Roberto Santiago: Changing Paraiba’s Cityscape

The thriving economy of Brazil transformed its population distribution. The simple rural workers have changed to become city dwelling business people and entrepreneurs. Roberto Santiago is one of them, being able to find his success in the shopping and retail industry. Born in the city of Joao Pessoa, Roberto Santiago never imagined himself being a shopping mall tycoon someday. He initially worked as a writer, and as a proud Brazilian, he wrote things about his country. He became a reputable writer after writing a lot of articles about Brazil, and he garnered a lot of readers. When internet use became widespread, Roberto Santiago decided to put up his own blog and started writing online. His followers exponentially grew, and a small fan base started to rise. Aside from his writing stint, he also worked as a director, before finally becoming a shopping mall tycoon.


In 1987, Roberto Santiago found a vacant patch of lot in his home city of Joao Pessoa. He immediately contacted the person who wanted to sell the lot, and he purchased it. He is thinking on how he should develop the patch of lot, and then the idea of developing it into a mall crossed his mind. Two years later, the Manaira Mall opened to the public, and it became a crowd favorite. It was considered to be the largest mall in the state of Paraiba at that time, and up until this day, no one have beaten the record held by Manaira Mall for decades. Since they opened in 1989, the mall has gone under several renovations and expansion. One of the most recent expansions inside the mall is the creation of the Gourmet Section, opened in 2014. The Gourmet Section has a collection of restaurants serving different dishes from around the world. Roberto Santiago is inviting chefs and restaurant owners around the world to visit his mall and try setting up their branches inside the Manaira Mall. The first restaurant which heeded his call was the Capital Steak House. The restaurant became an instant hit among mall goers, because of the delicious food that they serve.


The mall is divided into sections – the food court, cinemas, entertainment areas, bowling alley, game stations, parks, financial institutions, fitness centers, and even an educational institution. On the mall’s rooftop sits the Domus Hall, known all throughout Brazil because of its popularity among international artists. The hall can seat 8,000 people, and it has the latest equipment producing high quality audio and sound.


The Manaira Mall is not just a symbol of Paraiba’s economic rise, but it also symbolizes the socialization and hospitality of the local people. The mall has been a part of the daily lives of the locals, and everything they need is found inside. Presently, Roberto Santiago is planning to build another mall, hoping that it will be as successful as the Manaira Mall.



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