(Corrects number of malls in paragraph 2 to 28, not 27, after clarification from company)
DUBAI (Reuters) -Middle East shopping mall operator Majid Al Futtaim said on Wednesday retail revenues in the United Arab Emirates in the latter part of 2021 are likely to exceed those seen before the pandemic, as more people are vaccinated and Dubai Expo 2020 begins.
Privately-held Majid Al Futtaim has 28 shopping centres, including in the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and franchisee rights for brands including Abercrombie & Fitch and Lululemon Athletica.
“We are seeing a very solid recovery in the brick and mortar spend on the shopping side,” Chief Executive Alain Bejjani said, speaking of the company’s retail performance in the UAE.
“The amount of spend is growing greater than the footfall growth so the reality is people are being more purposeful of going out to malls and are spending more when going out.”
In the fourth quarter this year, revenues should exceed the same period in 2019, before the pandemic struck, he said.
Bejjani, who did not provide figures, said retail revenue earned in the UAE was now close to 2019 levels.
Majid Al Futtaim’s UAE shopping centres include the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, which features an indoor ski slope. The company also has hotels and other assets including residential property.
The UAE has one of the fastest vaccination campaigns. Expo 2020, which officials expect will attract 25 million international and domestic visitors, runs from October until March.
Majid Al Futtaim’s Mall of Oman, located in the Gulf state’s capital Muscat and whose opening had been delayed by the pandemic, was set to open in September, Bejjani said.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by David Evans)