Dubai’s Wafi mall is to undergo a multi-million dollar refurb this year, as it strives to keep pace with the emirate’s ever-changing retail market.
Owners of the shopping complex said they will add a traditional food court as well as an entertainment area with an 8,000 sq ft mini golf centre, in the hopes of attracting more tenants and increasing the number of visitors.
The redevelopment will be completed in two phases by the end of the year, they said, and will also involve adding a new Café Court for fine dining.
"In the first phase of the development programme scheduled for completion at the end of this year, we are investing heavily in the creation of a new traditional food court,” Wafi Mall's group marketing and property director Richard Billington said.
“This will act as a mini anchor and as part of the redesign; it will drive people into what is presently a quiet area of the mall.
"We recognize that we cannot compete with the likes of mega malls such as The Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates, but at the same time, we know that not everyone enjoys the 'mega' experience, and we will fill that void.”
Other changes will include the modernisation of areas such as alleyways, which were part of the original design nearly 20 years ago.
The plan is to open up the mall and create brighter areas, while enhancing the pedestrian traffic flow.
A final redevelopment phase will also begin next year for completion at the end of 2013, to enhance the existing retail mix.
Wafi is among a long list of Dubai-based shopping centres to announce plans for a revamp in the last six months as mall owners seek to refresh their offerings and boost footfall to their malls.
Expert say the emirate, which has added more than one million sq m of shopping space since 2006 and is now home to around 40 malls, is in danger of evolving into a two-tier market as competition for visitors and tenants heats up.
The developers of Dubai Festival City said in February that they would add more entertainment aspects and a mix of new retail brands to the waterfront centre, in a bid enhance sections of the mall with low occupancy rates.
“The mall is about five years old, it needs a refresh,” Al Futtaim’s group director of real estate Vishesh Bhatia told Arabian Business at the time.
“It will probably take us 24 months before we finish the whole thing. Part of our mall is less occupied than it should be, so we’re also talking to some new retailers to see if they would be interested to come here.”
Deira City Centre has also invested heavily in refurbishment, adding a bridge link with around 20 shops and a Fitness First gym in 2011.
Peter Walichnowski, Majid Al Futtaim’s property director, said the mall would be continuing with its refurbishment programme in 2012.
“During 2011 we made significant investment in Deira City Centre. We’re upgrading the metro entry some time this year, we’re refurbishing the food area called City Walk, and we’re always investing in Deira City Centre in terms of bringing new brands.
“We’re also going to be rebranding the mall in terms of changing the outside and putting more lights in. So we do keep our assets up to date in that respect.”