MAF Properties eyes Dh3bn project in Syria

Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Properties is planning an Dh3 billion ($817 million) shopping mall and office project in Syria, as it seeks new markets in the Middle East and North Africa outside Dubai.

The firm, famous for building an indoor ski slope in Dubai, and which typically enters markets with French retailer Carrefour as anchor tenant of its malls, will fund the project with its own financing and with banks in Syria, its chief executive said.

"It will be a Dh3 billion project, one million square metres of land, and will have a mall, hotels and office buildings," MAF Chief Executive Peter Walichnowski said on the sidelines of its 430-store Mirdif City Centre opening in Dubai.

Walichnowski said MAF, which is owned by UAE's billionaire businessman Majid Al Futtaim, is in talks to build large malls in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The company launched in Dubai yesterday.

The company has ten operating malls in the Middle East and North Africa and plans to more than double its portfolio by 2015 with 14 new projects in the UAE, Oman, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Walichnowski said the company's malls have shown resilience to the global economic crisis and did not see a significant drop in sales in 2009.

"We'll see more positive sentiment building up this year," he said.

The emirate is home to 40 malls including the world's largest shopping centre, Dubai Mall.


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