Majid Al-Futtaim harnesses neuroscience to empower mixed-use development agenda


Majid Al-Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, has unveiled the results of a neuroscience study designed to identify the most powerful drivers behind emotional attachment to urban developments and communities.

Conducted by Neurons Inc. and commissioned by Majid Al-Futtaim, the UAE-based study used electroencephalography (EEG) and eye tracking technology to measure how participants subconsciously as well as consciously responded to nearly 100 images of urban developments and landscapes from around the world. Over 1 million data points were then analyzed to determine the findings.

Neuroscientists found the elements of everyday human activity (a visual focus in 80 percent of the 10 best performing images), greenery (70 percent), artistic features (50 percent) and bright colors (50 percent) were the most powerful drivers of emotional engagement with destinations and environments.

An emphasis was put on greenery, which was naturally landscaped and positioned in a way that provided a sense of human scale and privacy. The first of its kind study also highlighted a subconscious preference for shades of blue and green in design and artistic features that people can interact with and embrace natural materials.

The strongest negative responses were recorded in images that displayed a visible lack of human interaction and natural landscapes. Dirt and damage were also shown to have an immediate negative and lasting impact on participants. 

The announcement comes as the governments across the region continue to place significant emphasis on transformative policies and practices for the real estate sector in a bid to drive economic diversity.

Hawazen Esber, chief executive of Majid Al-Futtaim — communities, said: “Historically, researchers and developers have focused on the conscious drivers of preference for real estate design and development. In a testament to the region’s progressive take on the transformation of the real estate sector, our unique neuroscience research study enables a deeper understanding of what subconsciously drives emotional value and a sense of belonging for our customers and the wider community.” 

He added: “The study helps us identify crucial elements that make for happy, healthy communities and become the foundation for how we bring our integrated retail, leisure and entertainment offering to design mixed-use destinations that drive holistic value for residents and surrounding communities.”