Abu Dhabi's New Urban Hub

Al Maryah Central Insight Report 2017

Over the past several years, research on the UAE retail sector has presented facts and figures on market size, demographics and spending habits – and much of this research has focused on shoppers based in Dubai. Gulf Related understands that Abu Dhabi’s consumers have their own set of needs and that understanding these needs goes beyond data collection. Our research focuses on Abu Dhabi’s community and explores the sentiment and emotion that shapes consumers’ decisions on where they shop and dine and why, what they want and expect from their entertainment and leisure options and what they think is missing.

The research was conducted by Brunswick Insight and took place in late 2016 across four phases:

- Internal interviews drawing out the institutional knowledge of Gulf Related’s industry experts

- In depth interviews and an online survey with existing retailers in The Galleria

- 12 consumer focus groups segmented by nationality and demographics

- Survey of 840 Abu Dhabi consumers

To discover more, please click the report on the right.

Knowing our Community

A young, full-time employed Emirati, Khalid often visits the mall with his male friends for around six hours per day on the weekend. Khalid and his friends enjoy a luxury lifestyle and expect to be offered VIP services like car valet when they visit. They’ll often spend more than 200 AED per person on dining, but don’t opt for beverages or shisha. It’s important to Khalid that shop assistants speak Arabic.

Mariam, an Emirati woman who does not work, likes to make long visits to the mall during the daytime on weekdays. Mariam chooses malls where she can find all her favorite high-end and mid-range brands in one location, and she’ll happily travel to a mall in Dubai in search of particular products. A concierge service that can book her appointments or collect her shopping so she doesn’t need to carry bulky bags is important to Mariam, as are healthy food options.

Employed Egyptian expat Hussein prefers to make short visits to malls in the evening. He likes to see a film, then sits outside at restaurants or cafés where he can smoke shisha with his extended family and circle of close friends. Hussein is conscious of how attractive and pleasant a mall’s design is, and puts a high premium on quality customer service

Muna, a self-employed Jordanian with three children, prefers to visit malls with her family in the evenings after the kids come home from school. Plentiful children’s activities and family-friendly restaurants with children’s menus are very important to her, as are clean and easy-to-find restrooms. Muna chooses malls with late opening hours so that the family can spend the whole evening together.

John retains the functional view of malls that is more common in his home country of Britain, and prefers to visit the mall for efficient shopping, running errands or special events. A smoker, John also schedules business meetings in cafés or restaurants serving beverages at the mall closest to his office, often spending upwards of 200 AED per person on meals. John doesn’t travel outside Abu Dhabi to visit malls, choosing only what he can find close to home.

American student, Sarah has assimilated to the Gulf’s mall-focused culture, and often spends long periods of time in the mall during weekdays, engaging in a variety of activities, like going to the gym, studying in a café and then meeting her friends to window shop. A range of interesting restaurants offering diverse, healthy cuisine is important to Sarah, a vegetarian foodie. Sarah visits malls in Dubai around once a month in search of familiar brands she can’t find in Abu Dhabi, or a wider choice of specific types of shop, like bookstores. However, Sarah is put off from buying in some stores by overly attentive customer service staff.

Raj, an Indian expat employed a part time, is a price conscious shopper who is reluctant to pay for add-ons like parking during his trips to the mall. For this reason, he usually chooses a mall with good transportation connections, like a bus service, and free-to-attend special events. Raj tends to visit the mall in the evenings, when he goes to socialise with his co-workers, dining at restaurants costing less than 100 AED per person.

Filipino housewife Camilla is mostly focused on shopping and making efficient purchases at mid-range shops when she visits the mall; she is less interested in entertainment options, and prefers to cook at home rather than dining out. Sufficient seating and easy navigation around the mall space are very important to Camilla, as are knowledgeable and helpful customer service staff. Camilla very rarely makes a trip to a mall outside Abu Dhabi, as she focuses more on practical purchases than aspirational brand consciousness.

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