The Muharraq Seef Mall, a BD20 million retail infrastructure, will focus on the people of Muharraq, the General Manager of Seef Properties, Bahrain, Robert Addison, said. “The preference for local population has meant that the international high-end brands will not make it here,” he said. The mall when completed and fully occupied will have 132 shops and employ 600 people directly. The overall employment, he said, would have a sharp local colour, with Muharraqis getting preference, the general manager said. “I m already talking with the shop owners to ascertain the number of Muharraq residents employed by them,” he added.
In the mall administration of about 30 people, there sure is three to four people from Muharraq employed, he said.
Seef Properties has to expand as part of its five-year plan and when the venues for expansion were looked into, Muharraq came as the best option, since the old city did not have a mall of the size that Seef is, he said. In addition to the shops, the mall will also have 14 cinemas, of which one will be a VIP cinema. Elaborating on the VIP concept, he said, that the seats will be better and not touching the other.
In addition to the people of Muharraq, there are residents of Amwaj Island, who are expected to visit the cinemas during the weekend, he added. “We are also in negotiations with Moevenpick Hotel to run shuttle services from their hotel to the mall, so that clients there can shop with us,” he added.
Turning to the strategy for neighbourhood engagement in the mall, the general manager told BNA, “During the Eid and Ramadhan we will have 10 to 15 kiosks on the periphery so that the locals can use it as a retail sales centre. The presence of the Arad Fort, which will see many events including international acts, will bring people to us,” he added.
On how Seef plans to benefit the local population financially, he said: “We will follow the same process as in the Seef Mall, with 10 per cent of the profits going to the locals. There will also be a Showaiter sweets stall and an abaya unit.”
The Muharraq mall will be different from the Seef property, in that while the shoppers there are more liberal, the shoppers at Muharraq are more traditional and conservative. One can see more women in the traditional local attire in Muharraq, Addision said.
The large underbelly of the mall will take care of the parking, he said.
“However, should the need arise the customers can also use the parking facilities near the Arad Fort as well as the Arad Fort walkway. We plan to be a part of the local culture and their traditional festivals to grow our customer base,” he added.