Mark Small, Middle East technical director who oversaw the design and construction of this much anticipated Abu Dhabi mall and leisure destination, tells the story.

Malls in the Middle East are more than places to shop – they are all-round leisure destinations for socialising and recreation in spacious, cool environments that provide a welcome contrast to the heat of the desert, particularly during the summer months. We were appointed by Gulf Related, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi based Gulf Capital and the US real estate firm, Related Companies, for the expansion of The Galleria Al Maryah Island’s high-end mall. In 2014 we started on the designs to triple it in size to create a giant, 2.8m ft2 indoor dining and entertainment emporium with 70 new restaurants, entertainment spaces including a 21-screen VOX Cinema, children’s play area and three urban rooftop parks in addition to 270 new shops.

Our input was significant, with a long list of disciplines, including civils and infrastructure, highways, sustainability for the design phase, acoustics, audio visual, IT, security, MEP and fire. The design was led from our Sharjah office supported by the CRC in India, with a small team on site from late 2015. (I myself joined the project in June 2016).