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THE GULF

Dubai developer to build shopping mall bigger than Hyde Park

The emirate is planning a mega-district with 100 hotels and gardens bigger than Hyde Park

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 3:52am
 

Dubai's ruler announced plans for a development boasting the world's biggest shopping mall and gardens larger than London's Hyde Park, as the emirate revives property projects on hold since the global financial crisis.

Emaar Properties, the United Arab Emirates' largest developer by market value, and Dubai Holding will together build a district called "Mohammed Bin Rashid City", named after the emirate's ruler. The project near central Dubai is to include 100 hotels, residential areas and green spaces 30 per cent bigger than Hyde Park, according to an e-mailed statement.

Dubai, seeking to stimulate economic growth, wants to resume several projects that were halted after the global credit crunch drove down property values by 65 per cent and caused companies to suspend construction of hundreds of developments. Builders in the UAE have aborted about US$757 billion worth of projects since the crisis, Citigroup said in a report last month. Dubai is the country's second-largest emirate, after Abu Dhabi.

Meydan City Corp, which built a 60,000-seat horse-racing stadium and hotel complex in Dubai, said in October it would revive plans for two developments, one with low-rise buildings and lagoons and the other for a tower with "sky gardens" and nine pools. At about the same time, the emirate's government re-approved construction of a 1.6 kilometre canal from the Business Bay commercial area to the ocean.

New projects announced in the past two months include a replica of India's Taj Mahal that would be four times larger than the original.

"The current facilities available in Dubai need to be scaled up in line with the future ambitions for the city," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said. "We have to start work immediately" on the project and boost the economy, he said.

Under the ruler's plan, Mohammed Bin Rashid City would span 5.1 square kilometres and contain the biggest cluster of art galleries in the Middle East and North Africa.

It's so-called Mall of the World would cater to 80 million shoppers a year.

The announcement didn't specify the development's expected cost or a construction schedule.

Dubai racked up US$113 billion of debt transforming itself into a tourism and commercial hub. The emirate has US$7 billion of debt maturating next year and US$32 billion in 2014, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report.

A construction boom in the emirate led to projects including the world's tallest tower and man-made islands off the coast. Work on two of three palm-shaped islands was interrupted as the bonanza turned to a bust.

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