Westgate Shopping Mall, the venue of Saturday’s massacre, is a premier complex frequented by wealthy locals and expatriates.
It is one of the many malls that have come up in Nairobi and the country.
The six-year-old shopping centre is located on Mwanzi Road in Westlands, one of Nairobi’s exclusive neighbourhoods, near another popular mall – Sarit Centre, and competing for the same customers with the Village Market, The Junction and Prestige malls, all in Nairobi.
Westgate, which sits on 350,000 square feet, houses more than 80 outlets that offer clothes, shoes, food and entertainment services. The cost of one square foot of retail space is estimated to range from Sh30,000 to Sh35,000.
One of its most popular attractions is the 110,000-square-feet Nakumatt superstore.
Waterfalls, gardens, golden railings, ornate lamps, marble stairway, escalators and panorama glass highlight the interior of the mall that houses international brands such as Nike, Adidas, Converse, Identity, Ivory, Kache by Angie and Woolworths, Mocca, Little Soles, Sir Henry’s and Mr Price.
A myriad services are available too: banking, pharmaceutical, photography, courier and beauty and dry-cleaning, with stores being open every day from 8am to 8pm.
Westgate Shopping Mall is a place where people all ages and races visit. This reflects the worldwide inclination whereby malls are developing into places of social comfort.
The Kids Corner is a fun area for children while Planet Media Cinemas Complex and Media Store houses a movie hall, besides selling video games, DVDs, CDs, books and magazines.
There is also the famous Millionaires Casino which boasts of 95 slot machines, 12 tables and a VIP Poker Room. The mall experience isn’t complete without the food courts.
Galito’s which sells grilled chicken and Pizza Inn are frequented by Nairobi residents.
Then, there is ArtCaffe which has four full-service restaurant cafes, two bakeries, an exclusive private dining room for events, and a mini café. The mall also house two coffee bars - Dormans and Java which are popular weekend hangouts joints.
Creamy Inn, Onami Restaurant and Sub Zone are just a few of other joints with branches in the mall.
However, yesterday wasn’t the first time the shopping centre has been associated with a security incident.
In July last year, two Iranian terror suspects were arraigned in court on accusations of possessing explosives. Ahmed Mohamud and Said Mausud had been found with 15 kilogrammes of RDX explosives.
International media quoted the Israeli minister who said that the two Iranians had planned to attack Israeli, American, British or Saudi targets inside Kenya.
Westgate Shopping Mall is one of several Israeli-owned businesses in Kenya.