Dubai is preparing plans to build the world’s largest mall under a giant glass dome in what ranks among the emirate’s most ambitious projects ever planned.
It is part of a strategy to boost Dubai’s burgeoning tourism economy by providing more options for visitors amid searing summer temperatures.
Dubai Holding, the conglomerate that owns Jumeirah Group, intends to develop a 8 million square foot Mall of the World along Sheikh Zayed Road.
The site of the proposed development is across the highway from the Mall of the Emirates, already one of the biggest shopping destinations in the region.
It would connect to 100 hotels in what is described as the world’s first “temperature-controlled city” – covered by a dome that would open during the winter months.
“We announced recently that we plan 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 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism. Tourism is a 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.”
No details about when the project would start or finish were disclosed.
A spokeswoman said more details would be communicated “in due course”.
Plans also include a 3 million sq ft wellness district to cater to medical tourists, 7 kilometres of shop-lined streets and a cultural district inspired by the Ramblas in Barcelona and London’s Oxford Street.
The entire project, sprawled across 48 million sq ft, also claims what would be the world’s biggest indoor theme park.
Dubai’s economic rebound has revived interest in the sort of larger-than-life megaprojects that featured widely before the dramatic collapse of property prices in late 2008.
The Mall of the World is the latest in a slew of retail and leisure-based developments to be announced over the last year that aim to capitalise on improving investor sentiment towards the emirate, helped by the rapid appreciation of property prices.
But some analysts have warned that the property revival could unravel unless more measures are put in place.
“We expect policymakers to monitor closely the developments in the real estate sector to guard against unsustainably rapid price rises and risks of a sharp correction,” said Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a report released on Thursday. “The central bank suggestion that foreign, cash-based, non-GCC investors are a driving force behind renewed strength of the residential market suggests a speculative element and vulnerability to the global liquidity cycle.”
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