Over the past decade, the retail sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has achieved an annual growth in excess of 10 per cent. The Kingdom is likely to witness an even bigger increase over the coming years following the billions of dollars in planned investments. For example, an $800 billion plan has been drawn up to double the size of Riyadh alone, taking it from a current population of seven million to 15 million within the next decade. This further substantiates plans to transform the capital into an artistic, economic, social and cultural hub for the Middle East.
As part of the aspirational Saudi Vision 2030, to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and to diversify the economy, the country is committed to building a thriving economy and vibrant society that improves the quality of life and empowers its citizens.
Achieving this will depend greatly on the retail entertainment sector and its ability to attract modern, local, regional and international brands that all contribute to the economy, through modern trade and experience.
Along with these ambitious plans, it is safe to say that COVID-19 has irreversibly changed the way that the retail industry will operate in the future. The pandemic has caused a massive decline in the sector over the past few months, with footfall and sales dropping due to the closure of retail projects and the movement restrictions implemented across the world.
This has led to an increase in e-commerce that is now firmly part of the portfolio and means savvy retailers now need to look for ways to encourage shoppers back into malls if they are to strike a balance between bricks and mortar and online sales. This is without a doubt the key to ongoing development.
There are many ways in which retail destinations can be adapted to drive consumers back while still adhering to social distancing measures. Outdoor and drive-through shopping experiences are becoming popular in some countries, with this a trend that is likely to continue growing in the coming years. Retail developments such as Riyadh Front in the heart of the Kingdom’s capital city are already ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering the future of retail and display many of the design considerations brought forward by the pandemic.
Riyadh Front, the new development by Kaden Investment Company, for example, is a multi-use destination that directly contributes to the economic, cultural and societal pillars of the esteemed Saudi Vision 2030.
The first-of-its-kind development changes the way people experience destinations and is also pioneering outdoor retail lifestyle hubs in the region.
Creating an outdoor retail destination is not something that has typically been seen in Saudi Arabia, as shopping experiences with indoor air comfort and privacy are usually key components.
By contrast, this development was designed by CallisonRTKL (CRTKL) to be an innovative outdoor retail resort in the Saudi capital – one that integrates smart architecture and human-centeric design.
Here, state-of-the-art modular offices, stunning green spaces, and water features are hosted alongside world-class shopping, entertainment and dining experiences. As a result, Riyadh Front becomes more engaging and attractive for visitors, creating a dynamic environment that excites its patrons with something different on offer in every direction – from the luxury and wellness plazas, to the entertainment court and central town square. This unique lifestyle destination is actively driving tourism and curating entertainment experiences for all ages.
The project is also contributing to the strength of a growing retail sector and paving the way for unique infrastructure and entertainment solutions.
As KSA’s retail and entertainment sector regains its footing and prepares for a prosperous future following its pandemic recovery, we will see more innovation in this area and culture and entertainment brought to the forefront.
Riyadh Front is just the beginning, with this now triggering an onset of new and exciting mega-developments that promise to transform the future of business and leisure in the Kingdom.
Outdoor retail and entertainment destinations will be what tempts consumers back to physical shops, with the design principles demonstrated here a solution for both the current social distancing requirements and the Kingdom’s modern retail movement.