“You open a mall of this size only once. It’s important that you do it right.” Talal Al Dhiyebi
There’s exciting things afoot on Yas Island this month and last week I was very lucky to have a sneaky peek inside the vast retail and entertainment space that is Yas Mall. The new mall, due to open in the next couple of weeks, is located next to Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld, about ten minutes from my house door-to door, I am very excited and so is my credit card!
Now, it’s no secret I like to indulge in a little of what they call, retail therapy so having a new colossal sized brand spanking new mall opening on my doorstep is quite simply thrilling. The media event kicked off with a tour of the mall and talk by Aldar’s executive director for asset management and as we made our way around from the main entrance to the centralised Town Square, I was pleased to see an elegant two-story space, well-illuminated by natural light from the many roof windows and adorned with a variety of art and sculptures.
Our gracious host and tour guide, Talal Al Dhiyebi
The wide avenues will house a wide variety of familiar retail names (very happy indeed to have already spotted Jo Malone and Molten Brown stores and may have dropped a few hints to the other half as its ’tis nearly the season to be jolly and buy lavish pressies for wives’), food and beverage options and entertainment outlets.
It’s all looking fantastic and now it’s just awaiting its final sprinkling of gloss and glamour with a large team of workman tasked to work 24/7 to add the finishing touches. The three hundred and seventy outlets are a hive of activity with shop and restaurant fit-outs nearly ready for the first phase of completion in time for the official unveiling of this super mall to the expectant public, just before the F1 circus comes to town.
The piece de resistance of this mall, apart from being gimmick free (no ski slope, oversized aquarium or ice rink) has to be the beautiful Town Square, an enormous double height urban space located at the centre of the mall that brings ‘the outside in’.
The large urban space in the heart of the mall, the Town Square (source:www.yasmall.ae)
Illuminated by an abundance of natural light from its arabic patterned glass roof and surrounded by greenery and water features, it has a feeling of calm and will be a great social space to meet friends and relax. The square is flanked by cafes and restaurants and is actually the largest enclosed gathering space of any shopping centre in the Middle East, I wouldn’t expect anything less!
The capital’s first super-regional mall is the ultimate shopping and entertainment destination and will be the second largest (for those who like technical info, it’s a vast 2.5 million square feet) in the UAE after The Dubai Mall. As you would expect with any new venture here in the region there are a lot of firsts. The first Hamley’s toy store, Hollister, Brook’s Brothers and Géant Hypermarket in Abu Dhabi and the first Lego concept store, standalone Under Armour store, two-level Go Sports store and Joe Fresh in UAE.
Vox Cinema at Yas Mall will offer the latest 4DX technology (source:www.facebook.com/voxcinemas)
The major entertainment attraction at this mall is a state of the art twenty screen Vox cinema fitted with the latest 4DX technology that is designed to engage all five senses making the viewers feel like they are part of the movie with motion seats and effects such as wind, water, lightning and scent (think theme park type experience), the biggest MAX screen in the capital (24.5 metres wide for those who are curious) and three Gold cinemas offering the usual ‘first-class’ cinema experience. The cinema is a much welcomed addition to Yas Island for everyone who lives in this off-island area and will encourage us personally to visit the cinema more often without having to travel into the city or out to Mussafah.
Largest Debenhams store outside the UK
The mall will be a mix of local, regional and international brands including a new offering from the Chalhoub Group who are creating their first own brand 200,000 sq ft department store focusing on children’s fashion and three other major department stores. The mall will also house the largest Debenhams store outside of the UK, where shoppers can engage the help of a personal stylist and it’s rumoured that one of their designer’s, I believe Julian MacDonald will be the celebrity guest opening the store.
The mall plan and artist impressions were on display at the media event
In promoting the mall as a distinctive lifestyle experience, Aldar have gone the extra mile to give visitors something that goes beyond just shopping. Visitors to Ferrari World theme park will be able to access the mall via an elevated footbridge and the F1 weekend at the end of the month will bring visitors in their droves with extended opening hours during the whole Grand Prix weekend to facilitate visitors. Younger visitors will be catered for in the region’s largest adventure play system (60,000 sq. ft. area dedicated to playful learning and ‘edutainment’), I for one will be giving that area a width berth. The mall will also have active fun for adults with the region’s first Softair Battlezone in which they can experience the thrill of interactive competition.
The proposed food court area (source:www.yasmall.ae)
With over sixty food and beverage outlets opening, Yas Mall will offer a large variety of dining choices including outdoor dining on Cascade Walk and those lining the edges of Town Square plus others dotted about the mall. Those who prefer a themed restaurant will enjoy Rogo’s, the world’s biggest Rollercoaster Restaurant, where food will arrive to the table on roller coaster tracks, Yes really! American favourite, The Cheesecake Factory makes its debut in Abu Dhabi alongside the popular Asian inspired P.F. Changs, Alice in Wonderland-esq Shakespeare and Co, a Champions League Café for those footy fans (I’m predicting a great place to deposit the male family members while the ladies shop in peace) and French bakery and cafe Paul alongside high-street coffee chains (I spotted a large Costa) and many other choices.
Marco Cianfanelli’s impressive sculpture greets you as you drive up to the malls main entrance and is a magnificent sight from the Sheikh Khalifa highway.
Art lovers have not been forgotten and with a nod to contemporary design, Aldar commissioned celebrated South African artist Marco Cianfanelli to design an enormous unique and striking sculpture which is installed outside the main entrance driveway. Two additional pieces of his work, beautiful life-sized metal trees are strategically placed inside in the avenues.
One of the metal tree sculptures, this one located ouside the Debenhams store
Dutch paper art artist Peter Gentenaar designed various paper fibre art sculptures that are hanging throughout the mall from the ceilings. Art connoisseurs can also expect regular exhibitions at the mall to keep things current and exciting.
Peter Gentenaar designed various paper fibre art sculptures
It’s really encouraging to discover that in this land of wastefulness Aldar have built Yas Mall using green principles (achieving a Two Pearl Estidama rating, one being the lowest – Estidama meaning sustainability in Arabic) with 80% of the steel and 50% of the wood used in construction recycled or sustainably sourced and in addition, 20% of all materials used have been procured from regional sources. I was also pleased to see so many covered car parking spaces, there are 10,000 to be exact, that will be a welcome relief in the hotter months.
Hospitality at the media event took place in Town Square
Thank you Yas Mall for the sneaky peek, I was impressed by your sheer size, your design features and your attention to detail and I’m soooooo excited about your forthcoming opening. I am looking forward to navigating your streets, wandering around your avenues and wide boulevards before stopping off in Town Square for refreshments with friends and family. I can’t wait to visit your cinema and experience its 4DX magic and enjoy the future events you will offer, thank you also for the fabulous gift bag, you really shouldn’t have, but I’m very glad you did! I look forward to seeing you again very soon in all your glory!
Find out more information about Yas Mall below. Click on the YouTube link to view the promotional video which sees the Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 racing car using the mall as an impromptu racetrack.
An aerial view of Yas Mall (source:www.yasmall.ae)
Twitter and Instagram:@yasmallad.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.