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4 of UAE’s biggest projects that will boost consumer spending

Dubai: In a country where shopping is a favourite pastime for residents with high disposable incomes, there is no shortage of malls, shopping centres and boutiques.

Every so often, a new development is being announced, be it a mega shopping complex on a man-made island or a series of retail shops to complement another larger-than-life landmark.

Between  2017 and 2020 alone, at least four mega developments that are currently under construction in the UAE are scheduled for completion, and they are expected to deliver more than 3,000 shops.

The developments include malls, as well as leisure and recreation facilities, that cost as much as $1.8 billion (Dh6.6 billion) to build. And all of these projects have one goal in common: to cash in on the spending power of UAE residents and visitors.

In 2016, shopping malls in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the emirates, attracted more visitors than ever, with footfall numbers posting a 5.8 per cent increase, thanks mainly to the huge influx of tourists, shopping promotions and events, and a tax-free regime.

Retailers in the UAE generated more than $50 billion in revenues in 2016 and, as consumers are expected to continue opening their wallets, sales will rise further over the next few years.

According to an analysis by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sales turnover is projected to surpass $71 billion by 2021, up from $56.6 billion at the end of 2016.

“Demand within the UAE’s retail sector remained steady [in 2016], supported by a 5.8 per cent year-on-year increase in footfall within shopping malls. This trend was supported by a rise in the number of tourists, the absence of sales tax, in addition to the expansion of sales events, promotions and shopping festivals,” the chamber said in a report.

BNC Construction Intelligence, which issued a report on Monday for the Big 5 event in Dubai, has identified four more UAE projects that are currently underway and may further boost spending numbers.

Deira Islands Mall – Deira Island

Project type:  Retail facilities
Project value:  USD 1.8 billion
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date:  December, 2020
City/country:  Dubai, UAE
Developer : Nakheel
Highlights:  The project is a three-storey shopping mall with 620,000 square metres of retail, dining and entertainment space at Deira Islands. Its 2.9 million square feet of gross leasable area can accommodate 3,000 shops.

Dubai Eye – Bluewaters Island Development

Project type: Leisure and recreation facilities
Project value: USD 272 million
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date: October, 2017
City/country: Dubai, UAE
Developer :  Meraas Holding
Highlights:  While it’s not a giant shopping complex per se, the development will include the construction of retail spaces, as well as residential, entertainment and hospitality offerings on an artificial island with a 210-metre Ferris wheel as a centrepiece.

Abu Dhabi Mall – Al Maryah Central

Project type: Retail facilities
Project value: USD 1 billion
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date: December, 2018
City/country: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Developer : Gulf Related
Highlights:  The project includes the construction of a 2.3 million-square-foot shopping centre, which will offer 400 retail stores, a food market, 145 cafes and restaurants and a premier health club.

Silicon Park – Dubai Silicon Oasis

Project Type: Mega urban development
Project value: USD 354 million
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date: December, 2018
City/country: Dubai, UAE
Developer : Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority
Highlights: The project includes the construction of a shopping centre, 25,000 square metres of commercial space, a 115-room business hotel and underground parking for more than 2,500 cars. These facilities will be within a new integrated smart city at Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Emirates NBD debuts FaceBanking on online platform

Emirates NBD, a leading banking group in the region, today launched FaceBanking, a first-to-market service that will offer the bank’s customers instant video and live chat with advisors on its revamped online banking platform as well on the mobile banking app.

FaceBanking is a significant addition to Emirates NBD’s growing portfolio of digital banking innovations, all designed to create a customer-first banking experience via seamless solutions that match customers’ lifestyles and needs, the bank said.

The new service empowers customers to instantly connect with a personal banking advisor for queries and transactions by simply clicking a button on Emirates NBD’s enhanced online banking platform, thus effectively bringing in human interaction to digital banking, a first for the region’s banking industry.

FaceBanking is available 24 x 7 and offers customers the option of chatting with a bank representative with priority and private banking customers also able to initiate a video call.

The initiative forms part of the banking group’s Dh1 billion ($272 million) commitment towards digitalization and multichannel transformation of its processes, products and services over the next three years, it said.

With a newly designed user friendly interface and customer centric approach, the new platform includes a diverse range of features, allowing users to personalise their profiles with images and links to their social media, create nicknames for accounts and cards for simpler and speedier transactions as well as input personal savings goals.

Based on individual data, the new website will offer customers smart insights on their money and recommendations tailored to their lifestyles as well as assist in creating realistic savings targets, understand their net worth based on assets and liabilities and provide them with a curated, customised feed of new offers via the Digital Store, it said.

