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Shopping at the “street level” is perhaps today’s biggest trend in the retail landscape across the world. This open-air setup, which is reportedly attracting more people than indoor malls, has urged property developers to rethink their tried-and-tested strategies to meet the consumers’ current needs. This is even incorporated into residential developments, providing residents with the whole nine yards when it comes to convenient and comfortable living.
In the UAE, real estate developers are churning out not only mega malls but also outdoor retail hubs. The latter adds dining and entertainment to the scene, with sidewalks and lots of open spaces. It generally exudes a trendy vibe, and unlike traditional malls, it instills a sense of community.
Popular outdoor lifestyle hubs in Dubai are The Walk, The Beach and Marina Walk within the vast Dubai Marina community. These venues are dotted with eateries, boutiques, cinemas, play areas and large outdoor spaces for weekend markets, musical performances and art exhibits.
Downtown Dubai’s Mohammad bin Rashid Boulevard is a long stretch of avenue flanked by restaurants and cafes, and peppered with luxury hotels and standalone retail shops. It is a venue for parades and car shows.
Numerous lifestyle destinations have also revitalised the old Al Wasl area, with City Walk, Boxpark, Wasl Vita, The Galleria and Wasl Square, featuring retail shops and food and beverage outlets, calling it their home.
Canal Walk and Festival Marina at Dubai Festival City are ideal for those who prefer less crowds. The retail-dining venues include a canal where one can take an abra ride and a waterfront where yachts are moored.
In Abu Dhabi, the Corniche is where almost everyone converges on weekends. Offering many activities, it is filled with cafes and restaurants.
In Sharjah, the Al Majaz Waterfront and Al Qasba, though uniquely different, offer a mix of leisure, dining and retail options for the family.
More outdoor hubs are in the offing as they increasingly gain popularity.
* Boardwalk, Riverland, Akoya Drive are upcoming outdoor hubs
* Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba are Sharjah’s famous hangouts
* Dubai has many outdoor spots that marry shopping and dining
Source: Ellen Joyce Soriano, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer