Building a next-generation destination

Rupkatha Bhowmick

A super-regional, next-generation, integrated destination is underway in Dubai. It will emerge as that ‘place for everyone’ once complete during the first quarter of 2020. We are talking about Meydan One Mall, part of Meydan Group. Some of the striking features of Meydan One Mall includes 650 retail outlets, 180 restaurants with indoor and al fresco dining, an imposing retractable skylight, a 301,390 sqft experience zone, a 21-screen cinema, a 380-metre long interactive dancing fountain, an indoor ski slope with a winter village and a Crystal Lagoon with a 300-metre long sandy beach, to name a few.

Building such a next-generation destination, which is inspiring and exciting requires tremendous hard work and a forward-looking outlook. No wonder, the project is being steered by Fahad Kazim, vice president of Meydan Malls, who is extremely passionate about and credited for creating unique destinations, which benefit the communities and the stakeholders involved.

In an exclusive interview with RetailME, Kazim talks about not only building Meydan One Mall but also the changing dynamics of retail requiring every stakeholder – landlord, tenant and the consumer – to communicate effectively.

“Meydan One’s focus is on creating the next generation of an integrated community. Today we call it a ‘mall’ owing to the lack of better description. Retail is essential for the kind of destination we are working to create, but it will go much beyond retail. The idea is to create an exciting mix. It requires integration of retail with our F&B offerings, further integrating these components with our entertainment offerings. How best we can cater to the resident and tourist markets is a crucial consideration. And when we speak about these two markets, we are referring to a large number of nationalities with different expectations, age brackets and demographics,” Kazim states.

“To ensure all the above is a somewhat complicated task. We decided to, thus, focus on the basic needs of each category to put in place an effective approach. The first step was to identify three main stakeholders of the project – visitors, retailers and mall management. While visitor needs are different, retailers’ needs based on the size and nature of business are equally variegated. Finally, the mall management also has their set of requirements to operate the asset in the best manner, while passing on the benefits to the two other stakeholders,” he continues.

Commenting on the changing dynamics of the tenant-landlord relationship, Kazim explains, “The dynamics of the tenant-landlord relationship used to be quite different. There used to be a certain measure of communication gap. To bridge that gap, at Meydan One we decided to take the first step to deliver our promise and play our part well to offer comfort to the other party, so they extend their hand as well and meet us halfway during this journey. Some can turn the page faster than the others. For us, it is a long-term commitment, and we are sure that every stakeholder involved with our project will see the benefits in the long run. There is a need for education on the part of both landlords and tenants. We have to share critical insights with tenants on footfall within specific zones and demographics coming to the mall. In turn, they too will have to share valuable information with us. If we both can take the correct measures, we will see commercial benefits. But that’s not the starting point; it is the result of building a robust and trustworthy relationship. The relationship is changing for the better.”

Read the full article published under ‘Retail Thoughts’ in our Year-end 2018 edition