, transparency and reduced carbon footprint into retailing”. Under an agreement signed with San Francisco-based green technology firm retailGreen, the technology allows retailers to issue smart receipts – a digital record – to customers rather than paper or email receipts against purchases.

Sami Al Qamzi, the director-general of the DED, told local press, “Both retailers and consumers will benefit from the City Smart Receipt initiative. With the smart solution in place, DED will be able to issue permits for promotions online without retailers having to submit paper printouts. The real time digital record of purchases will also enable us to provide more accurate reports and assessments on consumer behaviour and business perceptions.”


As an emirate with ambitions to collect global records, Dubai had the world’s biggest display of fireworks during its 2014 New Year’s celebrations. Given its target of 20m visitors by 2020, and the added incentive of a winning bid to stage Expo 2020, it is not difficult to foresee a lot of new retail space, new entertainment facilities and thousands upon thousands of new hotel rooms to accommodate the expected millions of extra tourists.

It seems likely that the rest of the country will benefit from Dubai’s success in attracting extra visitors, especially for Expo 2020, because going alone could risk creating a retail and hotel bubble. As the resident population of Dubai expands there is likely to be a bigger concentration on community malls designed to serve only the local population, while adding into the mix non-retail services such as private schools, medical clinics, sports facilities and perpetual updating and expansion of dining facilities. The very big malls will get bigger and form the core of attractions for the “retail tourist” and will likely be supplemented by at least one new mega mall.

The idea of homemaker centres, as suggested by Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ CEO Kostas, may well be taken up although perhaps with an added service element rather than as straight retail establishments as they tend to be in the US and Europe.

Though the emirate was undoubtedly delighted with the acclamation of being named second only to London as the world’s most important home of international brands, Dubai will have top spot in its sights – especially if it can clear the final hurdle by 2020. The entrenchment of global branding and resultant potential is palpable in the retail sector.