Majid Al Futtaim Holding LLC, the operator of malls and hotels in the Middle East, expects retail sales to rise between 15 to 20 percent this year as more visitors shop in Dubai.
Sales at malls operated by the company, including one with an indoor ski slope, returned to levels last seen in 2008 in the first quarter, as shoppers from the Gulf, mainly Saudi Arabia, Russia and Europe traveled to the emirate, Peter Walichnowski, Chief Executive Officer Majid Al Futtaim Properties, said in a phone interview today.
Dubai’s international airport, home to the world’s largest airline by international traffic Emirates, saw passenger traffic grow 19 percent in February from a year ago to 4.56 million, it said March 27. The emirate, which has the Middle East’s largest mall and the world’s tallest skyscraper, received 9.3 million tourists last year, up 10 percent from 2010, its tourism department said March 7.
“Dubai has certainly come back,” said Walichnowski. “Our foot traffic and sales are higher than they were in 2008 pre- crash, which was the peak year. We benefited from the Arab Spring as Dubai has seen more tourists coming in.”
Majid Al Futtaim opened a 400 million dirhams ($109 million) mall in Fujairah, one of the United Arab Emirates’ northern sheikhdoms, today with 105 retail outlets, the CEO said. The company also aims to build four to five large malls in Saudi Arabia over five to seven years and may announce the first development in the next 12 to 18 months, he said.
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