Friday, October 29, 2004

Mega projects in Dubai

OK, here we go. I've been threatening to write something about all the outrageous construction projects going on in Dubai, but it's a bit daunting so I've kept putting it off. Mainly it's daunting because I want to do an interactive map so you can see just where and how big some of these things are. I've decided I'm unlikely to find the time do make that map in the near future, so we'll just go with the words for now.

Burj Dubai, by far the world's tallest tower (720m).
Dubai Mall, the world's biggest shopping mall (by a factor of 2) .
Downtown Dubai, an urban development surrounding the two projects named above - residential, commercial, entertainment.

Dubai Festival City, residential, commercial, retail and entertainment.

Mall of the Emirates, a huge mall (2.4 million leasable square feet) from the owners of Deira City Centre, includes an indoor ski resort.

The Gardens Mall, another monster mall, heavily themed on the journeys of Ibn Battuta. Includes a 20-screen cinema and an IMAX cinema - just down the road from us - can't wait for it to open!

New terminal at Dubai International Airport. This will be purely for Emirates flights, and is similar in size to the Sheikh Rashid Terminal that was opened a few years ago.

Hydropolis, an underwater hotel.

The Palm Jumeirah and The Palm Jebel Ali, (both land reclamation projects in the sea in the shape of palm trees, about 5km square, together adding 160 km to the emirate's coastline) .

The World (300 artificial islands in the shape of a map of the world - measuring 8km x 5km, access only by sea or air).

Dubai International Financial Centre , a financial 'Free Zone' aimed at becoming the regional epicentre for banking, insurance and other financial services companies.

Dubailand. This is an enormous sport, leisure and entertainment project, occupying an area as big as all of the existing built-up area of Dubai. One project already announced in Dubailand is Sports City, which looks like nothing less than a fully-equipped Olympic city, complete with stadia for various things, hotels and villages.
Dubai Light Rail System - fully-automatic, trains every 3 minutes running from the Sharjah border to the Abu Dhabi border, and across town from Port Rashid to beyond the Airport.
Jebel Ali Airport. A brand-new airport, primarily for cargo and charter flights.
The Palm, Deira. Following the success of the first two Palms, a third one is being planned.

Interesting question! Some of these projects are directly funded by the Government of Dubai, some by Nakheel (wholly-owned by the Govt), Emaar (a public joint stock company), and family firms such as Majid Al Futtaim and Al Futtaim Group. International investors are being sought for projects in Dubailand and DIFC.

Dubai is expanding rapidly. When we arrived 10 years ago, the population was less than half a million. Today it is just over 1 million. It is expected to hit 3 million in about 15 years. The thing that makes much of this development viable is Dubai's position as a global and regional tourist destination. There is nowhere in the Middle East or the Sub-Continent (or most of Afrcia and the CIS, come to that) that even gets close to offering the concentration of shopping and leisure activities that Dubai has. But I think the key factor is confidence. 'If you build it, they will come'.