Community malls are here to stay and are important for society

24 October 2016

The importance of community retail is not a new trend globally, but one which has gathered pace over the last few years in the UAE. Dubai has witnessed a growing number of community malls which are the epicentre of the community and has provided an added value to the residents. These can be seen in Emirates Living, Arabian Ranches to The Pointe on Palm Jumeriah. This model is now developing in Abu Dhabi with new projects such as Seef Village Mall and Town Square at Al Forsan Village in Khalifa City A. A new 11,000 sq m community mall is the anchor of the villa and apartment community and the nearby greater community of Khalifa City A which is currently underserved in quality retail options.

A strategic focus of many new community malls is to create a family destination which would suit the demographic of the surrounding population and visitors. Various research insights highlight the importance of malls providing a diverse retail centre, offering customers the ability to complete multipurpose shopping trips. Residents are starting to move away from big malls to smaller community malls and retailers have taken notice of this change and brands have started to invest in community malls. New brands which have opened for the first time in Abu Dhabi, in the Town Square mall include Cheeky Monkey’s, Reem Al Bawadi, Oregano, Streat9, Corsini and Tilia Flowers.

When brands such as these are located in concentrated development malls they bring with them even more revenue, jobs, and business to the area. The opening of the Town Square mall has had a positive effect on the surrounding economy and has been especially helpful in aiding local economies and providing jobs in their area.  The opening of a new mall doesn’t just employ new people directly, but it also creates jobs elsewhere from the manufacturing and warehousing of goods.  The revenue from opening just one store will trickle on to many levels, supporting a number of people.  

Many community malls  offer diverse F&B options, to ensure that a variety of cuisines are available to attract people for breakfast, lunch or dinner in addition to extending the dwell and spend within the mall for the line retail operators. This supports the strategy of community malls, where families can shop, eat and play.

Consumer shopping decisions lie at the heart of retail centre development. Consumers wish to minimise costs associated with shopping whilst maximising the opportunity to attain the greatest value whilst on a shopping trip.

Dubai has an abundance of retail options from super regional malls to community malls, but also new trends including the Meraas developments of City Walk, The Beach and Marsa Al Seef which are providing outdoor retail experiences which attract residents and tourists alike. This trend of development is now progressing in Abu Dhabi with Al Maqta Canal Walk.

Whilst there is a need for both small and big malls, the latter might be more favoured by tourists, the former serve the daily lifestyle of communities in Dubai. Small malls have their own strengths; they are in neighbourhoods within walking reach of communities and they are smaller in size, which makes shopping easier and more convenient as shoppers spend less time and effort. And depending on location, community malls might be more economical than bigger malls. With this in mind Knight Frank expects to witness developers refine their master planned developments and improve the retail offering within their communities to ensure the appeal to the resident population and create a sense of place.

Key Community Mall Points:

·         Service focused retail units, to cater to the local communities everyday needs


·         F&B weighted to increase dwell time within the mall


·         Anchored by a supermarket and not a department store, cinema etc.


·         Smaller units to reflect the catchment area and demand


·         They are being developed as part of master developments to increase the appeal of purchasers and providing a sense of place beyond just a dwelling


Notes to Editors

Knight Frank has a strong presence in the Middle East with offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The Group advises clients ranging from individual owners and buyers to major developers, investors and corporate tenants.

Knight Frank LLP is the leading independent global property consultancy. Headquartered in London, Knight Frank and together with its New York-based global alliance partner, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, operate from over 411 offices, in 59 countries, across six continents and has over 13,000 employees. For further information about the Company, please visit or