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Mall or nothing

Mall or nothing

While vacancy rates at Dubai’s shopping malls have reached their highest ever level, Abu Dhabi ploughs on with plans to build several malls—are we headed for a disasterous déjà vu?

January 30, 2011 5:44 by

The real impact of the global downturn took a while to show itself in Dubai; while the rest of the world was complaining about unemployment, companies going bust, and banks going bankrupt, we here in Sunny Dubai were in a state of denial. At least, we were until the Dubai World bomb was dropped on us a year after recession struck the rest of the world.

But, being gluttons for misery, before we even knew of those disastrous debt problems we really had, people in Dubai were eagerly looking around town for signs that the recession had reached us. A good day on the roads? Recession! Everyone has left the country and now it is easy to get through traffic. Hailing a taxi in ten minutes? Recession! Late 2008, Kipp even once spoke to a toilet cleaner who convinced us there aren’t as many people using toilets as a result of the recession.

But three years on, and who knows how many redundancies later, it seems those in Dubai shouldn’t have been so impatient to see the downturn signs. There is now plenty to be seen, and though it is hard to pick our favorite symbol of the current gloomy economic times, one of the worst effects can be seen in malls. At first there were ridiculous sales on for extended periods of time, then there just weren’t any people in the shops, and now, it would seem there just aren’t as many shops in the malls.

According to the latest study from property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle, vacancy rates in Dubai’s shopping malls are at their highest level in recent years. How high you ask? Though the average vacancy rates lie at a reasonable 5 to 10 percent, current rates are up to a whopping 30 percent.

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  1. Suzie Fitzsimons on January 31, 2011 4:14 pm

    So where are all those Corporate Know all Gurus now who gaffed at the idea we might be heading for an over saturation mark ! The very people who were advocating expansion with their special knowledge and huge pay pockets seem to have gone gone gone ! shame nobody actually listened to the retailers. !

  2. Andrew on February 1, 2011 7:33 am

    Well as long as it thins out the masses at the existing malls, I’m all for it. After all over-saturation just drives down rents, which in itself allows for a more varied selection of shops – not just the identikit international brands usually seen.

    All of this news might be bad for businesses and their investors, but it’s a coup for customers.


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