Director of Al-Futtaim says region is anticipated to have 27,000 retail outlets by 2011

Investors and developers are being urged to look to the Middle East as a prime location for retail projects.

The market in the region has doubled from $200bn in 2003 to over $400bn in 2008, and it is anticipated to have 27,000 retail outlets by 2011.

Speaking at MAPIC, Philip Evans, director of Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate, said that in the Gulf Corporation Council area, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, 200 projects are planned for construction in the next five years. He added that the amount of leasable areas available in the Middle East for retail would have grown by 263% between 2006 and 2010.

He said: “The Middle East has emerged as a key market for retailers. There is a population of 310 million, which is expected to double by 2025, and investment in this region is increasing. Population is increasing, on average, by 2.8% a year, tourist numbers are going up by about 7% year on year and the market is not yet saturated.”

Evans talked specifically about Dubai - the third biggest city in terms of retail presence in the world after New York and London - and Saudi Arabia which shot up from 28th to 15th place in a Global Retailer Index between 2007 and 2008.