The Mega Malls of Data

11th July 2019

We are currently in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, thanks to digitalisation, and we are anticipating the most significant societal changes in our history yet, but just how high can our expectations go? After all, it is in our nature to seek out ways to achieve more and experience better but with less time and effort.

Is retail dead?
Technology still has this image that it is merely what you can do with your smartphone, in the same way that consumerism is still associated with what you can buy. We fail to see how technology is quickly integrating into everything we do and the reason why? It makes us feel a tad uneasy.

We are becoming more and more empowered to demand what we need from our everyday experiences, our homes, our workspace and our transport

pushing creators of the built environment to explore the solutions that technology can offer in accommodating our rising expectations. A good example is when a new mall is designed; it’s now less focused on retail and more focused on entertainment, dining and the experiences that will keep us there for longer.

Traditionally malls were a place for us to see what new products our favourite brands have to offer, get all of our errands done at once and grab a bite to eat. We can do that all on our smartphones now, saving us a lot of time in comparison. As our head of Smart Places, Matthew Marson says “Retail isn’t dead, just how we experience it is”.

It’s safe to say that the current mega malls that have VR parks, Michelin Star restaurants, healthcare and interactive shopping are the malls that will survive the change to retail as we know it, but what about beyond that?

If you need to know one thing about Middle East innovation, its that anything seems possible

and malls are no exception. Dubai is home to the biggest mall in the world, simply named The Dubai Mall which boasts the worlds biggest fish tank (and yes, you can swim with the sharks), with the world’s largest screen mounted wall above it and a 26 screen 2D – 4D movie theatre. The Mall of Emirates in Dubai has the worlds largest indoor ski slope, and the Mall of Qatar runs a summer camp for children and around the clock live performances.

It doesn’t stop there, demand from our malls is only increasing. The under-construction Cityland Mall in Dubai will have a huge park right in the centre, Reem Island Mall in Abu Dhabi will have the worlds largest indoor snow play venue and Kuwait’s Al Kout Mall is adding a go-kart track.


What else do we want from our malls of the future?
The truth is we can only guess what we may need or expect from a shopping mall in the future. One thing, though, is clear – if designed well, our malls could learn with us, they can adapt to the changes in our expectations, to the needs of the community around it and offer us an experience that is tailored to each and every individual. They can be a hub for families, business teams, sports fanatics, art lovers and foodies, whoever we are and whatever we love will determine the malls of the future, and it’s our behaviour now that will make all the difference.

Data is the key
Our personal data, our recordable habits, our interests and our dislikes are easily captured and hold the key to success not just for shopping malls but for workplaces, hospitals, hotels and even supermarkets. The more companies can learn about their customers or clients, the better the service they can offer, and the better the experience will be for us. So, if you could have a nearby megamall with everything you like, the way you like it in exchange for your data, would you be willing to trade?

Are you willing to embrace technology and data being the very veins of our malls, our homes and our workplaces?

If not, can we accept a future that doesn’t quite live up to the standards we are likely to expect?

In anticipating the future, we would be foolish not to acknowledge we have to be comfortable with our data being up for grabs by anyone. Either that or we get left behind.