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Lavish malls become fancy destinations for families
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 02 - 2015

Saudi Gazette report

VISIT any major city in the Kingdom and one of the first things that become apparent is the sheer number of malls both in operation and under construction: massive air-conditioned complexes with hundreds of stores selling everything from luxury brands to imported ice cream are open all over the country.

While the malls perform the obvious role of catering to the varied tastes of Saudi shoppers, an increasing number of people prefer to meet at malls where they can spend time at cafes and restaurants, Al-Riyadh daily reports.

Citizen Ziyad Al-Shawshan said malls are the number one choice for people who want to go shopping and hang out together and have fun. Children can also enjoy arcade games and even rides while their parents or older siblings meet with friends.

The only time of the year when people don't go to malls a lot is the winter. Most people prefer to go out camping in the desert and enjoy the weather in the open air instead of staying indoors.

Citizen Salih Al-Awadhi also said families flock to malls on weekends because they do not have any other alternative. “There are no entertainment places except malls. They have become so popular that even driving to malls has become difficult because of traffic jams on the roads close to malls.
The situation gets worse during holidays and weekends,” Al-Awadhi said.

Housewife Afrah Al-Maiman said the harsh desert climate in the Kingdom is one of the reasons why many people flock to malls.

“Malls are air-conditioned, clean, safe and above all offer a variety of options to shoppers. There should be similar alternatives for families but until then, people will continue to seek the cool comfort of malls,” Al-Maiman said.

Citizen Abdulmajeed Al-Fawzan said there is a fierce competition among malls to attract the largest number of people of different ages and nationalities.

“In some cities, families who want to relax and take a break from their daily lives have only one option: malls. There are no other alternatives and malls are capitalizing on this demand,” he added.

Housewife Al-Anoud Al-Salhi said municipalities should construct entertainment projects for children and families such as amusement parks, which are limited in the country.

“These places should be covered to give privacy to families. Riyadh has several similar projects that proved to be successful. Other cities should follow suit and build similar projects all over the country. The most important thing is such projects should meet the needs of all family members including women, children and men,” Al-Jarallah said.

Umm Wateen, housewife, said most restaurants do not have areas where children can play while their families eat.

“This is why families prefer malls because they can kill two birds with one stone – they can eat peacefully while keeping a close eye on their children as they play. I personally prefer malls to other places because my children enjoy their time there more,” she said.

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