Oman’s retail sector shows robust growth potential, driven by demand from both residents and the country’s expanding tourism industry. A robust growth in population, growing employment opportunities and a better disposable income are also driving demand for retail space. Apart from growing salary levels of locals, the number of people earning income in a family also increased in recent years. Muscat is seeing some of the highest growth figures, driven by an influx of expatriates, which account for over 60 per cent of the total population of the governorate. Oman’s population crossed the four million mark in 2014. A massive growth in new retail space will be seen in the market over the next four to five years, which could include malls, supermarkets, hypermarkets and department stores.
Several retail chains are trying to tap this demand by building mega malls and other retail facilities. A significant volume of new retail space is set to enter the market over the next five years, across a mix of both mall-based and master plan developments. Four major players – Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), Lulu Hypermarket (Avenue Mall), Muscat Grand Mall, and Marsa Village Retail Centre – are adding most of the mall space. Majid Al Futtaim Properties, a leading business house in the Gulf region, is set to invest RO180 million to build the country’s biggest mall in Muscat as part of its ambitious expansion plans in the region. Oman’s new shopping and entertainment destination is expected to generate 1,500 jobs for its construction and a further 3,500 jobs once opened and will enhance the Sultanate’s retail and entertainment offering for both residents and tourists. Construction of the mall on a 157,000 square-metre land, which will house 350 stores, is expected to start this year and will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017. The UAE retail chain also plans to build another mall – My City Centre Sur – which will add 16,000 square metres of gross leasable area to the country’s burgeoning retail sector. Anticipated to open in the first half of 2017, the estimated investment for the project is RO12 million. My City Centre Sur will be the first My City Centre in Oman in addition to City Centre Muscat and City Centre Qurum, owned by Majid Al Futtaim. Tailored to suit the individual needs of residents, My City Centre Sur acts as a social hub for the immediate community, housing 50 retail outlets, including a Carrefour hypermarket as well as a significant mix of leading brands and casual dining options. The whole idea is to tap the market in interior regions. Being a community mall, My City Centre Sur will be a great added value to the surrounding communities and offer an exceptional array of shopping, fashion and dining options. The new mall is located on Sur’s main commercial road, and is set to be a key destination for both residents and the growing number of tourists visiting this coastal city famed for its dhow shipyards, and nearby beaches and wadis. Majid Al Futtaim has been in Oman since 2001 and built the first mall in the capital, the Muscat City Centre. The company also owns and operates Qurum City Centre. Muscat City and Qurum City centres are being redeveloped and expanded at a cost of RO30 million.
The Lulu Hypermarket, which opened its Avenue Mall at Bausher, offers a total leasable area of 80,000 square metres with more than 205 retail outlets. The mall can accommodate more than 200 brands under its roof. The five -storeyed mall with 80,000 square metres of leasable area, a wide variety of retail stores and a host of facilities, is home to a mix of local, high-street and posh international brands. The mall, which anticipated around 40,000 to 50,00 people every day, also has around 3,400 parking bays divided equally between the basement and the surface parking to help shoppers. A symbiotic blend catering to the needs of shopping enthusiasts on the one hand and entertainment seekers on the other, the mall showcases an array of new as well as prominent brands from across the world. Comprising a large food court with popular names serving cuisine from all over the world and a well-equipped play area for the comfort of children, the mall has amenities to suit the needs of all shoppers and also includes the existing 20,000-square metre Lulu hypermarket for all the daily needs. The mall also has extensive facilities for party halls, a convention centre and one of the largest health clubs in the Sultanate.Muscat Grand Mall (MGM), the first major mall that opened in 2012 has started work on its second phase expansion – a positive reflection of retail performance. The Tilal Complex, which houses MGM along with other residential units, is planning to add 80 per cent more space to its existing facility at Bausher, taking the total area to 250,000 square metres of space from 140,000 square metres now. The retail part alone will almost double – from 65,000 square metres to 120,000 square metres – and the number of retail outlets will go up to 250 from 145 now.
In yet another development, the retail supply at the Wave is also set to grow from the current 1,500 square metres to over 12,000 square metres, with the development of Marsa Village Retail Centre, which will offer 10,850 square metres of retail and commercial space for lease, and will be anchored by luxury UK supermarket concept Waitrose with their 1,500 square metre-store. Apart from major players, KM Trading, Mars Hypermarket, Al Maya Supermarket, Fathima Group, and Karama Hypermarket have been trying to further strengthen their presence across the country, with a series of expansion plans.