Dubai doesn’t do things by halves. It holds the records for the world’s biggest firework display (new year 2014), the tallest man-made structure (Burj Khalifa) and the biggest cereal-based breakfast (1,350 people eating from a cornflakes box 2.84 metres long, 1.11 metres deep and four metres high).
It even hosts the world’s biggest shopping mall – DubaiMall, a 502,000 sq m monster in the city’s downtown district.
But ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum isn’t resting on his keffiyeh. In July he announced plans to build the world’s biggest shopping mall (again) in Dubai’s forthcoming city-within-a-city, Mohammed Bin Rashid City.
The Mall of the World will cover 743,000 sq m of the planned development, and will include 7km of streets, a theatre complex, a theme park, a 15,000-capacity arena and even hospital facilities in a 279,000 sq m wellness district.
With an anticipated 180 million visitors a year, the development is also going to be one of the biggest food destinations in the world. DubaiMall – at two-thirds of the size – currently plays host to more than 150 eateries, including 55 restaurants, 50 fast food venues and 43 cafes.
Mall of the World will be fully pedestrianised and almost entirely enclosed by domes and atriums. The retail space will be connected via air-conditioned walkways to 100 hotels and serviced apartments with 20,000 rooms, making the whole development fully climate controlled – which, Sheikh Mohammed explained, will ensure Dubai is capable of offering a year-round tourist experience despite high summer temperatures.
There’s no confirmed opening date for Mall of the World, but it looks likely that the developer, Dubai Holding, will want it at least partially operational in time for the World Expo in 2020. “The project will be built in phases in alignment with the gradual growth of family tourism in Dubai,” explained His Excellency Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, chairman of Dubai Holding. “The objective is to create an integrated city with a plethora of best-in-class options within pleasant environments.”
Taking a malling: the world’s biggest shopping destinations
Although DubaiMall is currently the world’s largest by total footprint, shopping malls are generally ranked by gross leasable area (GLA) – the space available for tenants. On that criteria, the biggest on each continent are:
N. America West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Canada
350,000 m² 800+ Opened in 1981; world’s largest until 2004
S. America Centro Comercial, Aricanduva São Paulo, Brazil
247,027 m2 500+ Opened in 1991; includes 13 car dealerships
Europe Istanbul Cevahir, Istanbul, Turkey
420,000 m2 343+ Its 2,500 m2 glass roof carries the second biggest clock in the world, with 3m high digits
Africa Morocco Mall, Casablanca, Morocco
250,000 m² 350+ Includes a 1m litre aquarium
Asia New South China Mall, Dongguan, China
659,612 m² 2,350 Opening in 2005 with just 47 stores, it remained largely vacant until a 2014 re-vamp
Oceania Chadstone Shopping Centre, Melbourne, Australia
171,217 m2 510 Opened in 1960 at a cost of just A$10.9m
Words: Richard Young
Image: Dubai Holding