Oman


MGM upbeat over new projects


Hassan Jaboob

Muscat: Muscat Grand Mall already has a cinema with Oman's first VIP theatre and the biggest food court in Oman, but its general manager, Hassan Jaboob, wants to offer a lot more firsts, so there are many new developments in the works.

The Muscat Grand Mall (MGM) opened to the public in March with just a few stores, but as the year progressed so too did the mall. It now has 110 retail outlets, with more set to open, entertainment facilities, apartments, office space, and it is home to the Hi and Hala FM radio stations. In the coming months and years, MGM will have even more to offer its customers, including more stores and restaurants, a hotel, Oman's biggest spa, rooftop dining, and a skating rink, Jaboob told Times of Oman.

"There are a lot of new elements here coming to Oman for the first time. You need to differentiate yourself and your project. You need to offer the market new things. We have to work hard to bring something new and give Omanis the chance to have these things here," says Jaboob, sitting in the recently opened Tim Hortons coffee shop at MGM.

Some of the other retailers that will soon open include Homes R Us, which will be the biggest store in MGM, and more dining outlets including the French-style bistro Paul, Chili's, and Elevation Burger. By early 2013 there will also be some restaurants and cafes opening on the roof, offering their customers stunning views.

"We have around 25 shops to open in the next few months. We're now at 90 percent leased," Jaboob says.

But in 2013, MGM will have a lot more than shops to keep its customers busy. It is set to become much more than mall. It will be a place to shop, eat, find entertainment, work out, work and even live. From apartments and office space, to stores and a skating rink, MGM will have something for everyone, says Jaboob.

One of the developments under construction is a gym and spa on the fourth floor, which includes three outdoor swimming pools. Once completed it will be the biggest gym in Oman, Jaboob says.

The fourth floor also features a 17,000 square metre garden and terrace area, which is the first of its kind in Oman. It's already being enjoyed by residents and community groups to whom the mall donates the space for events that promote health, sports, education, and art. On Thursday, for example, it hosted a "street art" event, and the week before the Abada Capoeira group used it.

"We plan to host a lot of future events there as part of our corporate social responsibility initiative," Jaboob explains.

Inside the mall, Jaboob also plans to introduce a "mall-walking" floor plan that will included measured tracks that people can walk along and know how far they've gone. It will be ideal on hot summer days when it's too warm for people to exercise outside, he says.

MGM also features 30,000 square metres of office space, half of which is occupied by Nawras, which has its headquarters there. For business travellers, MGM will soon open hotel apartments.

There are also 245 flats above the mall, ranging from one to three bedrooms. Some of them have already been leased, and their occupants like the convenience of living at MGM, Jaboob explains.

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