“Show me a mall and I’m happy.” Julia Roberts
It’s Finally Open! Yas Mall opened its doors to the public at 10am yesterday after many delays, much hype and unprecedented levels of anticipation. People flocked to Abu Dhabi’s gigantic retail, dining and entertainment destination to get a look for themselves ahead of the capital’s biggest weekend of the year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which kicks off today.
Town Square came alive at the official opening attended by members of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family
I was lucky enough to be present at the grand opening event on Tuesday evening attended by members of the Abu Dhabi royal family with live music, a celebration video, the official unveiling of Marco Cianfanelli large outdoor sculpture featuring six falcons (from 360 angle), a spectacular firework display and I had a real sense of occasion of being part of a memorable event in Abu Dhabi’s history. The transformation from building site at the media tour two weeks ago to the pre-opening night’s ceremony was remarkable, everyone behind the scenes must have worked solidly 24/7 to achieve such dramatic changes (read Sneaky Peek: Yas Mall here)
Live music courtesy of a trio of female violinists
Aside from a few expected teething problems with lack of utilities connection and air-conditioning in some shops and cafes, the majority of the stores opened their doors to excited shoppers yesterday as planned. Balloons, free cup cakes and juices were given out at various outlets as were vouchers and discounts in certain stores and free gifts when purchases were made.
Marco Cianfenelli’s large sculpture featuring six falcons was unveiled at the official opening on Tuesday evening (source:www.yasmall.ae)
As part of the opening celebrations there are three fashion shows daily at 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 8.30pm featuring some of the brands from the mall in the bright and spacious Town Square, starting yesterday and running until Sunday 23rd November. Yasalam Live starts at the mall today with artists giving interviews and live music every day from 3-6pm and other celebrities making live appearances over the F1 weekend. Pharrell Williams is rumoured to be at the Adidas store at some point over the weekend but everyone was tip-lipped as to when but the store confirmed that Rita Ora will be making an appearance on Saturday afternoon. Those visiting Ferrari World this weekend can access the mall directly from the theme park.
One of yesterdays fashion shows from my FROW position which featured Designal and Scotch & Soda brands
In celebration of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, Yas Mall is holding a F1 competition from today (Thursday) until Sunday. Racegoers are asked to take as many photos of their F1 experience and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #YasMall. The top three most liked photos everyday will win vouchers from select stores. Winners will be announced on Monday, November 24th.
Yasalam artists will be dropping by Yas Mall’s Town Square for interviews and live music from 3-6 pm everyday from today until Sunday (source:www.facebook.com/yasmallad)
An elegant macaroon dress by James Harris is located outside the PAUL cafe
Now the important bit, what’s in Yas Mall? The thing that I’m most pleased about and something that will change the capitals retail market I’m sure is an abundance of high street and designer stores all under one roof, no more going to certain malls for certain shops or travelling to Dubai to satisfy shopping needs, hooray! So back to the nitty-gritty, there’s over 370 stores in this world-class entertainment destination some are old favourites and others are making their debut in Abu Dhabi, UAE and even the Middle East.
Let’s start with those UK high street favourites, there’s the biggest Debenhams store outside the UK and it’s a large, bright and well-stocked space that has its own Personal Shopper service, small Starbucks and car park entrance. I also spotted a smaller House of Fraser which is yet to open but disappointingly for me no John Lewis. The largest Marks & Spencer’s in Abu Dhabi is located near the entrance and I was very pleased to discover it has a large cafe at the rear of the store (felt like I was back in the UK) complete with a full menu and an array of freshly baked cakes and sandwiches. Lots of lovely M & S festive goodies too and a small food hall section, happy days for this Brit especially as they were giving out free biscuits yesterday.
So now lets deal with the ‘firsts’ in true UAE style. There’s the first Hamleys toy store, Cheesecake Factory, Hollister, Brook Brothers (largest in the region), Géant Hypermarket, VOX 4DX cinema and Angelina Café in Abu Dhabi. The first standalone Lego and Under Armour stores, Joe Fresh, two-level Go Sports and Guylian in the UAE and making their debut in the Middle East are Jamba Juice, Pie Face, Penny Black, Kazar and the Champions League Café.
