WWD reports Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah of Kuwait tapped the OMA to design his latest high-end megastore. Ten years after opening Kuwait’s Villa Moda Mall, a 100,000 square-foot space outside Kuwait City, which later proved to be a failed luxury retail experiment (Villa Moda franchised stores in Damascus,Syria and Cairo, Egypt also closed down less than 3 years from opening), Al-Sabah is courageously planning his return to the luxury world with a 86,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall, scheduled to open in 2014 inside Kuwait City’s 360° Mall.
Like the glass cube that is Villa Moda, the new department store will consist of transparent facades, punctuated by circular cutouts to let in natural light. Unlike the average high-end mall, however, its design and programming will pay homage to its surroundings: Corridor-shaped shops reflect “the geometry of the Middle East”.
“We want to introduce the future Elie Saabs and Zuhair Murads,” Al-Sabah told WWD. It’s a timely decision, in light of the Arab Spring uprisings. As a result of the region’s tumultuous political climate, there has been increased interest among denizens in local art and, consequently, local leisure activities as security concerns in cities like Beirut and Cairo have kept would-be travelers grounded.
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