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Dh1 billion Mall of the Emirates extension opens

DUBAI // Luxury is what comes to mind when a person walks through Mall of the Emirates’ new extension, which includes several brands new to the region and the Middle East’s first and only IMAX with a laser screen.

Mall owner, the Majid Al Futtaim group, unveiled the Dh1 billion Evolution 2015 on Monday after 18 months and 15 million man hours going into building two domes, three glass barrel roof lights, nine bridges and three escalators to connect the extension to the existing mall.

The new area, which is the size of eight football fields, has space for 40 retail outlets. Brands entering the Middle East’s retail landscape include AllSaints, Lululemon Athletica and, later this year, Abercrombie & Fitch.

Michael Cesarz, chief executive of shopping malls at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, said the latest expansion was a milestone for the company in the face of changing customer needs.

“We are not looking at our competitors. We just have to make sure that our product is the best we can offer,” he said. “Do we have more space to expand in our environment? Do we have better ideas than what we have [implemented] now? These are our limitations; our limitations are not looking at what our competitors are doing.

“We have to focus on ourselves and what we can do and base it on our consumer experience, and I don’t think anybody does it better than us.”

Mr Cesarz said that Mall of the Emirates was a project that would never be “done”, but would continue to develop to meet customer needs.

“What you see now comes out of the consumer experience of the last years, but what you see right now is not what you’ll see in 10 years,” he said.

Part of Evolution 2015 is the completely revamped 24-screen Vox Cinema, which includes the IMAX with laser, a 4DX auditorium, two Vox kids’ cinemas and a luxury cinema called Theatre by Rhodes, which offers food prepared by Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes.

On its website, IMAX described its laser screen as “a quantum leap in cinema technology – providing audiences with the sharpest, brightest, clearest and most vivid digital images ever, combined with a whole new level of immersive audio”.

Andrew Cripps, IMAX’s president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said that Dubai, and particularly Mall of the Emirates, was the ideal place to install the laser screen in the region.

“This is one of the most beautiful shopping centres in the world.

“There is a young demographic here in Dubai, a large segment of the population is under 25 and go to the movies regularly,” he said.

“What we found with IMAX is that people would travel long distances to go see something in the best possible circumstances, so they travel by other malls to get somewhere where there is an IMAX, and that is why the IMAX model works.

“Once they experience it, they’ll come back, and with a shopping mall like this, I think it’s going to do very well.”

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(via The National)