Oman’s Al Raid Group has started work on building a $158.55 million (£127 million) shopping mall near Muscat, which will be a mini replica of Westfield mall in London’s Shepherd’s Bush, Arabian Business reports.
The two-level Al Araimi Boulevard will have English-style landscaping, water features, fountains and roads in a built-up area of 147,200 square metres (sqm), while the 70,500-sqm leasable space will include the “biggest food court, the largest glass atrium and the largest skylight – 5,190 sqm – to illuminate the shopping mall in the sultanate”.
The shopping mall will have a 50-foot high canopied glass entrance with over 210 retail units, a 6,000-sqm entertainment area with 10-screen cinema complex, and over 3,000 parking bays.
The development will feature a number of anchor stores strategically located throughout the mall, and visitors will be able to choose from a combination of the best high street and boutique brands on offer under one roof.
Construction started on the project last year and is slated for completion by September 2018. The project has been designed by Arab Engineering Bureau, while construction work is being carried on by Unique Contracting Company. Design International is the leasing agent.
CEO Sheikh Fahad Abdullah Al Araimi and his family are regular visitors to London and travel from their Knightsbridge residence to Shepherd’s Bush and Westfield to shop in the West London district, and is planning to recreate a slice of London transported to the Middle East.
“We strongly believe that spending quality time with family and friends is one of life’s great pleasures, and with this philosophy in mind we have created Al Araimi Boulevard as an exceptional lifestyle destination created to bring people together in enjoyment,” Al Araimi said.
According to AT Kearney’s Global Retail Index 2015, retail sales in Oman is expected to grow steadily at 6 percent per year up to 2020 due to growth in tourism which in turn shows demand for new shopping and leisure destinations.
At a recent round table discussion hosted by designMENA, architects spoke about the future of retail design and shopping malls in the Gulf region, commenting on how to turn shopping malls into an entertainment-orientated day out.
The panel also spoke about the importance of moving away from the large-scale shopping mall model to smaller, community-based retail spaces as well as addressing the importance of establishing context.