Suvo Sarkar, senior executive vice president and group head – Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates NBD, highlighted features of the new online banking platform, saying: “Moving from a transactional to a social experience, our new online platform truly delivers on Emirates NBD’s promise of providing digital banking with a human touch. Be it a query on an account or a loan discussion, customers can chat with a Personal Banking Advisor from anywhere with the click of a button via FaceBanking. The goals dashboard is innovative in its approach to helping customers manage their finances, and providing meaningful insights on their spending habits. Every new feature added in this portal goes one step ahead in delivering a seamless, user-friendly banking experience and helping our customers fulfil their dreams, and live their life to the fullest.” – TradeArabia News Service

Source: GDN Online

UAE climbs up in global digital government rankings

The UAE has moved up from 40th to 34th in ranking for its use of information and communication technology to improve the quality of services provided by the digital government, a study by the Waseda University Institute of e-Government revealed.

The survey was conducted by specialists from Tokyo-based Waseda University and 10 world-class universities under International Academy of CIO (IAC) in the field.
According to the 2017 Waseda- IAC International e-Government ranking survey — which evaluated 10 core indicators and 35 sub-indicators over almost a year — UAE is ranked ninth in digital government promotion and seventh in e-participation.
The 2017 ranking survey marks Singapore staying at first place, followed by Denmark in second, the US in third, Japan in fourth, Estonia in fifth, Canada in sixth, New Zealand in seventh, South Korea in eighth, UK in ninth, and Taiwan ranked tenth.

Professor Toshio Obi, director of Institute of Digital Government and President, International Academy of CIO, said that the UAE D-Government believes in the importance of e-participation and enabling its customers to take part in the decision-making process.
“The government portal clearly encourages citizens and customers to participate in government decision making process including policies and initiatives. The ‘Contact Government’ section in the portal is dedicated by providing many important tools, including web 2.0 tools and online direct communication with the customer,” he said in the report.

Moreover, he said that the UAE Government has launched its new federal portal, redesigned to offer many e-participation channels, include advanced practices such as Open Data, and be a better-unified gateway to access many online services provided by the UAE Government.
Among the Arab countries, Bahrain is ranked second in the Arab World and 41st globally, followed by Oman in third rank on the Arab level, and 43rd globally, Saudi Arabia ranked fourth on the Arab level and 46th globally.
“The efforts of various government entities in the field of e-participation have succeeded in attracting the attention of residents, and the UAE has been ranked seventh, as well as the efforts to spread the culture of smart transformation and promotion of services, where the UAE has been ranked ninth,” Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, Director General of TRA UAE, told Gulf News.
This indicates the spirit of work and dedication of all government entities to enhance the use, satisfaction and quality of various services and policies in the government, he added.

Obi said that the next phase for the UAE — which is seeking to establish itself as smart government leader in the region — will be to win users over to the latest apps and building m-government to help citizens have a better channel to apply for their services.
“The future is going to be about interconnecting government to government, and more collaboration with the government to citizen side. The UAE is investing heavily in adopting and implementing ICT in its government and private sectors,” he said.

Source: GulfNews

Palm Jumeirah’s Atlantis hotel to undergo $100m revamp by 2017

One of Dubai’s most famous hotels, the Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah, is about to spend $100 million “or even more” on renovations, a senior executive at the resort has said.

Serge Zaalof, president and managing director of Atlantis, told Arabian Business that the revamp will include a full renovation of the hotel’s rooms, as well as the launch of a new “family and children activity project” of 2,200 square meters within the existing Atlantis site.

The hotel is currently in the mock-up stages to finalize the new room designs, which are being upgraded eight years after the Atlantis opened.

In 2014, Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), which has a 46 percent stake in the Atlantis hotel’s owner, Kerzner International, unveiled plans for a second branded hotel on the Palm Jumeirah.

The 800-room $1.4 billion Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences will be sited close to the existing Atlantis hotel, and is expected to take two years to complete.

Master developer Nakheel has already signed building contracts with Ssanyong Engineering & Construction, China State Construction Engineering Corporation and Six Construct.

In February this year, Bloomberg reported that ICD was seeking a $700 million, 10-year loan to fund the construction of the second Atlantis resort.

Source: Arabian News

World’s largest indoor theme park set to open in Dubai

Most 12-year-olds are going to love Dubai’s latest attraction – the world’s largest indoor theme park. IMG Worlds of Adventure is not just for 12-year-olds, however. Anyone game for an adrenalin boost is in for a treat. It’s the parents who might have a tough time though. a family of four can easily be down Dh1500, if you take in food and drink and booking lockers and memorabilia and buying the kids what they want to avoid creating a scene.

We loved the Haunted Hotel in IMG Boulevard the most. The look and feel of the place is movie-like authentic. You have the hunchbacked bellboys in uniform, jerky elevators, dim fluctuating lights, ghoulsh noises, dangling corpses. we won’t reveal much more, but you get the idea.

And the Haunted Hotel is just one of the many highlights.

IMG Worlds of Adventure is divided into four segments or zones, and the idea is, as CEO Lennard Otto told us, for the family to spend a good 6-8 hours at the park.

Interesting fact: 28 food and beverage outlets at the park (there’s churros), 25 retail stores with 5,000 product lines, and they can host 30,000 people a day. IMG has four major brands under one group including Marvel and Cartoon Network, and they’re projecting a first-year footfall of around 4.5 million guests.

