Mall of the World aims to transform Dubai into cultural, tourist and economic hub
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Mall of the World aims to transform Dubai into cultural, tourist and economic hub

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The Mall of the World – a giant indoor ‘city’ under construction in Dubai – will have its own version of Oxford Street and Broadway, as well as galleons, waterfalls, a theme park, wellness district and a host of other leisure activities and attractions.

The ‘city’, which has a giant retractable dome, is Dubai’s vision for a climate-controlled leisure district, including luxury hotels with more than 20,000 bedrooms, shops, entertainment and healthcare. The mall will be connected by 7km (4.3m) of sealed avenues, along which a tram line will run.

The multi-billion dollar plans are the first on this grand scale to emerge from the emirate since the pre-crash bubble, and now heading out of its financial crisis, Dubai and its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum are looking to transform the country into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in and around the region.

The 48 million sq ft (4.5 million sq m) complex will feature a "celebration walk" modelled on Barcelona's Las Ramblas, a bustling billboard-lined theatre district modelled on New York's Broadway, and a shopping area based on London's Oxford Street – all sealed under snaking bubble rooftops.

At 8 million sq ft (750,000 sq m), the facility’s shopping centre will be the largest in the world while the centrepiece will be a giant "cultural celebration centre," shaped like a half disco ball hollowed out to form an outdoor amphitheatre.

The theme park will be the largest indoor one in the world. Featuring “fairytale castles” and “tumbling waterfalls”, the temperature controlled park will include a number of rides including roller coasters, water slides, a ferris wheel and other rides and amenities.

Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism," said Sheikh Mohammed. "Tourism is a key driver of our economy, and we aim to make the UAE an attractive destination all year long. This is why we will start working on providing pleasant temperature-controlled environments during the summer months."

The city’s wellness district will cover 3 million sq ft (280,000 sq m) and will capitalise on the boom in health and wellness tourism, though exact facilities have not yet been revealed.

Dubai Holding, the state-owned development company behind the project, has not revealed any specific dates or costs for the project, but it is expected to range similarly to plans launched in 2003 for “Dubailand” – a gargantuan $64bn (€47bn, £37bn) leisure district, planned to cover an area of 278 sq km and slated to house 200 attractions. That project was put on hold in 2008 – although work has recently restarted and the first phase, the Miracle Garden, opened last year.

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The Mall of the World – a giant indoor ‘city’ under construction in Dubai – will have its own version of Oxford Street and Broadway, as well as galleons, waterfalls, a theme park, wellness district and a host of other leisure activities and attractions.
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