Billed as the world’s first temperature-controlled pedestrian city, the $6.8bn Mall of the World, set to located along Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road is one of the most ambitious projects to be unveiled in the Middle East this century.
And it has been greeted with widespread approval by architects and engineers across the region – many of whom have their own ideas as to how it will be a success.
These include opening it to the elements, connecting it to existing retail facilities and customising the facade to take advantage of the sun.
Covered by a massive dome and roofs which can be open in winter but closed during hot months the project includes kilometer long promenades lined with shops, based on London’s Oxford Street, along with the world’s largest indoor theme park.
Additional districts within the 743,000m2 project will include a “wellness dedicated zone” catering to medical tourists, as well as a wide range of hospitality facilities including 20,000 hotel rooms.
It will also incorporate Dubai Cultural District, which will be the hub for national and multinational cultural festivities, fashioned in New York’s Broadway style, while Celebration Walk, planned to be similar to the Ramblas Street in Barcelona, will connect it to the rest of the mall.
The project will see the addition of 100 hotels and serviced apartments building, as well as designated parking areas with a capacity to host up to 50,000 cars on the ground level.
Once completed, it is projected to become a year-round global destination, attracting a figure of 180 million visitors annually.
The project has received attention across the world and been greeted with enthusiasm in the UAE. Vice president of project management company Aconex, Andrew Killander, said: “It’s good that plans are underway for something which will bring people to Dubai during the hot weather – such as we are seeing now.”
WSP engineer Bart Leclercq said the new development should be connected physically with Mall of The Emirates.
“That way they will both benefit, establishing a critical mass for retail and entertainment,” he said.
“Ensuring that there is an easily accesibble connection with the existing mall will be of great benefit to the future of both.”
But the mall’s attractions must be exposed to the elements for as much of the year as possible if it is to maximise its potential, according to a building physicist and sustainability expert.
Matt Kitson, regional director of design consultants Hilson Moran, said the development would hugely benefit by having its retractable roofs and massive dome in the open position for as many months as the external temperature comfortably allows.
“Psychologically people feel better when exposed to an outside environment,” he said. “This means they would stay longer and so optimise the project’s commercial success.
“The feeling of being in the outside air stimulates the senses so the plan should be to keep the dome and roofs open for as long as possible.”
Dubai Holding, owners of Jumeirah Group, is behind the development, but no dates have yet been set for construction work to begin, although tenders could be out by the start of next year.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai said on the project’s launch: “We announced recently that we plan 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.
“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.”
Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, chairman of Dubai Holding, said the project is the result of extensive research and studies of international and regional tourists preferences.
He said: “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.
“The objective is to create an integrated city with a plethora of best-in-class options within pleasant environments.” Ahmad Bin Byat, CEO of Dubai Holding, said: “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.
The developers said the project will follow the environmentally friendly guidelines of the Smart Dubai model. They stated: “It will be built using state-of-the-art technology to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, ensuring high levels of environmental sustainability as well as operational efficiency.”
Faisal Durrani, of real estate consultancy Cluttons, said the project would make a difference to retails and entertainment: “I see this as Dubai’s answer to London’s Oxford Street and Paris’ Champs Elysee. The added climate control element will for the first time allow the emergence of what will effectively be Dubai’s answer to the high street.”
- 180M Projected visitors per year
- 7km Walkways and promenades
- 3,000m2 Total floor area
- 100 Hotels
- 20,000 Hotel rooms
- $6.8bn Estimated cost
- 743,000 Area in m2
- 2015 Tendering begins
- Developer: Dubai Holding
- Guidelines: Smart Dubai