Dubai – with its usual commensurate timing of announcing the ‘worlds biggest’ releasing a torrent of floorspace on the market, just at the same time as property professionals are telling me we have now reached the peak of the cycle. (the Q2 reports are about to be made pubic). This can and will only end in tears. I don’t know what the inspiration for the design was – watching Blade Runner and playing too much Bioshock 2 maybe. A back of the envelopeclaculation shows that a 27 lane freeway is needed to serve the development at least (retail alone, let alone the hotels, residential offices etc.), the road it is on has 16, and a Metro with no spare capacity, let alone capacity for anything else. This is not even the only development of similar scale planned along this corridor. There are several. It simply doesn’t work and there is no strategy to make it work as the current plan for Dubai only runs to 2020 and simply proposes building out the backlog from the last recession.
Mall of the World (Facts & figures)
> Location: Shaikh Zayed Road
> Total area: 48 million sqft
> Hotel rooms: 20,000
> Expected visitors: 180 million annually
> Celebration centre: 15,000 revellers
> Wellness district: 3million sqft
Dubai will don yet another jewel in its crown when the world’s first temperature-controlled city, Mall of the World, comes up along Shaikh Zayed Road.
Occupying a total area of 48 million square feet, the project launched on Saturday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will comprise the largest indoor theme park in the world, which will be covered by a glass dome that will open during the winter months.
The project will also house the largest shopping mall in the world with an area of eight million square feet, which will take the form of an extended retail street network, different to the typical shopping mall concept currently available in Dubai. Additional districts within the project will include a wellness zone catering to medical tourists, a cultural celebration district as well as a wide range of hospitality options comprising 20,000 hotel rooms catering to all types of tourists.
Once completed, the City is projected to become a year-round destination, welcoming around 180 million visitors annually. “The growth in family and retail tourism underpins the need to enhance Dubai’s tourism infrastructure as soon as possible. This project complements our plans to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision,” Shaikh Mohammed said.
In the presence of Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of Dubai Holding; Ahmad bin Byat, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Holding; and Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director-General of the Protocol Department, Shaikh Mohammed confirmed the need to work towards achieving Dubai’s ambitious tourism vision.
The new project, developed by Dubai Holding, will introduce an innovative concept of an integrated pedestrian city connected to the mall and offering a wide range of leisure, retail, cultural, wellness, recreation and hospitality options under one roof.“Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism. Tourism is the key driver of our economy and we aim to make the UAE an attractive destination all year long. This is why we will start working on providing pleasant temperature-controlled environments during the summer months. We are confident of our economy’s strength, optimistic about our country’s future and we continue to broaden our vision,” added Shaikh Mohammed.
Tourists will be able to enjoy a week-long stay without the need to leave the city or use a car. The 7km long promenades connecting all facilities will be covered during the summer and open during the winter, ensuring pleasant temperatures throughout the year.
The project will see the addition of 100 hotels and serviced apartments buildings, including 20,000 hotel rooms, to Dubai’s hospitality sector. The project will include designated parking areas with a capacity to host up to 50,000 cars on the ground level.
Dubai Cultural District will be the hub for national and multinational cultural festivities and events in the UAE. A dedicated theatre district with host of venues similar to some of the world’s most renowned landmarks such as London’s West End and New York’s Broadway. The Celebration Walk, similar to the Ramblas Street in Barcelona will connect the cultural district to the rest of the Mall. Dubai Cultural District will include a range of conference, wedding and celebration halls with a capacity to host thousands of revellers, befitting the multicultural social fabric of Dubai.
“Mall of the World presents an innovative concept in the international hospitality sector, further strengthening Dubai’s appeal as a tourism hub with a wide range of options,” Al Gergawi said.Another component of Mall of the World is the Wellness District, which will cover a total area of three million square feet, dedicated to providing wellness and rejuvenation services. It will offer a holistic experience to medical tourists and their families, ensuring access to quality healthcare, specialised surgical procedures and cosmetic treatments, wellness facilities and high-end hospitality options.
“This project is a product of extensive research studying international and regional tourists’ requirements and preferences. 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,” he added.
“We are ready to move forward with this unique concept, whose distinctive offering and strategic location will play an instrumental role in advancing the growth of Dubai’s tourism sector,” said Bin Byat.
“The project will follow the green and environmentally friendly guidelines of the Smart Dubai model. It will be built using state-of-the-art technology to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, ensuring high levels of environmental sustainability and operational efficiency,” he said.