Home / Construction update: Expansion of Ras Al Khaimah's Manar Mall

Construction update: Expansion of Ras Al Khaimah's Manar Mall

by Oscar Rousseau on Aug 14, 2018

Expansion work is under way in full swing for Al Hamra's Manar Mall in Ras Al Khaimah.
Expansion work is under way in full swing for Al Hamra's Manar Mall in Ras Al Khaimah.
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The expansion of Manar Mall, the biggest shopping centre in Ras Al Khaimah, is under way to double its size. Al Hamra Real Estate Development, a subsidiary of Al Hamra Group, is developing the project to complement the ambitions of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), which aims to attract one million tourists to the country’s northern emirate next year.

Manar Mall’s $98m (AED360m) expansion is set for completion in December 2018, and will see the shopping centre’s gross leasable area increased from 27,000m² to 55,000m². While the increased facility will have room for more than 80 new retail outlets, the expansion programme covers more than just the retail sections of the mall. Construction work planned for the project includes the construction of a G+2 and a G+3 carpark; a family entertainment centre that will feature the Middle East and North Africa’s tallest indoor drop tower; a food court; and a promenade looking out on one of the largest natural mangroves in Ras Al Khaimah. Reclamation work has already been completed to add 15m of space to the waterfront mall, creating a 450m-long landscaped promenade featuring a selection of food and beverage outlets, dancing fountains, and entertainment options. The project will cover 20ha once it is fully completed.

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Barry Ebrahimy, head of commercial at Al Hamra Group, says conceptual design work for the expansion started in March 2014, a year before construction kicked into gear on 17 March, 2015. Ebrahimy explains that “one of the challenges” with the mall’s expansion is that its design must be seamless: “You do not want to create a difference experience between the existing mall and the expanded [component].”

The developer has been able to create the desired seamless transition from old to new by retrofitting swathes of the facility: marble flooring, a canopy, and light and airy ceiling work have been added to the existing component to ensure that it blends in with the sleek white aesthetics of the newly-built sections of Manar Mall.

As any asset manager knows, an expansion job is a commercial challenge – perhaps not always due to the cost or technical complexity of the development, but certainly because all construction work needs to progress along a tight deadline, with minimal disruption for retailers and shoppers alike.

“You don’t want to shut down shops while they are operating, and you want to ensure there is minimum disruption, whilst also completing the work on time,” Ebrahimy explains.

“You don’t want drilling and hammering going on whilst shoppers are enjoying their time in the mall – they expect a certain ambiance and don’t want to be disturbed by construction noise.”

Al Hamra Real Estate Development was able to overcome this challenge through a means of crafty endeavours – for instance, construction scaffolding was covered by temporary wooden boards and painted white to blend in with the interior of the existing mall. This allowed the main contractor, Sun Engineering and Contracting – as well as its subcontractors – to complete a range of works on Manar Mall’s ceiling without disturbing shoppers. Noisy work, such as drilling, and all other construction activities that could disrupt the typical shopping experience were scheduled for the night.

In fact, a lot of construction work for the project has been completed outside the mall’s operating hours. Tools and equipment would be stored away before the mall would reopen for customers.

Ebrahimy says the expansion project was initiated due to rising demand from shoppers and retailers in Ras Al Khaimah.

“Manar Mall was the first international-style shopping centre that opened in the emirate, and it became the go-to-destination for shopping and for retail groups wanting to expand their footprint by entering Ras Al Khaimah,” he says.

READ: Main works for Phase 1 of $100m Manar Mall expansion completed

“When we decided to expand the mall, it was already nearly 100% full, and there was a lot of demand coming in from retailers for more space.”

While Manar Mall is being doubled in size, it will remain a two-storey structure, stretching outwards across the vast land bank owned by Al Hamra Group rather than rising upwards. This is because retailers want to be on the ground floor, stating that it’s where the most sales are made. It appears to have been an astute decision – Ebrahimy says 82% of the mall’s new gross leasable space has already been agreed. More negotiations and agreements are being made by Al Hamra Real Estate Development, with retailers looking to set up shop in Manar Mall before the expansion opens. With these numbers considered, up to 96% of the expanded mall will already have been leased when the project is complete.