Arabian Delight

What would a super-high-end jewelry mall in the wealthy United Arab Emirates look like? One Canadian firm has a suggestion: A fortresslike structure constructed of onyx, from which water cascades—like a free-standing water wall.

The firm is Watt International, Toronto, and its assignment—from a wealthy Arab sheik involved in retail development—was to draft plans for an exclusive jewelry mall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The sheik wanted a shopping environment suitable for royalty and limited to 15 of the world’s top luxury jewelry brands, including names like Chopard and Harry Winston. “In Arabic culture, jewelry is a gift given on all occasions,” says Andrew Gallici, Watt’s creative director. “It’s got huge cultural significance.”

As important as the mall itself is the experience of a visitor’s arrival there, an essential element of Arab culture. In Watt’s proposal, visitors would cruise down a long tree-lined drive into a camouflaged entrance; drivers would wait in an underground and air-conditioned parking garage. “This drive would be akin to the Champs Elysées in Paris or the Mall in London—as dramatic as the experience itself,” observes Gallici.

Although a discreet sign would be posted outside, the building would serve as its own billboard. “When you take something as precious as water [is to the Middle East], and douse your building in it, it becomes very obvious there’s something precious about the place,” says Gallici.

While Watt says the sheik was “awed” by the proposal, he’s yet to break ground on the mall because of other projects. Meanwhile, Watt, a 38-year-old retail design and branding firm with international experience with jewelry stores, is for hire. To create or redesign your own jewelry oasis, contact Watt at (416) 593-7254 or visit www.wattintl.com.