Soon to be built Saudi Arabia Malls Cost $3.7 Billion, Include Indoor Ski Slope

By Staff Writer

Feb 09, 2016 11:00 PM EST

The Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim has rolled out plans worth 14 billion Saudi riyals ($3.73 billion) to build two large-scale shopping malls in Riyadh. One will include the world's largest snow park housing a ski slope which forms the current highlight.

Covering over 866,000 square meters, Mall of Saudi will be the kingdom's biggest entertainment and shopping area, featuring international luxury brands some of which hadn't stepped into kingdom before. The entertainment facilities and leisure activities include shops, restaurants, movie theaters, office spaces, luxury hotels, and serviced apartments. The blueprints are already in place with plans of completion pointing towards 2017.

"Saudi Arabia has the right fundamentals for the long-term," said Alain Bejjani, the chief executive officer of Majid Al Futtaim, according to Bloomberg. "It has a lot of resources, it has a very strong and declared will to diversify its economy and it also has a plan for reforms and to increase the contribution of private sector."

Being first of its kind, the ski slope has grabbed a lot of attention. However, whether the conservative kingdom laws would allow its women to enter the indoor snow park still remains a matter of debate. The company, though, claims that there would be no such restrictions.

The second one, Mall of City Centre Ishbiliyah covers 100,000 square meters and will house around 250 shops. The smaller project is due for completion in 2018. These plans are expected to boost the retail scene in Saudi Arabia despite slow economic growth due to sluggish oil prices prevailing in the world's leading oil exporting kingdom. "I see opportunities in challenges," Bejjani said at an event, as per Arab News, indicating the Saudi government will have improved the economic state of affairs through reform programs by the time the malls hit the completion date.

The kingdom's job opportunities are expected to increase manifold with the completion of the malls. Housing a huge number of commercial outlets, the two projects are expected to "deliver more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs to the capital," as represented by Gulf News. This is a much-needed breather in the face of the prolonged state of oil price slump.

Majid Al Futtaim has already set aside the funds as a part of their five-year plan and has no intentions of running into debt at any phase of the projects. The building permits are in place as well, indicating a timely roll-out of the construction's first phase which is scheduled to begin this year. 

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