You remember what fun the Dubai property market used to be? The skyscrapers? The man-made islands? The way all of the above came with the inevitable tag “world’s largest”, as if anything less would somehow be a source of national shame? (The dubious treatment of the world’s largest overseas labour force, oddly, seemed to produce no such reaction.) Then the world went into recession, real estate prices crashed, and the UAE’s national debts spiked. For the last few years, it’s been all quiet on the Middle Eastern front.
But rejoice, for the good times are here again. This weekend Dubai Holding, a property empire whose majority owner is one Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced that it was developing the (wait for it) world’s largest mall. Some facts and figures:
- The Mall of the World will occupy 8 million square feet, approximately one-and-a-half times the size of the current record holder, the, er, Dubai Mall.
- It’s less of a shopping centre than a “temperature-controlled pedestrian city”, with a total floor space of 48 million square feet, and 7km of car-free streets.
- The complex will also include apartments; up to 100 hotels; a “cultural district” (which its owners modestly compared to the West End and Broadway); a “celebration district” (which they compared to Barcelona’s Ramblas); and a “wellness district” (hospitals, beauty therapy and cosmetic surgery, together at last).
- Lastly, the development will feature the (obviously) world’s largest family theme park. This will be enclosed beneath a giant glass dome, which’ll open to the skies in the cooler months.
All in all it sounds a bit like a giant Arabic Center Parcs – except that, with the capacity to take 180 million visitors a year, it’s approximately 400 times bigger. Here’s a video: