Real Estate

The external view of the mall.

The external view of the mall.

Mall with a difference

A distinctive mall, designed in keeping with Feng Shui principles, is set to open later this year at Dilmunia, Bahrain’s wellness island. Gulf Construction gets an insight into what makes it unique from its CEO.

May 2019

Construction work is in the final stages on a one-of-its-kind quality leisure destination that is taking shape in the heart of Dilmunia Island in Bahrain.

The Mall of Dilmunia, which is targeted for opening in the fourth quarter of this year, has been planned as an attraction-loaded family and tourist hub, in line with the government’s vision of making Bahrain a family destination.

In an interview with Gulf Construction, Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa, CEO of the Mall of Dilmunia, says the unique destination will cater to both genders and all age groups through four distinct entertainment concepts and three major attractions. These are spread across the mall keeping the principles of Feng Shui in mind while ensuring the smooth circulation of traffic throughout.

Located in Dilmunia Island in the Muharraq Governorate, Mall of Dilmunia is just six minutes from Bahrain International Airport and 15 minutes from the King Fahad Causeway.

The 65,000-sq-m mall will offer a gross leasable area of 45,000 sq m over five floors for 200 to 250 retail outlets and is provided with 970 car-parking spaces.

Shaikh Mohammed says the Mall of Dilmunia represents a balance of modernistic and futuristic architecture where great care has been taken to address the needs of every family member.

“The strategy of Dilmunia Island itself is founded on reflecting what modern society wants in terms of an integrated development. The high-quality project with a unique character fills a real estate development gap and has set a foundation to provide a unique lifestyle that includes all aspects of living. The Mall of Dilmunia acts as an extension to creating an inclusive family destination where tenants and guests can sense the added value. The mall emphasises on quality-driven entertainment, leisure facilities, and retail and has attracted interested retailers from across the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region who are yet to enter the Bahraini market,” he adds.

 

The main ground floor atrium.

The main ground floor atrium.

Project overview

Giving a overview of the Mall of Dilmunia, Shaikh Mohammed says its key attractions include the Dilmunia Canal that meanders around the mall on three sides, offering food and beverage outlets great outdoor seating areas overlooking the canal and the pedestrian area. Another highlight is a 7-m-wide and 16-m-high aquarium – believed to be the region’s largest cylindrical aquarium – that can be seen from all levels of the mall, providing visitors a beautiful view of the aquatic life at different depths and the opportunity to feed the marine creatures. Another distinctive feature of the mall is the Boulevard, an area with an old European town facade. It encompasses various shops offering jewellery, fashion, lifestyle, perfumes, and other products.

“The area has a 60 by 10 m ceiling that is overlaid by an LED screen with audio/video output to give visitors a sense of being outdoors,” he explains.

The mall also features a 736-sq-m atrium for retailers to promote their products/services; a perfectly square ice-rink - the first mall in Bahrain with an ice rink (26 sq m) that has the capacity for over 500 skaters at a time; indoor sport fields; and a 2,250-sq-m family entertainment area.

“As families explore the mall, they will be exposed to many elements that depict the natural environment, bringing about positive effects on their health and well-being,” Shaikh Mohammed comments.

Mall of Dilmunia’s entertainment aspects are categorised as ‘Funscape World’ with four concepts:

• Funscape Adventure: This area for young kids is located on the lower ground level and features climbing entertainment concepts such as wall climbing, an 18-m-high rope course, and zip lines.

• Funscape Ice: Located on the first floor is a 26-sq-m ice rink surrounded by sports-themed shops and cafes.

• Funscape Play: This 2,250-sq-m family entertainment centre features major rides, redemption games, arcade, virtual reality, soft play, party space and more.

• Funscape Sport: This dedicated sports area with a sports arcade and two indoor football pitches is equipped with changing rooms and all the required amenities.

The designer of the project is DP Architects in partnership with Mazen Alumran Consulting Engineers, which is also acting as the project consultant. The project manager is DG Jones and Partners, while Aquatic Environmental Systems is leading the aquarium design and Amusement Services International the entertainment designs including all features of Funscape World.

The mall, being centrally positioned on Dilmunia Island, is connected through the main road and is designed to accommodate the expected traffic flow to it. Parking areas are provided inside the building in two basement levels (B2 and B1) and the lower ground levels, and connected by elevators and escalators to various locations leading to the mall’s retail areas. The parking area is equipped with a building management system, which helps to easily identify the availability of free spaces in each zone. In addition, the parking slots are wider than the standard recommended size so as to ease movement.

 

Construction overview

With all structural work completed on the Mall of Dilmunia, work has begun on the fit-outs of some of the main anchors. Shaikh Mohammed says the majority of the outlets are scheduled to be handed over to the tenants this month (May).

The façade work is 50 per cent done, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) work is 70 per cent complete, and all major equipment has reached the site and is being positioned.

The main contractor, the CCT Cyprus Cebarco Tabet joint venture, started work on the project in April 2017 under a BD42-million ($111.7 million) contract and is expected to complete it in October 2019.

Commenting on the challenges, Shaikh Mohammed says typical procedural challenges are part of the project life.

He says: “From day one, the site team has been working to resolve all challenges. Since the Mall of Dilmunia is an entertainment destination and is designed to comprise the latest technology and ideas from different parts of the world, coordination with various contractors and subcontractors was the most challenging aspect.

“The mall had appointed different contractors from around the world to execute what was required for the entertainment facilities such as the aquarium, ice rink, and various parts of Funscape World. Accordingly, our appointed project manager and consultant were dynamically engaged on a daily basis to coordinate with all parties and eliminate any clashes or problems arising,” the CEO points out.

 

Green & smart aspects

The environmental aspect has been an essential criterion incorporated into the design of the mall. According to Shaikh Mohammed, the focus has been on reducing power consumption by carefully studying the building façade and introducing insulated precast panels in the elevation facing the sun rather than having a full-glass façade. This helps reduce the cooling load. The designs are also aimed at reducing water consumption through installing highly efficient sensor mixers.

Concerning the smart aspect, specialised consultant T-Linx has been appointed to implement all the new technology to ensure that the Mall of Dilmunia is a smart mall.

According to Dana Williamson, head of offices, business space and retail at JLL Mena, the Mall of Dilmunia, with its unique offerings, fills a niche in Bahrain’s retail market, which maintains an equilibrium in retail supply compared to the greater region.

“The current occupancy levels in Bahrain’s retail market in quality developments remain healthy, reaching 85 to 100 per cent. Bahrainis and expatriates dedicate the majority of their spending to food and beverage (F&B). And so the Bahraini retail sector will remain attractive, owing to an expanding population base, rising tourist arrivals, evolving consumer preferences and the government’s push towards economic diversification and tourism infrastructures,” she says.

Williamson says the Mall of Dilmunia’s unique location at the entrance of Dilmunia Island will make it a destination for people seeking to spend time with their families, shop and dine along the proposed canal at the island.

The Mall of Dilmunia will not only respond to the established drivers of Bahrain’s retail market, but is also in line with a new trend in the retail industry of focusing on the wider customer’s experience. Its offering of a wide range of leisure and entertainment options will provide differentiating elements to address the needs of Bahrain’s younger generation, which is particularly brand conscious.  




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