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“We won’t interfere with retailers…we trust them”- MAFP

Majid Al Futtaim's Fuad Sharaf says the mall operator will not get involved with ensuring retailers compensate staff for the overtime during the upcoming 24 hour long weekend.

October 16, 2012 11:29 by

Two weeks ago, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced plans to keep major retail outlets and malls open around the clock for three weekends on either side of the upcoming Eid. While the move has been seen as an opportunity for increased sales particular from GCC visitors over the break, there have been concerns as to whether staff will be compensated for their overtime.

Speaking to Kipp, Majid Al Futtaim’s Senior Director of Asset Management of Shopping Malls Fuad Sharaf said while the mall operator will not interfere with retailers’ compensation packages, he is confident retailers will abide by Dubai’s labour laws: “We will not interfere with the retailers… but I am certain they will provide adequate compensation and abide by Dubai labour law. Of course, we will provide compensation for those members of the customer service team who are working over time.”

As Majid Al Futtaim currently hires support staff including maintenance, cleaners and security guards, to be present in its malls around the clock, Sharaf says Majid Al Futtaim will not be hiring more people for the upcoming weekend: “This will be our first weekend so we will have to wait for a bit so we can get the impressions and feedback, but Majid Al Futtaim Properties has been in the business long enough and I feel confident that the number we currently have will be more than sufficient for support.”

For the first time ever, the ‘Eid in Dubai’ promotion will continue for three weekends with malls being open from 10 in the morning on Thursday till 1 in the morning on Sunday.  The increased working hours provide quite a challenge for mall operators and retailers but Sharaf says he wasn’t alarmed by the announcement: “When you live in Dubai you can never get surprised, in fact you should always expect a surprise. Working for as long as we have, we are always ready which is why we fully support this initiative.”

“I am certain that any initiative announced from the government has been studied well. It is a government initiative and I know the effort and pride the government takes in its projects which are always positive.”

With the weekend just around the corner, it remains to be seen just how popular and profitable having malls open around the clock will be for both mall operators and retailers. Yet whatever the outcome, the festival indicates a growing trend in the Emirates towards keeping establishments open for longer. Currently some fast food outlets and supermarkets are open 24 hours a day, with others advertising longer working hours during the weekend—but it is rare for retailers outside the F&B sector offering such comprehensive working hours. Regardless of the outcome, the festival has highlighted the need for a developed framework to ensure retailers honour the dictates of Dubai’s labour law concerning compensation for overtime during the ungodly hours of the early morning.

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