Focus: Megaprojects

The Mega City Reborn

The Mega City Reborn

Jan. 12, 2015

As Dubai solidifies its position as an influential global hub city, it continues to astound with a raft of new and expanded mega-projects, leaving its distinct cultural and economic stamp on both the Gulf region and the wider world.


Some of the most dramatic of these more recent megaprojects are actually expansions of previous, already highly ambitious, megaprojects. One of the most talked about is The Mall of the World, an addition to the massive The World development. The World is a series of small artificial islands, constructed by the Al Nakheel Properties group, which approximates a map of the globe, and features different islands devoted to the cultures and physical landscapes of a number of the world's nations. Located 2 miles of the coast of Dubai, The World islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai's shallow coastal waters, and are one of a number of dramatic artificial developments in Dubai. Another subsidiary project of The World Islands that has gained attention recently is the Heart of Europe series of islands; spanning six islands, The Heart of Europe features private villas, hotels, and shopping areas inspired by the architecture and lifestyles of Europe. Most notably, when complete it will also recreate the European climates of the countries featured and even include snow, rain, and fog.


The Mall of The World itself will be the district's 7-kilometer commercial street network, which, when complete, will be covered by a retractable roof during the summer months, creating the world's first fully “temperature controlled cityscape." The planned expansion of this project will require AED25 billion ($6.8 billion) in further investment over the next 10 years. When complete, The Mall of the World will be the world's largest shopping mall, with a total of 8 million square feet of commercial floor space, as well as over 100 new hotels—adding 20,000 rooms for the tourism sector—and Dubai's largest events and convention center, capable of accommodating 15,000 people. Other distinctive planned attractions will include the world's largest indoor family theme park and a cultural district that includes a theater district modeled on New York City's iconic Broadway, “The Celebration Walk," which is a replica of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, and a series of shopping streets based upon the model of Oxford Street in London. And in keeping with Dubai's stated interest in increasing its role as a medical tourism hub in the GCC, there is also a 3 million square foot “wellness district" planned, which will cater to medical tourists from both the Gulf and beyond.


Further equally dramatic megaprojects are also underway and are set to transform, yet again, both the cityscape and the skyline. The Dubai Municipality has started work on the New Aladdin City project, set to open in 2016, which lies in the middle of Dubai Creek. The project will include commercial offices and hotels in three lamp-shaped towers spread over a distance of 450 meters. The towers are planned to be 34, 25, and 26 stories tall, and the complex will have air-conditioned bridges with moving walkways to connect the towers, as well as driveways and massive parking lots. The surrounding Dubai Creek area itself is the target of an AED2 billion ($544 million) tourism project that is to include a floating market and numerous art galleries. The development is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016 and will feature themes and motifs from traditional Emirati design, and will also include hotels, restaurants, and shops that highlight Emirati handicrafts. Other smaller scale—always a relative term in Dubai—tourism orientated projects announced in 2014 by the Dubai Municipality include the Al Fahaidi Market, Naif Souq, the Dubai Frame, the Deira Fish Market, Dubai Safari Park, Crocodile Park, and Holy Quran Park.