A large Lego camel takes pride of place in the first standalone Lego store in the region
As well as the largest Debenham’s and Marks and Spencer’s there’s the largest H & M and Victoria’s Secret (complete with an adjacent PINK store which will please the teenager who loves all their products) and MAX cinema screen in Abu Dhabi. The largest Zara, Nike and Adidas stores in the Middle East and the biggest Fun Works and the children’s play zone in the region. Yet to open and a first in the MENA region is Rogo’s the world’s largest roller coaster restaurant and Chalhoub department store that will feature over 200 brands in 200,000 sq. ft of retail space.
My personal favourites (as mentioned in my earlier Sneaky Peak post) Jo Malone (first in Abu Dhabi) and Molten Brown both have quaint little stores and with my birthday and Christmas on the horizon next month the other half and children have no excuses, even circled them on the mall map just in case. The large Virgin store has an Urban Outfitters feel about it with a range of trendy and quirky clothing, accessories, make-up, books and knick-knacks as well as the usual items and it even has a slide, yes that’s right there is a slide in the middle of the store. If like the teenager you like the ‘I love ….’ range from different cities across the world, your needs are catered for here at the ‘I Love AD’ stand with t-shirts, caps, key rings and so on located outside Shakespeare’s’ cafe.
I was also pleased to spot a Jigsaw London, Cos, Pinko and a large Ted Baker store alongside Scotch & Soda, River Island, Oasis, Warehouse, Miss Selfridge, Coast, American Eagle among a host of others. There are Shoe shops, Ladies, Men’s and Kids clothing outlets, Sports shops, Health and Beauty, Books, Cards, Gifts, Jewellery and Watches, Electronics, Optical, Luggage, Underwear and Swimwear and Home-ware options including a large Pottery Barn, Zara Home and the first West Elm shop in the capital. Don’t forget the very large french Hypermarket too on the lower ground floor. You get the picture, the list is very long and you can pretty much get everything under one roof and it’s all about ten minutes from my apartment, smug much!
My favourite part of the mall the impressive Town Square where the ‘outside comes inside’ (source:www.yasmall.ae)
Food and Beverage options are well covered with a variety of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, juice bars and fast food options. To name a few Shake Shack, P.F Changs, the aforementioned Cheesecake Factory, Al Forno, Giraffe, Shakespeare’s are all very well located around or near the centre Town Square and those that were open were very busy yesterday. I had lunch at Shakespeare’s with a friend and they seemed to be coping quite well with the busy opening day trade. There’s a food court area but that seemed quiet and still under development yesterday. I’ve also been to the M & S cafe twice already and the food and service were good as was the range of options available. I’m looking forward to the opening of Angelina Café and had a quick browse around the popular Tea shops and cafes for future reference, unfortunately The bagel bar/Coffee House was a victim of the lack of utilities yesterday so was staffed but not serving.
Entertainment wise there’s also an abundance of options with the large 20-screen VOX cinema offering its advanced 4DX technology to engage all five senses, biggest MAX screen and three Gold cinemas where you can watch movies in ultimate luxury. Those looking for active fun can thrash out their competitiveness in the region’s first Softair Battlezone while younger family members are amused in Fun Works, the regions largest learning and ‘edutainment’ area with all manner of activities on offer from arts, theatre, science and construction.
My i-phone ran out of battery (as usual) and I was disappointed to discover that there weren’t any phone charging stations like those in Westfield in London where you leave your phone for 30 minutes free charging in a locker, maybe I missed them or they are coming soon, if not there’s some feedback right there Yas Mall management, phone charging stations would be a welcome addition.
So if you like to shop, eat, drink and enjoy being entertained then Yas Mall is perfect for you. Whether you pop in for a coffee, meet a friend for lunch, go for a family dinner, need a new outfit or to buy a gift or maybe just want to watch the latest cinema release you just need to ‘Be Where it’s all Happening‘ Yas Mall.
Location: Yas Island
Telephone: 800 YASMALL
Stores, Restaurants, Food Court & Attractions
Sunday to Wednesday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Thursday to Saturday: 10:00am – 12.00am
Daily: 9:00am – 12:00am
Daily: 9:00am – 12:00am
For information check the VOX cinema movie guide: www.voxcinemas.ae
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.