In a place where summer temperatures go up to 104˙ F, a temperature controlled city within a glass dome would do nicely. The monarch of Dubai and vice-president cum prime minister of UAE, his highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum announced the plans of “The Mall of the World” recently. This 50 million square feet mega development project would be home to an 8 million square feet shopping complex, 100 hotels, the world’s largest indoor theme park, cultural theatres and a wellness centre. The ambition of this project is to transform Dubai into a global cultural, touristic and economic centre to benefit the 2 billion people living in the surrounding regions. The completion dates for this futuristic and seemingly outlandish capitalistic fantasy has not been announced yet.
Even though Dubai has had an extraordinary recovery from its 2009 crisis, the IMF fears that the city could be heading for yet another property bubble. The city’s real-estate market, driven by foreign investment had grown exponentially for many years prior to coming to a halting crash during the time of the global financial crisis. Recently, in light of regional turmoil, the perception of Dubai as a safe haven and its strong recovery from the 2009 catastrophe has played a part in attracted flocks of investors in the market. However, IMF advices strong measures to be taken to dampen what seems like a repeat of speculative prices in the real-estate market yet again.
The growth in family and retail tourism has pushed the need for Dubai to improve its tourism infrastructure. Family tourism has a big market and is growing steadily. The indoor self-sufficient “pedestrian city” completes with all shopping and entertainment options you could wish for, tourists will not feel the need to step out of it. With 4.5 miles of temperature-controlled streets, the retractable reflective glass dome can be opened during mild-winter for residents to enjoy the outside weather.
Dubai should be cautious with this project and make sure it doesn’t repeat China’s Manhattan replica blunder. The success of this venture, with a capacity of hosting over 180 million visitors per year, can only be judged by time. With people leaning towards online shopping, such extravagant investment on physical retail can seem but questionable. In today’s world, it is possible to build an online mall with the capability to host unlimited amounts of brands, just a click away