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Dubai Holding scales down Mall of the World plans

Dubai Holding scales down Mall of the World plans

Development’s chief operating officer says Dubai is a ‘maturing’ city in need of ‘rational’ projects

Dubai Holding’s gargantuan Mall of the World project is to be split into three separate shopping centres and built over stages in anticipation of an economic slump, the development’s chief operating officer has said.

Morgan Parker, who was appointed to manage project last year, has said it will now be built gradually as demand and funding allows.

The original $20bn plan was to build the world’s largest mall with 100 hotels surrounding it. However, falling oil prices, geopolitical instability and declining house values have provoked a project rethink, Parker told Bloomberg news.

The former Morgan Stanley and Macquarie Group banker said: “We are avoiding the biggest of this and tallest of that.

“Dubai is maturing as a city and investors are looking for rational projects. At the end of the day, the money is made by the tenants paying the rent and they are looking for projects that function.”

The development will still span a vast 9.15 million-square feet of retail space, combining a fashion district with street shops and traditional malls.

About 35 office buildings are planned throughout the development to support shops and restaurants, while the project’s 8,000 homes will range from high-end apartments to student housing and staff accommodation.

To link these separate areas, the original plan was to provide an air-conditioned environment for shoppers during Dubai’s extreme 45C summer heat.

However, this too is to be scaled back, with an emphasis instead on placing buildings closer together and providing shaded pathways. Dubai Holdings has also commissioned a scientific study to help find a long-term solution for the excessive summer temperatures.

Parker said : “Without shade, people can walk about 176 meters and then they’re done.

“You give people shade, they can go further and if you allow them an opportunity to walk into air-conditioned space at 24 degrees Celsius, the body temperature drops down to a neutral position.”

Meanwhile, to avoid the mall creating “the biggest traffic jam in history”, the developers have also planned 22 entrances and exits on four roads, compared with around five exits for locations such as Dubai Marina and Downtown,

It will also make use of the metro, tram, bus, and cycling routes as well as walkways and a free carbon-neutral electric shuttle, all emanating from a central station.

Phase one of the project was originally set for completion by 2018, but Parker has since declared “ground breaking” on the site would be unlikely to take place for another 18 months.

He added that he hopes to conclude partnership agreements with investors this year, but declined to disclose potential suitors.

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