Dubai’s philosophy for shopping malls is a simple one: “Bigger is better”. On 5 July, the emirate released details of its latest potential worldbeater, the Mall of the World, which will be built on Sheikh Zayed Road on the Police Academy site.

The idea is not a new one. Dubai has launched the world’s largest mall before, and while Dubai Mall has been a success, others, such as Mall of Arabia in Dubailand, and another major shopping centre at Bawadi, which were planned before the 2008 real estate crash were never built.

Mall of the World is not a new project either, as it was first launched as part of the Mohammed bin Rashid City development in late 2012. It is unclear when Dubai Holding decided to move what was expected to be an integral part of its new city to a more central location directly opposite, and just a few hundred metres away from, one of Dubai’s largest existing shopping centres, Mall of the Emirates.

One possible explanation could be economies of scale. With Mall of the Emirates, a metro station and countless hotels in the Al-Barsha area across Sheikh Zayed Road, the Al-Sufouh tram terminus nearby to the south, and the Madinat Jumeirah and beach hotels to the west, the new mall will connect existing tourism venues to create a major new destination.

The owner of Mall of the Emirates, Majid Al-Futtaim, will be hoping that is the case. It is expanding the mall and building new hotels at the development.

Other mall owners are hoping the same, as every major mall is currently being expanding, including Emaar Properties’ Dubai Mall, Nakheel’s Ibn Battuta, Al-Ghurair’s Burjuman, Al-Futtaim’s Festival City, and MAF’s City Centre. Nakheel is also building major new malls on the Palm Jumeirah and Deira Islands, and Meraas is planning a new retail centre on the Bluewaters Island.

With so much new capacity being built, the bigger is better philosophy should refer to Dubai, not the malls, because there is only one thing that can sustain so many major shopping centres, and that is a much bigger market.

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