Dubai Mall predicts 37 million visitors

The centre expects up to eight times the population of the UAE in its first year of operations.

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Dubai Mall hopes to attract 37 million visitors - or eight times the population of the UAE - in its first year of operations, according to the shopping centre's developer. Mohammed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar Properties, said the Dh20 billion (US$5.44bn) investment into the shopping centre, one of the world's biggest, and a month-long festival helped to boost traffic and sales. "With 750,000 visitors every week during the festival at Dubai Mall, the mall is on course to achieve annual visitor traffic of 37 million."

The 1.12 million square metre mall - equal to 200 football fields and featuring the world's largest indoor aquarium - opened its doors last November, just as the economic downturn began to hit the UAE. At the time, 50 per cent of the mall's 1,200 stores were ready for business and Emaar Properties forecast that 30 million visitors would visit the centre in its first year of business. More than 900 stores were now open and the remaining 300 would launch in the next three months, Emaar Properties said.

Robert Ziegler, the vice president of AT Kearney, a consultancy in Dubai, said there was concern the mall would not attract the predicted number of shoppers after its soft opening last year because of slowing tourism and increasingly cautious consumers. But with more stores and attractions open and its official launch last month, the number of visitors was starting to pick up, he said. The rising temperature outside was also helping to drive people towards indoor attractions, he said.