Mall to be centrepiece of Zayed Sports City project

Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure (Mubadala) will look to begin talks with mall operators and investors interested in bringing forward a new 316,918 square metre mall next to the 43,000-capacity Zayed Sports City stadium by the end of this year.

The mall will form the centrepiece of the revamped Arzanah development unveiled by Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure at Cityscape Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. It will comprise more than 1.9 million sq m of built-up space around the existing football and tennis stadiums that will eventually be home to more than 30,000 people.

Ali Eid AlMheiri, the executive director of Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure, said the master plan unveiled was a “concept of how we believe the site could be developed in the future”, but is based around promoting an active lifestyle for families.

Residential buildings, for instance, could feature rooftop tennis courts and pools and there will be football pitches spread across the site. Mubadala Real Estate will be the site’s master developer and will service the plots, which it then plans to offer to third-party developers.

The new mall will be the first element to be brought forward.

“Once the concept is approved by all of the authorities then we will be marketing the plot to well-known mall operators/investors – the usual players in the UAE. We’ll get into discussions with them, see who’s interested in buying it and on the best commercial terms,” said Mr AlMheiri.

“We’re probably looking at some time towards the year- end. After that, once you reach the commercial agreement with them, then the clock ticks.”

He said potential investors and developers would largely decide on what went in the new mall (where a connected hotel is also proposed), but added that it is expecting the mall operator will incorporate an ice rink and bowling alley to replace existing facilities on site that will make way for the Arzanah project.

The bulk of the remaining site will be made up of residential plots, although there is space for a couple of office buildings. However, Mr AlMheiri said Mubadala was conscious of current market conditions and would not “flood the market” with new plots.

“We will be servicing the plots and selling to third parties to do those developments. And the third party will not come to do the plot unless the market is there to develop. So we are both aligned.”

He argued that there would be more interest in the mall, however, despite several major new mall projects now under way in Abu Dhabi, because most of these are on the eastern side of the island, while this is on the west.

Arzanah was initially launched as a joint venture between Mubadala and Singapore-based Capitala in 2008 as a 1.4 million sq feet scheme containing a five-tower development with 854 apartments known as Rihan Heights on one corner. Mubadala ended up buying several of the buildings itself.

Mr AlMheiri said that Capitala would continue to oversee the Rihan Heights project but that Mubadala “will act as the master developer and will be responsible for developing the necessary infrastructure of the multi-phase master plan”.

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