Dubai-based architects say traditional retail must be replaced by entertainment

Middle East Architect Roundtable - ACH taken on the 18th of April 2017 at the ITP Board Room, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, (Photo by Sharon Haridas /ITP Images)

How to turn a visit to a shopping mall into an entertainment-orientated day out was a major part of a discussion called “Beyond Retail” which was staged by Middle East Architect magazine.

Taking part were Patrick Bean, design director at Lacasa, Islam Mashtooly, senior architect at Perkins + Will, Tobias Honey, senior design manager at VE Experts and Joe Tabet, founder of JT+ Partners.

The discussion opened by asking the question: what makes people want to shop in an age when so many goods and services are available online?

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Honey said: “People are attracted to entertainment and food and beverage outlets. Traditional retail is not such a big deal with so many shopping malls being the same.

“People get drawn to a place which offers an experience. We [as designers] need to work with clients to educate them more on the entertainment spectrum.”

Bean said there was a cultural aspect to the attraction of people in the region to retail outlets.

“Historically people here are drawn to shopping malls,” he said. “The structure in the Middle East is a family day out.

“We have an opportunity to develop shopping areas into an entertainment zone. Some of the older malls are very boring. They use materials which are not that interesting. The fact is that here we have got the biggest indoor aquarium in the world and people do come to see it

“Things like this and the ski slope, they are what bring people into the malls.”

Looking to the future Mashtooly said: “Will it become a need to open ‘destination malls’. Personally some places I will just go to shop for a few minutes. But others I will go and spend time there because there is an attraction.”

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