Dubai Is Building The Biggest Mall On The Planet — Again

Dubai Mall Promenade

Photo: The Dubai Mall

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) — Dubai’s ruler announced plans for a development boasting the world’s biggest shopping mall and gardens larger than London’s Hyde Park, as the emirate revives property projects on hold since the global financial crisis.Emaar Properties PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ largest developer by market value, and Dubai Holding LLC will together build a district called “Mohammed Bin Rashid City,” named after the Persian Gulf emirate’s ruler. The project near central Dubai is to include 100 hotels, residential areas and green spaces 30 per cent bigger than Hyde Park, according to an e- mailed statement yesterday.

Dubai already has bragging rights to the biggest emporium by total area, Dubai Mall, which sprawls opposite the planet’s tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa. Between these two Emaar structures is a man-made lake where the world’s largest dancing fountain shoots water 50 stories high.

Dubai, seeking to stimulate its economy, wants to resume several projects that halted after the global credit crunch drove down property values by 65 per cent and caused companies to suspend construction of hundreds of developments. Builders in the U.A.E. have aborted about $757 billion of projects since the crisis, Citigroup said in a report on Oct. 16. Dubai is the country’s second-largest emirate, after Abu Dhabi.

Desert Venice

Meydan City Corp., which built a 60,000-seat horse-racing stadium and hotel complex in Dubai, said in October it would revive plans for two developments, one with low-rise buildings and lagoons and the other for a tower with “sky gardens” and nine swimming pools. At about the same time, the emirate’s government re-approved construction of a mile-long (1.6 kilometer-long) canal from the Business Bay commercial area to the ocean.

New projects announced in the past two months include a replica of India’s Taj Mahal that would be four times the size of the original.

Emaar’s shares climbed 2.2 per cent today to 3.73 dirhams, the highest close since Oct. 23. The company’s shares have jumped 45 per cent this year.

“The current facilities available in Dubai need to be scaled up in line with the future ambitions for the city,” Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, according to the official statement. “We have to start work immediately” on the project and boost the economy, he said.

Sheikh’s Vision

Under the ruler’s plan, Mohammed Bin Rashid City would span 5.1 square kilometres (2 square miles) and contain the biggest cluster of art galleries in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s so-called “Mall of the World” would cater to 80 million shoppers a year.

The announcement didn’t specify the development’s expected cost or a construction schedule.

Dubai racked up $113 billion of debt transforming itself into a tourism and commercial hub. The emirate has $7 billion of debt maturating next year and $32 billion in 2014, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report Oct. 20.

A construction boom in the emirate, where developers began selling property to foreigners in 2002, led to several large projects including the world’s tallest tower and man-made islands off the coast. Work on two of three palm-shaped residential islands was interrupted as the bonanza turned to a bust in the third quarter of 2008.

–Editors: Bruce Stanley, Inal Ersan

To contact the reporter on this story: Zainab Fattah in Dubai on [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Blackman at [email protected]

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