Dubai to press ahead with
world's largest mall as Gulf economy slows
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[February 09, 2016]
By David French
DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai said on Tuesday it
would press ahead with plans to build the world’s largest shopping mall
despite an economic slowdown looming in the region, but would assess
market demand before proceeding with the project’s later stages.
The Mall of the World project, encompassing 8 million square feet
(745,000 square meter) of shopping space connected to a theme park,
100 hotels and serviced apartment buildings with 20,000 rooms, was
announced in mid-2014, just as oil prices began a precipitous
Oil makes little direct contribution to Dubai’s economy, but its
drop has dampened consumer and investor confidence in the Gulf’s
financial and tourist hub as neighboring governments slash subsidies
and economists cut growth forecasts.
"We will be reacting to the demands of the market. The project is
massive and complex and will have to be built in stages," said Ahmad
bin Byat, vice-chairman and managing director of Dubai Holding, a
company owned by the emirate’s ruler that is responsible for the
He predicted it would still become the world's largest shopping
destination, adding that the first phase - representing about a
quarter of the project’s size - would be completed before Dubai
hosts the Expo 2020 exhibition.
Plans for the remainder "will be dependent on market dynamics", Byat
told a news conference, saying the project would be funded through
an equal split of his company's internal resources, institutional
investors and debt.
He estimated the total bill would be nearly 80 billion dirhams ($22
billion) and that Dubai Holding would provide "just shy" of 30
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"We're talking to advisors, financial investors, sovereign funds,
many people,” Byat said. "We have a lot of understandings with quite
a few people. This is a mixed-use project which will be very
interesting not only to locals but for the global market to invest
Having become world famous for its lavish real estate developments,
Dubai was badly hit by the global financial crisis in 2009 and was
forced to shelve or cancel scores of projects.
However, it did not take long for investors to return and the
emirate, one of seven in the United Arab Emirates Federation, has
resumed its ambitious plans.
(Writing by Matt Smith; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Raissa
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