Dubai Mall claims world visitors record

Emaar claims Dubai Mall is the most popular leisure destination in the world after a 15 per cent increase in traffic in 2011.

Dubai Mall features more than 1,200 shops. Paulo Vecina / The National
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claims Dubai Mall is now the world's most-visited shopping and leisure destination, after the centre attracted 54 million visitors last year.


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The traffic was a 15 per cent increase on 2010 and pushed the mall past the 50.2 million visitors to New York City, according to Emaar. The developer also compared the visitor numbers to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Times Square, Central Park and Niagara Falls, but did not offer independent verification in a release issued yesterday.

"From a tourist perspective and a global perspective, it is very successful," said David Macadam, the regional director of retail for Jones Lang LaSalle. "But it would be very hard to justify [the numbers] or contradict them."

Dubai Mall features more than 1,200 shops, in addition to a skating rink, a massive aquarium and an indoor theme park, in addition to its direct link to Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.

Last month, Emaar used the mall as collateral to secure Dh3.6 billion (US$980 million) of financing from a trio of UAE banks.

Retailers in the mall are reporting a 35 per cent increase in sales compared with 2010, Emaar said.

But Dubai Mall is not considered the emirate's highest earning mall. Mall of the Emirates generates more revenue, analysts say.

"If you look at sales trading and sales density, the Mall of the Emirates has been the number one trading mall in the world," Mr Macadam said. "I know some retailers have enjoyed great growth, but 35 per cent increase on already humongous numbers is a lot."

Only 20 per cent of the stores in the gold souq are open, he noted.

But Dubai Mall retailers have been reporting growing sales.

"I would not be surprised because the numbers have been quite good," said Ishwar Chugani, the executive director for Giordano Middle East, Africa and India. "I'm very confident that almost all the retailers saw at least 25 to 30 per cent growth."

This week Emaar said that it would build a glass tunnel from the nearby Metro stop to the mall.

* additional reporting by Rory Jones


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