Dubai’s Souk Al Marfa: Vacant stores, few visitors worry shoppers about mall’s future

Estimated read time 2 min read

Souk Al Marfa in Dubai. ARCHIVE

Empty stores and dwindling visitors have some mallgoers worried about the future of Dubai’s Souk Al Marfa along the Dubai Islands waterfront.

“Stores are closing, few people are visiting. It used to be busy but now it’s like a ghost town,” mallgoer Marissa (full name withheld) told Expat Media.

According to reports, there are talks that the mall may soon be shut down or relocated. Expat Media could not immediately confirm this with mall management.

When it opened in 2021, Souk Al Marfa boasted more than 400 stores. However, it faced challenges, including limited public transport and the isolation of the development on Deira Islands. Now, the once bustling waterfront shopping centre is deserted by all but a few tenants, food vendors and shoppers. The RTA bus service to the venue has reportedly been discontinued.

A shopkeeper said mall management has offered remaining tenants alternative shops in Dragon Mart and Waterfront Market. Some tenants are reportedly on their last few weeks. Shoppers noted that the signage on the mall has been removed, and there are no road signages indicating the location to the souq. Meanwhile, its Instagram and Facebook accounts have remained inactive since October 2023.

This has further fueled speculations about redevelopment plans, which also gained credence after Souk Al Marfa failed to feature in recent redevelopment plans for Dubai Islands. According to plans released by master developer Nakheel, Deira Island will feature waterfront villas, resorts, an art and cultural district, parks and a golf course.

Souk Al Marfa is the latest Dubai venue to be closed for redevelopment. Last year, Nakheel announced that it was redeveloping The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah and gave shopkeepers until May 2024 to vacate. In 2022, La Mer was shut down to create a new J1 beach development. ICA/Expat Media

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