The world’s most valuable square kilometre

June 15, 2004 4:48 pm

‘This comprises a landmark development with the tallest building in the world and the largest shopping mall on the planet earth,’ says Emaar Chairman Mohammed Ali Alabbar.

‘It will also include 25 high-rise buildings, and the Dubai Old Town. This is a unique central location in Dubai and competes with anything in New York and Chicago.’

Dubai is clearly going for a bold challenge in building the world’s largest shopping mall which at 3.6m square feet is larger than the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

‘Only a million people live in Minneapolis, less than Dubai, but people fly and drive four hours to shop there,’ says Mr. Alabbar. ‘Our argument is that we have 1.5 billion people within two hours’ flying time of the Dubai Mall.

‘We also note that shopping levels in the Middle East are 30% higher than elsewhere due to the absence of alternative social activities. In addition, 30-40% of the shops in the Dubai Mall will be new concepts. We really do not think there are too many malls in Dubai.’

Mr. Alabbar was speaking after the opening of the leasing centre for the $700 million Dubai Mall in mid-June. “We have 140% reservations at present,’ he added, ‘but a high fall-out rate in retail is usual, so let us say we are happy with the level of demand.’

By the end of 2006 the whole shopping mall will be completed, and shortly after the Burj Dubai will be topped out, the world’s tallest building. Around this epicenter of global real estate development, the Dubai Old Town will be created.

This will comprise more than 1,000 units of various building types from three-storey apartment blocks to nine and ten storey mid-rises with a variety of Arabian architectural styles hailing from the distant past of Dubai.

The Dubai Old Town will have walkways and a random placing of buildings redolent of days gone by complete with apartments built around courtyards in the old style. There will also be complementary larger commercial areas and gym areas complete with swimming pools, as well as a unique mosque.

These buildings are set to be sold freehold and are bound to be much in demand. Meanwhile, the Dubai Mall will remain a leasehold proposition, as Mr Alabbar notes, ‘We need to stay in control of the tenant mix to ensure the overall success of the project.’

That said the two apartment blocks released from The Residences in the Burj Dubai district so far have sold out, and freehold interest in this amazing project is bound to be strong, wherever it is available.