Timeframe: When Dubai Mall opened its doors 15 years ago

Covering an area equating to 200 football fields, the shopping colossus has become the new global benchmark for retail

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When Dubai Mall first opened in 2008, the emirate was already home to dozens of shopping centres.

But the new mall’s total area, equating to about 200 football fields, would make it the new global benchmark, becoming Dubai’s calling card as a retail destination. Fifteen years on, Dubai Mall has managed to retain its title as the largest shopping mall in the world based on its total land area. It is not the largest when considering gross leasable space.

The mall was developed by Emaar Properties. The opening of the mall was twice delayed. It was originally scheduled for an August 2008 opening before being pushed back two months to complete infrastructure facilities. It was then delayed again from its October 30 opening before officially launching on November 4.

Right from the outset, the mall wanted to open its doors with a bang. Dubai Mall opened with about 1,000 shops. It was the second-largest mall opening in history, behind Canada’s West Edmonton Mall. Until earlier this year, the mall was officially known as The Dubai Mall, before dropping the definite article to become, simply, Dubai Mall.

Today, the mall features more than 1,200 shops, including department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s. Most of the world’s most coveted luxury brands, including Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin, Versace and Louis Vuitton have addresses at the mall. It also has 200 dining locations, offering everything from fast-food nibbles to haute cuisine.

The mall’s adjoining Souq Al Bahar is an indoor souq with numerous restaurants and shops; in 2021 popular food hall Time Out Market opened in the souq.

Every year, Dubai Mall hosts an impressive 100 million people, often topping the lists of the world’s most visited retail and lifestyle destinations.

Another point of pride is its suspended aquarium. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo features more than 300 species of marine life, including sharks, otters and spider crabs. Sand tiger sharks, giant groupers and rays are housed in its 10-million-litre tank, and diving experiences offer visitors the chance to get up close and personal with them.

Among Dubai Mall’s most recent additions is Chinatown. Located opposite Dubai Ice Rink, the area is decorated with Chinese lanterns and traditional art. Among the offerings in the newly opened area are dining experiences, wellness centres, technology shops and art stalls.

More information available at thedubaimall.com

Updated: November 17, 2023, 6:01 PM