Nancy Ozbek leads the mall’s newest and most promising project to date.
Meet Nancy Ozbek, mega retail professional and General Manager of Times Square Center in Dubai. As Ozbek looks after the Center’s newest development, Picnic Square, she introduces its unique aim to become the ‘beating heart’ of the mall and one stop shop for all. Below, Contributing Editor, Reefaya Noortaj learns more about the team’s motives behind the development of the emerging F&B hub.
One of Dubai’s key city features is its gigantic breathtakingly impressive malls that sets this unique country’s tourism apart from other countries. Malls in the UAE are one of its driving and unwavering economic revenue streams, from consisting of luxury to mid-tier brands in almost all major malls across the region. Malls are a part of the travel experience for tourists, placing Dubai’s palatial-like malls as one of its top tourist attractions. To put this into perspective, a 2017 KPMG report stated that 11% of GDP in 2015 rose with malls being the key contributors. Dubai Mall alone contributed to 5% of the GDP of Dubai, while all retail and wholesale trade made up 30% of the Emirate’s GDP in 2017. Aside from malls being major contributors to the Emirate’s economy, there’s more to meet the eye for residents and tourists when they enter lavish out-of-the-world malls in the UAE. Malls here offer items, resources, goods, food, abundant lifestyle choices and entertainment for people of various backgrounds. This is an indisputable strategy unique to the UAE, where malls have become a center-point for everyone.
With COVID-19 still punching a pack at MENA’s economy, somehow malls in the UAE have taken a sharp turn in dodging the pandemics economic effects. Malls have set up temperature screening and mandatory wearing masks in public places and maintained strict social distancing rules. Times Square Center for example, supervised by Nancy Ozbek is leading its newly refurbished, sustainable and energy-efficient food court area, called Picnic Square with a family-focused audience.
Nancy has held numerous leadership roles across countless renowned malls and community centers in the U.A.E. A notable role was her Senior Head of Leasing in Nakheel’s Ibn Battuta Mall, where she provided oversight and project management on all project initiatives across the mall including the second phase of the mall. Additionally, she implemented a successful sustainability action plan and concluded 275 renewals at Ibn Battuta back in 2009. She was also the Head of Leasing at Deerfield’s Town Square Centre in Abu Dhabi, looking over the development at its initial stage where she leased 65% of the outlets and then reached 85% at the time of its formal opening. As Times Square Centre newly launches its ‘Picnic Square,’ Nancy leads the project by introducing its unique aim to become the ‘beating heart’ of the mall with beautifully designed table arrangements, greenery, children’s play areas and wide-open spaces to conjure a feeling of brightness and freshness for visitors.
The economic and emotional motives behind attracting residents and tourists to visit malls are to prioritize abundant personalized consumption, connections, convenience, services and prices and visual pleasure. The Picnic Square project meets all of the factors mentioned for a mall to be successful in the UAE: artisanal interior, deli-style restaurants and cafes and innovative family-focused spaces. Time Square Centre is specifically looking for family-focused F&B vendors since the UAE encourages familial activities and values as a part of the nation’s wider culture. “We have been strategically executing our transformation into an appealing community-style destination over the last 12 months and Picnic Square is the final piece of the puzzle. Watching it all come together is extremely satisfying,” says Nancy.
“We are a family-focused mall but also a female-empowered team and we want that to spill out into the “mumpreneur” brands that take the risk and choose to open a tiny space in our mall without feeling competition from any of the more established, female-owned brands, such as Eggs & Soldiers, Malaak, Naya Yoga & Pilates Studio or Kids Palooza. There is space for everyone at our Picnic Table” adds Nancy.
The UAE has been ranked amongst the top five countries worldwide for the consumer purchasing power of luxury goods, clothes, and accessories. The country strives to keep the connection between upper social class purchasing power with its society through malls that boast both emerging and developed businesses. Due to the UAE’s ecological biome, the country has successfully transformed every convenient space into fully air-conditioned places for people to enjoy activities with ease.
About The Editor
Born in Bangladesh and raised in the Middle East, UAE and Bahrain, Reefaya is a postgraduate from The London School of Economics in U.K. and an undergraduate from Sussex University. Reefaya has an immense love for sustainable fashion, social development and art.