|Dubai - Galeries Lafayette to open branch at Dubai Mall|
|Galeries Lafayette SA, France's largest department-store operator, will open its first Middle East store in the United Arab Emirates' Dubai Mall, taking advantage of the Gulf's economic boom.
The Paris-based retailer signed an agreement to open a 192,000-square-foot department store, the largest in the UAE, according to a statement from Emaar Properties PJSC, which is building the mall.
Dubai Mall, expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2008, will have 5.8 million square feet of shopping space, making it one of the largest shopping centers in the world. Oil prices have more than doubled in the last five years, spurring an economic boom across the Persian Gulf, which pumps about a quarter of the world's oil.
"The choice of Dubai is fully in line with our decision to develop into an international chain," Galeries Lafayette Chairman Philippe Houze said in the statement. The retailer may next expand to Shanghai and Macau in China, he said.
Emaar Properties is the region's biggest real-estate developer. The company plans to develop 150 shopping centers in emerging markets, including the Middle East and South Asia, the statement said.
Dubai Mall will be bigger than Mall of the Emirates, which opened last year and is the largest shopping center outside North America.
Tiffany & Co., Harvey Nichols Plc and Hennes & Mauritz AB have all opened outlets in Mall of the Emirates.
Galeries Lafayette, founded in 1893 and known for its store on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, went private in 2005.
Marseille,03 26 2007
The Daily Star