The Gulf’s largest shopping mall developer, Dubai-based Majid al-Futtaim (MAF) Group, plans to increase its retail space portfolio fivefold over five years, to 2.5 million square metres.

“We plan to add 2 million sq m of retail space over the next five years,” says Shahram Shamsaee, senior vice-president for asset management and leasing at the group’s subsidiary, MAF Shopping Malls.

The plans, many of which are still in the early stages, include up to 30 projects, and will involve the construction of malls and expansion of existing assets across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

The projects will cover the construction of four types of shopping mall, classified as neighbourhood, community, regional and super-regional centres.

The most advanced projects are Mirdif City Centre in Dubai, Bahrain City Centre and Al-Qurum in Oman, all of which are under construction. Bahrain City Centre is due to open in September and will be the second-largest mall in the GCC region, after MAF’s Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.

In the UAE, malls are being considered in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, together with expansions to Ajman City Centre and Mall of the Emirates.

“We have experienced a phenomenal 2007,” says Shamsaee. “We have had double-digit growth in footfall, and there is demand for space in all of our operational assets. So it is only natural that we will look at expansion.”

In Saudi Arabia, the company is exploring opportunities in all major cities and has already launched the SR1.1bn ($300m) Riviera Mall project in Jeddah, which will cover more than 100,000 sq m and house more than 300 shops.

TABLE: Selected MAF shopping mall projects

UAE Deira City Centre redevelopment Complete
UAE Mirdif City Centre Under construction
UAE Ajman City Centre Preparing to tender
UAE Dubailand Mall Considering plans
UAE Mall of Emirates expansion Considering plans
UAE Sharjah City Centre expansion Considering plans
UAE Sharjah Considering plans
UAE Abu Dhabi Considering plans
Bahrain Bahrain City Centre Under construction
Bahrain Isa Town Considering plans
Oman Muscat City Centre Complete
Oman Al-Qurum Under construction
Oman Mall of Oman Considering plans
Egypt Maadi City Centre expansion Complete
Egypt Al-Maza City Centre Considering plans
Egypt Nasr City Centre Considering plans
Egypt Nozha City Centre Considering plans
Egypt 6 October City Preparing plans
Egypt Alexandria expansion Preparing to tender
Saudi Arabia Riveria Preparing plans
Saudi Arabia Riyadh Considering plans
Syria New mall Considering plans
Yemen Two malls in Aden Considering plans

Source: MAF Shopping Malls