Dubai launches Mall of the World plan

Dubai is bundling a lot of “world firsts” for the Mall of the World development – its most ambitious project since the emirate’s economic revival began in earnest since early 2012.

The project is to be the retail and hospitality showpiece development for the Expo 2020 in Dubai, alongside the planned mega convention centre and related infrastructure that will be rolling out of the design board shortly.

The Mall of the World is to be located along Shaikh Zayed Road. But in its conceptualization, the project – which will be managed by Dubai Holding - will be nothing less than a city-within-a-city and also include 100 hotels.

The development will be staggered along multiple phases. The cost of the build-up has not been revealed.

Apart from being the largest mall in the making by occupying 8 million square feet, it is being billed as the world’s first “temperature-controlled (pedestrian) city” and with a 48 million square feet spread. This will be through a glass dome enclosure that will be open up during the winter months, a high season for the city’s retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. On completion, it will be a year-round destination that is projected to pull in 180 million visitors annually.

“This project complements our plans to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the 2 billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision,” said His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in a statement announcing the launch.

“The growth in family and retail tourism underpins the need to enhance Dubai’s tourism infrastructure as soon as possible.”

“We are confident of our economy’s strength, optimistic about our country’s future and we continue to broaden our vision.”

The Mall of the World would also host the world’s largest indoor theme park. And unlike the big-box design concepts in vogue in the global mall industry, the new development’s design ethos will be that of a “retail street network” stretching to over 7 kilometres.

Merging the twin pursuits of shopping and leisure living, the Mall of the World’s retail area will have connectivity to 100 hotels and serviced apartment properties offering up a combined 20,000 room keys.

“Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism - tourism is key driver of our economy and we aim to make the UAE an attractive destination all-year long,” Shaikh Mohammad was quoted in the launch statement. “This is why we will start working on providing pleasant temperature-controlled environments during the summer months.”

Over the last decade, Dubai developers’ retail development strategy has been to bring about as much of synergy as is possible with the leisure and entertainment aspects of living.

The Mall of the World super-sizes these synergies even more. A full-scale ‘Wellness District” thus is integrated into the masterplan, and this would take up 3 million square feet. Future tenants in this cluster will offer not just cosmetic and wellness treatments but top-of-the-line health care, including specialized surgical procedures.

This will also be where the ‘Dubai Cultural District’ will be anchored. Again, the developer is eyeing for touchstones similar to what a visitor would see in London’s West End of New York’s Broadway.

It will have the ‘Celebration Walk’, akin to Barcelona’s Ramblas Street. There will be direct connectivity from the cultural cluster – which will offer a mix of conference, celebration and even wedding halls - to the rest of the mall.

Dubai’s economic turnaround was fast-tracked by retail and hospitality twinned with the ever expanding reach of Emirates airline and its jumbo-sized order book. With the Mall of the World announcement, Dubai is creating the projects that would drive these sectors forward until the Expo 2020 looms closer on the horizon.

“This project is a product of extensive research studying international and regional tourists’ requirements and preferences,” said Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Chairman of Dubai Holding, which is the entity developing the Mall.

“The objective is to create an integrated city with a plethora of best-in-class options within pleasant environments. The project will be developed in phases in alignment with the gradual growth of family tourism in Dubai.”

“The Mall will once again give a huge fillip to the image of Dubai as a shopping destination,” said Ajai Dayal, who heads TriDayle, a specialist consultancy. “Today, the crown is with The Dubai Mall but there are challengers from other markets being born each year. “With Mall of the World, that pre-eminent status will remain with Dubai for a long time to come.”

Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.comGN


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