Mega-malls? Think ‘village squares and parks,’ says Emaar boss

Mohammed Alabbar, chairman of the Dubai-listed Emaar real-estate company: ‘You should update your business as often as your phone.’ (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2018

Mega-malls? Think ‘village squares and parks,’ says Emaar boss

  • Mohammed Alabbar, Emaar’s chairman, said new malls being developed by the Dubai-listed real estate company will be inspired by a sense of community.
  • Alabbar has also become a trailblazer in the region’s still fledgling e-commerce sector, with the launch of noon.com in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

MADRID: Emaar Properties’ next generation of malls will mark a return to an old-fashioned shopping experience even as the developer pushes to expand its digital business.
Mohammed Alabbar, Emaar’s chairman, said new malls being developed by the Dubai-listed real estate company will be inspired by a sense of community — which is rapidly disappearing as more shoppers interact with devices rather than people.
“The best brands are on gorgeous streets, whether it is Sloane Street or Fifth Avenue. Maybe we should start taking the granite and the marble out of the shopping mall and put in the asphalt,” he told the World Retail Congress in Madrid.
“The old life of the square brought together by the church or mosque or synagogue — we need to put some of that back in the new stuff we’re doing.”
Alabbar revealed that three new malls in Serbia, Egypt and Dubai would all be built along this theme.

 

The nature of entertainment was also changing fast, he said.
“We are designing malls now with parks, music, art. Entertainment has changed. Now people are taking out the ice-skating rink and putting in a digital screen the size of the rink, because that’s where the kids are interacting, playing with whatever they have drawn on their phone and dropping it on the screen,” he said.
The property and e-commerce tycoon said the pace of progress in the digital sector meant that businesses needed to be constantly developing. “You should update your business as often as your phone is updated,” he said. “The digital e-commerce people are not normal people. They will take over the world. They are young, they are bright and they are so fast it is unbelievable. They have beds in the office.”
Emaar Properties built some of Dubai’s best-known landmarks, including the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.

We are designing malls now with parks, music, art. Entertainment has changed.

Mohammed Alabbar, Emaar Properties chairman

Alabbar has also become a trailblazer in the region’s still fledgling e-commerce sector, with the launch of noon.com in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
His expansion into digital shopping comes as Emaar’s traditional mall assets come under pressure from tougher trading conditions in the emirate.Last week the Dubai government revealed plans to support the sector as part of reforms to boost business confidence.
Emaar completed the second phase of the Dubai Mall in the first quarter of 2018, which added about 52,400 square meters of gross leasable area.
Dubai retail rents have declined by as much as a quarter in the past year, according to data from JLL, the real estate consultancy.

FASTFACTS

Dubai Mall added about 52,400 square meters of gross leasable area this quarter.


France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

Updated 08 December 2019

France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

  • Macron government will discuss a global digital tax with Washington at the OECD, says finance minister

PARIS: France is ready to go to the World Trade Organization to challenge US President Donald Trump’s threat to put tariffs on French goods in a row over a French tax on internet companies, its finance minister said on Sunday.

“We are ready to take this to an international court, notably the WTO, because the national tax on digital companies touches US companies in the same way as EU or French companies or Chinese. It is not discriminatory,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 television. Paris has long complained about US digital companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France.

In July, the French government decided to apply a 3 percent levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than €25 million in French revenue and €750 million ($845 million) worldwide. It is due to kick in retroactively from the start of 2019.

Washington is threatening to retaliate with heavy duties on imports of French cheeses and luxury handbags, but France and the EU say they are ready to retaliate in turn if Trump carries out the threat. Le Maire said France was willing to discuss a global digital tax with the US at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but that such a tax could not be optional for internet companies.

“If there is agreement at the OECD, all the better, then we will finally have a global digital tax. If there is no agreement at OECD level, we will restart talks at EU level,” Le Maire said.

He added that new EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni had already proposed to restart such talks.

France pushed ahead with its digital tax after EU member states, under the previous executive European Commission, failed to agree on a levy valid across the bloc after opposition from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The new European Commission assumed office on Dec. 1.