Reem Mall – Mall of the future
Reem Mall is a project set to change the face of malls the world over. As the first-ever fully enabled offline to online mall, and home to a unique mix of retail, leisure and dining experiences, the USD 1.2bn project in Abu Dhabi is set to become a destination like no other.
Could this be the mall of the future?
The world around us is changing. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will be characterised by a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. It will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. It is disrupting almost every industry there is … and this includes retail.
We live in a digital world
E-commerce, powered by advances in computing, has created an ecosystem that provides a completely personalised and frictionless consumer experience. People are seeking to discover a true sense of connection — more than just a place to shop and beyond a transactional relationship with the brands they love.
It is with this foresight that the USD1.2bn Reem Mall will factor the evolving uses of social media, big data and smart technology into its design, to better communicate with consumers.
The mall’s 2 million square feet of retail, leisure, dining, and entertainment choices, will comprise 450 stores, including 100 food and beverage outlets. Positioned on Reem Island – right in the heart of ‘new’ Abu Dhabi – the mall will become the beating heart of a completely new destination.
Positioned as a regional – and global – retail pioneer, Reem Mall aims to completely transform the shopping experience as we know it, connecting consumers with retailers in new ways, and fine-tuning the interaction between them.
“At Reem Mall, we are creating a totally new retail concept — a fully digitally enabled smart shopping centre,” explains Shane Eldstrom, the CEO of Al Farwaniya Property Developments. “By fusing e-commerce platforms with brick-and-mortar, we will be able to cater to almost every consumer desire. Through leveraging analysis and insights generated by Big Data, we will be able to predict consumer needs and provide uniquely personalised content. This, in turn, will lead to superior sales potential, an enhanced customer journey. As the world is changing, so is our industry.”
The company decided to take this bold direction, Eldstorm explains, driven by evolving customer needs.
“We started by asking ‘What are the frustrations customers experience when they are trying to shop?’ and then worked diligently to eliminate as many of those points as possible to create the ultimate customer experience. For instance, if you lose your car in the mall car park you will be able to use the app to locate it. We will offer genuine hands-free shopping which will allow your packages to be delivered to your car, your home, or anywhere in the world. There is valet parking where you can call your car out before you are ready to leave. We also use the information to personalise your experience with innovative smart phone technology. We’re having a relevant conversation with our retailers to give them new ways to reach the right people.”
From the outset, Reem Mall developers set themselves the challenge of creating a mall unlike anything that Abu Dhabi has ever seen before. From the introduction of the region’s first food hall concept to the world’s largest snow play park, Snow Abu Dhabi, this mall will surprise and excite every step of the way.
Snow Abu Dhabi in particular plays an integral part in the mall’s unique offering. It has been designed with the family in mind, offering everything from sledging and tobogganing through to VIP suites and an ice café. Moreover, this unique venue has been specially themed and animated and will include space for a range of additional amenities, shows, and events.
The attraction will be laid out across 125,000 square feet, appearing to visitors like a magically enchanted kingdom divided into a number of distinct themed zones. Within these zones families will see 13 world-class rides and attractions, including Blizzard’s Bazaar, Snowflake Garden and Flurries’ Mountain.
Entering a winter wonderland will be just one of the many entertainment options at Reem Mall. Magic Planet and VOX Cinemas have also come together to offer the very best
and never-before-seen concepts in cinema and family entertainment.
“There will be everything you love about a shopping centre but more of it,” Eldstrom says.
A holistic design
All of these incredible experiences will be further enhanced by the mall’s holistic design.
CallisonRTKL skillfully integrated the building’s design with the rich natural environment that envelops Abu Dhabi and Reem Island, with a highly functional layout and abundant services to ensure an unparalleled realization of the project vision. A consumer-focused design has taken into consideration vital comfort factors such as parking – there will be nearly 7,000 parking places which is unprecedented – as well as customer flow, ambiance and even bathroom layouts.
“In devising the architectural concept for Reem Mall, we chose to tell a story of Reem Island and in doing so designed a leisure and retail environment with enduring value and relevance,” said CallisonRTKL Associate Director, Rupert Plumpton.
Delivering the future
With an impressive and established developer consortium backing the delivery of Reem Mall, its vision of retail excellence is well on its way to becoming reality.
Reem Mall is being developed by Al Farwaniya Property Developments company. It is a joint venture owned by the Kuwaiti National Real Estate Company (NREC) and United Projects for Aviation Services Company (UPAC), for the special purpose of building Reem Mall.
This is certainly one of the company’s most ambitious projects, one that has required a wide range of skills and resources.
“The scale has of course always been a challenge, as it would be with any project of this size, but it’s been surprisingly smooth sailing,” Eldstrom admits. “We’ve been communicating and working with the helpful authorities of Abu Dhabi, and we’re very excited about the progress we’ve made. Civil works are nearing completion.
“Right now we’re in the hard part of the job with in excess of 7,000 workers pouring concrete and mixing steel around the clock. As we’re moving onto the technical phase of the project, we will be working closely with different partners from app developers to tech companies, to bring the digital and online elements to life.”
And, as construction is progressing on site, the developers are continuing to add ambitious new elements to the project.
“We are focused on making this project perfect but as we start to see the return on that investment, we’ll also look at other opportunities,” Eldstrom says. “We have plans for value-added developments to the mall including hotels, office blocks and apartments.”
Al Farwaniya will be looking at integrating digital into these projects as well, but doing so will be a far more complex process than simply transposing what they have done in the shopping centre to new venues.
“The concept of digital integration is taking a different form with different venues,” Eldstrom says. “As further technologies like wearables, virtual reality, e-commerce, m-commerce, even VR-commerce become common, we want to make sure we’re getting the most out of them.”