Dubai Mall is world’s most visited destination as shopaholics flock in their droves

New figures show the Dubai Mall became the world's most visited destination for the third consecutive year in 2013 as footfall figures rose 15 per cent to 75 million while Dubai International Airport reported that annual passenger numbers rose 15.2 per cent to reach a new record high of 66.4 million.

Shoppers at The Dubai Mall during the Dubai Shopping Festival. The mall is benefiting from increased tourist traffic in the emirate. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Powered by automated translation

More than 75 million visitors flocked to The Dubai Mall last year as passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport reached 66.4 million.

The 5.4 million square foot shopping centre became the world’s most visited destination for the third consecutive year in 2013 as footfall numbers rose 15 per cent from 2012, according to new figures published by The Dubai Mall owner Emaar yesterday.

Emaar said that the number of visitors to the mall was nearly double that of official footfall figures for the Mall of America in Minnesota, US, and the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham, UK both of which reported 40 million visitors.

At the same time Dubai International Airport reported that annual passenger numbers rose 15.2 per cent compared with 2012 to reach a new record high.

Emaar reported that more than 40 per cent of the visitors to the mall were tourists, with the highest numbers of overseas visitors coming from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries as well as China, India, Russia and Europe.

“The record visitor arrival to The Dubai Mall in 2013 is a powerful statement that seals Dubai’s reputation globally as a business and leisure hub,” said Abdulla Lahej, group chief executive of Emaar Properties.

“The socio-economic impact of the mall on the Emirate’s economy is tremendous, having generated more than 25,000 jobs and consistently driving the growth of the city’s retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors — the core contributors to Dubai’s GDP,” he added.

Dubai International reported that the largest number of passenger arrivals at the airport — 8.4 million of them — came from India, an increase of 14.3 per cent compared with the previous year. The UK came second with 5.1 million passenger arrivals, representing an increase of 19 per cent. And the third highest number of passenger arrivals — 4.8 million — originated in Saudi Arabia, representing a 34.2 per cent increase on 2012.

“It was truly a historic year for Dubai’s aviation sector,” said the Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths. “2014 is set to be another eventful year, one featuring continued traffic growth, network expansion and the ongoing enlargement and upgrade of our facilities and runways.”

“These figures make a lot of sense given the other data coming through about visitor numbers and the general state of the economy as a whole,” said Stuart Gissing, regional director for the Middle East at Colliers CRE.

“Footfall is definitely up at prime retail developments, and whether the visitors are repeat visitors who shop there every day or new visitors from overseas in a way doesn’t matter. What we do know is that more visits are being made — and that’s a key economic indicator. For retailers it’s not just about getting their stock seen by new markets but about building a sense of brand loyalty.”