Known as the shopping capital of the Middle East, Dubai is home to some of the world’s largest shopping malls and a well-developed retail ecosystem.
As PYMNTS recently reported, local brands are embracing innovation and offering a glimpse into the future of hybrid shopping experiences that combine elements of e-commerce and in-store retail.
But beyond the UAE’s hybrid shopping, alternative retail destinations in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are emerging and providing a unique blend of shopping with entertainment and leisure to diversify the attractiveness of the GCC retail district.
Majid Al Futtaim breaks the mold in Saudi and Oman malls
Last month, Dubai-based one of the largest mall operators in the Middle East, Majid Al Futtaim, opened an immersive experience in Riyadh Park Mall in Saudi Arabia in partnership with American virtual reality (VR) company Dreamscape.
The new VR location is the second Dreamscape project to open at Majid Al Futtaim Mall after the company’s regional debut at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.
See also: VR Venture gets Hollywood support
In fact, Majid Al Futtaim is increasingly establishing its presence in the retail market in Saudi Arabia and is currently building what is expected to be the largest shopping mall in the Kingdom, Mall of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh.
The new retail and entertainment complex will include a five-star hotel, 600 stores spread over nearly 300,000 square meters of floor space, a 40,000 square meter indoor ski slope and a snow park.
Majid Al Futtaim appears to be committed to the same formula of integrating retail, leisure, leisure and dining into other markets.
Among the company’s other malls, Mall of Oman – which celebrated its first anniversary last month – also included an indoor snow park along with 15 movie screens, the country’s first IMAX, an arcade and a children’s play area.
The Omani capital, Muscat, has attracted a number of other global brands besides Majid Al Futtaim, including Emirati companies looking to expand their regional presence.
For example, department store Jashanmal opened its first location in Oman in May, and Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group opened its first IKEA franchise in the country in June.
Qatari retailers prepare for the World Cup
Ahead of next month’s soccer World Cup, Qatar’s retail sector is gearing up to welcome more than one million soccer fans who are expected to descend on the Arab country.
The Doha Sports City Complex, also known as the Aspire Zone, will be a major hub of activity during the tournament, which includes the Khalifa International Stadium and Doha’s iconic Villaggio complex.
Last month, for example, a Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) kiosk located in Villaggio Mall was registering customers for limited edition FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Visa cards from the bank and inviting shoppers to play an immersive VR football game.
QIB or Qatar National Bank Visa card holders were also able to win tickets to the World Cup matches in another initiative taking place at Villaggio Mall.
Read more: QNB unveils new payment services in Qatar
For all PYMNTS retail and EMEA coverage, subscribe to the Journal EMEA and retail newsletters.
We are always looking for opportunities to partner with innovators and opponents.