Local Business

Mega mall key to Dubai’s vision

Muzaffar Rizvi (muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com)
Filed on July 7, 2014
Mega mall key to Dubaiís vision

Project an important step for emirate to become international hub for tourism and hospitality

Dubai’s plans to set up the Mall of the World is critical to unlock the emirate’s vision on hospitality and entertainment development, and will further consolidate its position as regional hub for tourism, cultural and business activities, experts say.

Industry specialists and analysts term Dubai Holding’s proposals to build the 48 million sqft mega development — which includes an eight million sqft shopping mall — an important step to become an international hub for tourism

Mega mall key to Dubai’s vision (/assets/oldimages/mega7072014.jpg)

An artist’s impression of the Mall of the World, which represents a significant milestone in the evolution of Dubai’s shopping malls.

and entertainment activities. The project, which is set to also include the world’s largest indoor theme park and a theatre district to rival London’s West End or New York’s Broadway, follows Nakheel’s recently-revealed plans for a 6.7 million sqft mall on Deira Islands, complete with an adjoining night market and amphitheatre.

Cluttons, an international real estate consultancy operating in over 50 countries, said the unveiling of the mega project will form part of a strengthening mall development pipeline that is critical to unlocking Dubai’s vision on the tourism and hospitality industries.

“I see this as Dubai’s answer to London’s Oxford Street and Paris’ Champs Elysee, which are both iconic shopping avenues. The added climate-control element will for the first time allow the emergence of what will effectively be Dubai’s answer to a high street,” Faisal Durrani, International Research and Business Development manager at Cluttons, said.

He said shopping is already synonymous with Dubai and has proved to be one of the city’s key lynchpins in its meteoric rise as the Middle East’s business capital. Dubai has a very significant portfolio of existing shopping malls and the string of new mall developments looks set to push Dubai further ahead of the region’s other emerging economies, he said.

“Dubai’s malls have thus far been fairly traditional, offering global retail brands in a single ‘shopping destination’. During the last property cycle, we witnessed the inclusion of leisure attractions at some of the city’s malls, with Ski Dubai, iFly and the Dubai Aquarium all helping the emirate’s malls position themselves as leisure destinations in their own right,” he added.

Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, head of JLL’s Hotels and Hospitality Group in the Middle East and Africa, said the announcement sets the new strategy for Dubai Holding and confirms the orientation of Dubai, as a destination, towards tourism and entertainment. It is a path that leads to 2020 and extend well beyond.

“It is interesting to note that the location of the new project is in proximity of Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah and the new Jumeirah projects. Although, not all the details of the projects have been made public; it is interesting to note that it would the first major Dubai mega mixed-use project that does not put the water element at the centre of the concept,” he said.

“Whether located on the beach, on the Creek or even further inland [such as Downtown Burj Khalifa], all major tourism driven projects in Dubai have put the water element at the centre of their design and experience, translating the dual heritage of the Dubai culture,” he added.

Anchored by a mall, Ben Mahmoud said the new destination seems to be planned as a new and additional “heart” of the new Dubai. “While the adequate hotel supply — in quantity and quality — is important for growth of tourist arrivals, this should not overshadow the role of all the parties involved in the marketing of Dubai. It is essential that the Dubai destination marketing ‘engine’ continues to perform towards 2020 and beyond,” he said.

As development across the city ramps up in the lead-up to the 2020 World Expo and the emirate’s vision of playing host to 20 million tourists annually, the focus of activity has moved strongly towards the retail and hospitality sectors. Cluttons currently expects some seven million sqft of new malls over one million sqft in size to enter the market over the next two years, excluding all current city wide mall expansion activity.

Joe Tabet, chairman of the Pragma Group, said the announcement of developing the Mall of the World, which is proposed to be the largest shopping mall across the globe, is exciting news for everyone.

“The investor sentiment in Dubai is likely to significantly increase post this announcement. Once complete, this project will further consolidate Dubai’s position as a regional hub for cultural, tourism and business activities,” Tabet told Khaleej Times. “The retail and tourism industries, two key drivers of the economy, are likely to be the main beneficiaries of this shopping centre development. Developments such as these are aligned with Dubai’s vision of 2020 to generate Dh300 billion in tourism and have 20 million tourists visiting the emirate annually by 2020.”

Haneen Dabain, founder of pricena.com, said this is good news for e-commerce.

“It will stimulate the retail market and will attract new businesses who don’t want to miss out on the segment of customers who prefer to shop online. We still need to develop our e-commerce ecosystem, however, through more advanced tools such as price comparison to ensure that the average Dubai resident is benefiting from lower prices,” she told Khaleej Times.

The Mall of the World represents a significant milestone in the evolution of Dubai’s shopping malls. Not only will the mega project include 100 hotels and some 20,000 keys, it will also offer visitors seven kilometres of climate-controlled promenades, something that is offered nowhere else in the world.

“The Mall of the World will pave the way for the next generation of the city’s malls, where the shopping element is combined in equal parts with entertainment and leisure facilities, creating destinations in theory own right, while catalysing the development of wider surrounding areas,” Durrani concluded.

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