Attractions you can expect:

  • Thrill and kiddie rides galore
  • 28 food and beverage outlets
  • 25 retail outlets
  • 12-screen Novo Cinema multiplex (with IMAX screen, 2 VIP theatres)

THRILLS AND SPILLS @ FOUR ZONES

THE MARVEL ZONE

Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye – they’re all here. The 350,000 square feet MARVEL zone will offer a bunch of MARVEL superhero experiences including the This highly immersive, action-packed ‘Avengers: Battle of Ultron’ ride – the first ‘dark’ Avengers ride in the world – and a 3D multimedia experience.

Hulk Epsilon Base 3D: Innovative, 100-seater ride system featuring Hulk as he battles against his deadliest foe, The Leader. Combo of 360-degree projection screens and virtually propels guests through an immersive battle experience.

Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge: 400-metre spinning coaster propels guests through the New York skyline with Marvel’s famous web-slinger Spider-Man, fighting to save the city from the sinister Doctor Octopus.

Thor Thunder Spin: Dizzying top-spin experience pins guests to their seat as Thor, the Mighty Avenger, attempts to rescue them from the clutches of Loki, God of Mischief.

Avengers Flight of the Quinjets: Suitable for all ages and allows guests to take control of their own two-seater pod.

IMG BOULEVARD ZONE

Like the foyer of the park. You enter here and you’re just getting started. It covers 200,000 square feet and the highlight is The Haunted Hotel, which is great fun, and probably our favourite. Kids will love it, and be spooked, too. Also, there’s the IMG Boulevard, with F&B offerings, retail shops, or a place to simply sit back and enjoy the ambient street entertainers and performers.

CARTOON NETWORK

The Cartoon Network zone: spans 2,30,000 square feet and will feature exclusive attractions including the first ever Ben 10 5D cinema, which will host up to 1,200 visitors an hour with a 10 minute 3D movie. Alongside the world’s largest Ben 10 retail store, the zone will incorporate brands like LazyTown, Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls and The Amazing World of Gumball.

Romp along with The Powerpuff Girls, and take a scenic The Ride of OOO with Finn & Jake, or visit the Amazing Ride of Gumball, where Gumball and Darwin’s school science project has gone out of control.

Plus, a LazyTown Playground with a challenging rope ladder adventure, and Live Stage Show performances.

THE LOST VALLEY: DINOSAUR ADVENTURE

The Lost Valley zone: This one’s all about dinosaurs, or as they tell you “over 69 state-of-the-art animatronic dinosaurs”. One especially large fellow has a motor in his neck and a range of three movements – turns neck, looks up down, and clenches and de-clenches jaw. Even if you’re not one for the rides, it’s a cool place to amble about in. There’s a pretzels and churros cart. This dino zone also spans 700,000 square feet, including the external coaster ‘The Velociraptor’, which propels guests to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds on a 1.1 km rollercoaster, the tallest and fastest in Dubai, launching them from prehistoric jungles of the Lost Valley out into the Dubai desert and back. Then there’s the Forbidden Territory deep jungle safari ride through prehistoric dinosaurs; Predator, the sharpest drop track in the region featuring a ‘beyond-vertical’ plummet to Earth; Dino Carousel, more for the kiddies; and Adventure Fortress, an active adventure playground.

MG Worlds of Adventure fun facts

  • World’s largest indoor theme park spread over 1.5 million square feet
  • Open throughout the year, can host 30,000 visitors per day
  • Projected: 4.5 million visitors in first year
  • Entry: Dh300 for adults and Dh250 for children
  • Owned by the Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group
  • Opens August 31, 2016

Source: Khaleej Times

Al Habtoor says to relaunch Metropolitan Hotel Dubai by end-2016

The Metropolitan Hotel Dubai, one of the emirate’s first, is set to re-open its doors in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The original Metropolitan Hotel, which was built in 1979, was demolished in May 2013 to make way for Al Habtoor City, a landmark development incorporating three five-star hotels, three luxury residential towers along the upcoming Dubai Water Canal.

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman, Al Habtoor Group said: “We look forward to welcoming our first guests. When we demolished The Metropolitan Hotel I promised our loyal customers that I would rebuild the hotel. Three years on I have fulfilled that promise, and we look forward to receiving both new and old customers to the premises.”

The Metropolitan Hotel Dubai will reopen in a new location on Sheikh Zayed Road near Exit 41 ande the four-star property will feature 320 rooms including 18 suites.

Facilities will include a gym, a rooftop swimming pool and spa while guests will also have access to the pool and beach facilities at Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection a short drive away.

The hotel will see the return of old favourites The Red Lion, a traditional English pub, and Don Corleone, an Italian eatery. It will also be home to Al Safa, an all-day dining concept, Al Sheif Shisha Lounge serving Arabic cuisine, and Tropicana, a pool bar.

Sanjay Luthra, general manager of the Metropolitan Hotel said: “The revival of the hotel and some of the outlets will contribute to its success… It is not just a hotel; it is a home away from home.”

Source: Arabian Business

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