Largest Mall Opening in the World in Dubai
The Dubai Mall opened today and is one of the largest in the world, occupying over 12 million sq ft of space (3.77 million of which is leasable space) and housing 1,200 stores - 600 of which are opening today, setting a record as the largest single-day mall opening in retail history.
The mall is situated at the foot of Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower) -- already the tallest building on earth at around 700 meters (2,300 feet) and still under construction.
The mall is scheduled to house branches of some of the world's best known retail chains, such as Marks and Spencer, Galeries Lafayette and even Bloomingdales, which has never before had stores outside the United States.
However, the inauguration has been repeatedly delayed. The centre was initially supposed to open by the end of 2006, but the date was postponed to August 2008, then to October 30 and finally to November 4.
Features within the Dubai Mall include an Aquarium & Discovery Centre with over 33,000 animals, a Fashion Catwalk, an Olympic-sized ice rink, 14,000 parking spaces with valet services and car locator system, a supermarket, an organic food mart, a family entertainment district with a children's "edu-tainment" area, a theme park and a 22-screen cineplex. If you get a bit weary of walking around inside the mall, visit the Grove, an indoor "outdoor" community with a retractable roof that will feature tree-lined walkways, cafés and retail stores.
Despite it's gargantuan size, the Dubai Mall is technically not the largest in the world, as mall 'sizes' are based on total leasable space not total area. Dubai Mall's leasable space is just shy to that of West Edmonton Mall in Canada, the largest mall in North America and the 4th largest mall in the world. The largest shopping mall in the world is the South China Mall in Dongguan, China, which boasts 1,500 stores across 7.1 million sf of retail space.
Many of the world's mega-malls can be found within Asian countries, but their future success is being questioned, especially in light of the current financial landscape.
The South China Mall, which opened with great fanfare in 2005, is not just the world’s largest. With fewer than a dozen stores scattered through a space designed to house 1,500, it is also the world’s emptiest – a dusty, decrepit complex of buildings marked by peeling paint, dead light bulbs, and dismembered mannequins.
“They set out to be the biggest, and hoped that being the biggest would be the attracting factor,” says David Hand, a retail analyst at Jones Lang LaSalle in Beijing, who has followed the project. “It hasn’t delivered.”
The world has plenty of empty malls; there’s even an American website, deadmalls.com, where connoisseurs of desolation post photos and reminiscences of the once-great, now-gutted places where they spent the Saturday afternoons of their youth. What sets the South China Mall apart from the rest, besides its mind-numbing size, is that it never went into decline. The tenants didn’t jump ship; they never even came on board. The mall entered the world pre-ruined, as if its developers had deliberately created an attraction for people with a taste for abandonment and decay. It is a spectacular real-estate failure – but it is also, as I saw when I spent two days exploring the site in May, a strangely beautiful monument to the big dreams that China inspires.
The Dubai Mall still has a couple of years to go before some of their key retailers even open up shop - Bloomingdale's will launch their first Middle East store there in 2010, while other key retailers are similarly still developing their store spaces and aren't slated to open for at least another year.
Project owner Emaar Malls, a subsidiary of the giant Dubai-based property developer Emaar, is optimistic about the viability of the shopping centre, which is part of a 20-billion-dollar project.
The wealthy governments of the Gulf region remain confident that their economies will weather the global economic crisis and have stepped in to provide liquidity assurances to banks and financial institutions, amid huge losses on their stock markets.
But some economists have questioned whether the developers of Dubai Mall can meet their target of 30 million visitors in the first year amid the global economic gloom.
Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, is renowned for grandiose and often extravagant projects, including a series of man-made islands. In September, it launched a huge water-themed resort billed as unique in the Middle East.