According to IIR Middle East, the organiser of Retail City, current GCC retail space will treble to more than 15 million square metres by 2016, as the burgeoning tourism industry and regional population growth spurs the longer term prospects for the GCC’s retail industry. The region’s leading international retail real estate event, which takes place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC) from 3 – 5 June 2007, is also witnessing exponential growth in line with industry sentiment.
Naomi Koningen, Project Manager, Retail City 2007 commented, “We have experienced 350 per cent year-on-year growth, mirroring the pace of regional retail real estate development. International industry professionals are eager to participate in what is now clearly recognised as a rapidly expanding and sustainable market.”
In a recent survey report by Retail International, 5.3 million square metres of retail floor space is already available and the retail sector is estimated to be worth US$ 100 billion annually. Currently the four main drivers behind this retail phenomenon are the cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah. Dubai remains at the core of this development hosting 1.3 million square metres, withAbu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah each having between 750,000 and 800,000 square metres.
This is set to double in just a few short years with a further 4.6 million square metres of gross leasable area (GLA) currently under construction. Dubai Festival City, Dubai Mall and Mall of Arabia will add some 1.2 million square metres alone. Elsewhere in the region, another 750,000 square metres will be added through developments in Doha at Le Villaggio and The Pearl-Qatar, in Kuwait with the Mall of Kuwait, Al Shobily Grand Mall in Khobar, Saudi Arabia and the new Bahrain City Centre project in Manama.
The justification behind this extraordinary acceleration in retail development is two-fold. Firstly, the numbers of tourists visiting the region is estimated by the World Tourism Organisation to reach 68 million by 2020. Again Dubai has taken the lead with five million visitors in 2005, which will climb to 15 million tourists by 2010.
Secondly, the population throughout the GCC countries is currently estimated to be 36 million and with the average annual projected population growth set at 3 per cent (World Development Indicators 2005). Therefore the region’s population should increase to over 50 million (up 40 per cent) by 2015; Riyadh’s population alone will treble to over 15 million inhabitants.
Retail City 2007 comprises an exhibition with a parallel three-day networking conference. The exhibition aims to bring together international retail property professionals to develop new joint ventures, exchange views, identify new investment opportunities and encourage retailers and franchises to set up shop in the Middle East. In tandem with the exhibition, the Retail City will examine key insights into successful retail developments, reveal the untapped potential for retail real estate development and investment in the Middle East, determine how to remain successful in a relentlessly competitive retail industry and explore the latest retail trends.
The show will also feature the prestigious Retail City Awards, which recognise excellence and innovation throughout the industry, acknowledging outstanding achievements. The awards will be presented during a glittering gala dinner.
This year’s event is being supported by Dubai Properties, Dheeraj & East Coast LLC, Saraya Aqaba and Mohammed Al-Habib Real Estate Co. as platinum sponsors. Grand Optics and Egypt-based SODIC have been confirmed as silver sponsors and the awards are being sponsored by Mall of Arabia. Aldar Properties have also confirmed their support.