Mubadala plans Sowwah shopping centre


By Armina Ligaya

A division of Mubadala Development is planning a new shopping centre for the capital’s business district on Sowwah Island.

An undtaed artist's rendering of Sowwah Island. Courtesy Mubadala Real Estate & Hospitality
An undtaed artist's rendering of Sowwah Island. Courtesy Mubadala Real Estate & Hospitality

The Galleria at Sowwah Square, a 33,000 square metre shopping area, is expected to open next year.

Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality has entered into a joint venture with Gulf Related, a regional property developer, to develop the shopping centre, it said yesterday.

“We feel that we will both be getting demand from on the island and off the island,” said Peter Wilding, the executive director of Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality. “Of the 33,000 square metres, about one-third of that will be [food and beverage outlets], which we feel is the real point of difference.” Mubadala Development is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. The Galleria is part of the 114 hectare Sowwah Island mixed-use development, projected to have a working population of 75,000 and 30,000 residents.

Other developments under way within the capital’s new central business district include the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi and Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotels.

Analysts say the development would be welcomed by residents in the capital as it has a shortage of shopping facilities, with many people driving to Dubai to shop.

An increasing number of shopping centres are being planned to cater for this demand, but analysts warn Abu Dhabi may be heading for oversupply.

Retail space in the capital is expected to double to 1.8 million square metres by 2015, according to the property broker Cushman & Wakefield. At 33,000 square metres of gross leaseable area, however, The Galleria is relatively small, aimed at serving the local community, said David Macadam, the Mena director of retail for Jones Lang LaSalle.

But the success of The Galleria will hinge on the number of occupants in the office and residential buildings on Sowwah Island, said Mr Macadam.

“If there is no one in the catchment area, there will be headaches.”