Dubai to Build `World's Biggest Mall' in Desert Strip

Dubai Holding LLC, a government-owned investment company, plans to develop what it says will be the world's biggest shopping mall, at a cost of 10 billion dirhams ($2.7 billion).

The project will be developed in Bawadi, a planned strip of more than 50 themed hotels in the desert of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The first phase of the mall will comprise 4 million square feet (376,000 square meters) of shop space, Dubai Holding's Tatweer unit said in an e-mailed statement today. That's equal to about 70 football fields.

Dubai, the second-largest of seven sheikhdoms that make up the U.A.E., will run out of oil and gas within 25 years, and is investing in tourism to diversify its economy. Tourism contributed 18 percent of Dubai's gross domestic product in 2006, according to the Department for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

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The project will be developed in partnership with Al Ghurair Investment, a closely held Dubai-based trading group with interests in real estate, retail development and manufacturing, the statement said.

The largest completed shopping mall in the world is the South China Mall in central Dongguan, north of Hong Kong, with about 7.1 million square feet of retail space, most of which has yet to be filled by tenants.

The Bawadi project is expected to cost as much as $54 billion to build and will include a series of themed hotels based on landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower. The development will include the $5 billion ``Asia Asia'' hotel with 6,000 rooms. Source

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