Nakheel has officially opened the first phase of the expansion to its Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai.

The 300,000 square foot extension adds 60 new shops, restaurants, cafes and services to the mall – which currently welcomes 20 million visitors a year – and brings the total number of outlets at Ibn Battuta to almost 400. Among the new stores are Decathlon, United Furniture, Marks & Spencer, Under Armour, Iconic, Superdry, Jashanmal and Paul, as well as expansions to Homes R Us, which now spans two levels, and Paris Gallery.

The contractor for the project was the local Parkway International Construction.

A series of subsequent extensions will follow. A two-storey link connecting the mall to Ibn Battuta Metro Station is also due to open in the next few weeks, bringing another 90 outlets including a 24 hour food court, and Ibn Battuta’s first hotel – a 372-room Premier Inn – is scheduled to open later this year.

The contractor for the Premier Inn hotel is the local Unec.

These will be followed by another 4.7 million sq ft development – to be constructed over the next three to five – comprising a mall with a glass-covered courtyard, a new cinema complex, a multi-storey car park and another hotel.

“Today’s opening is a significant milestone for Ibn Battuta Mall and Nakheel’s retail business, which continues to grow in line with our company strategy. This extension, coupled with the soon-to-open Metro link and subsequent expansions at Ibn Battuta, cements the mall’s position as one of Dubai’s biggest, most popular destinations, and reinforces Nakheel’s position as a major force within the Dubai retail sector,” said Nakheel chairman Ali Rashid Lootah.

Nakheel is also tendering the contract to build a mall on the Deira Islands development.

Once completed, that mall will be a 620,000-square-metre retail, dining and entertainment hub for Deira Islands. It is the largest building scheme to be tendered in Dubai so far this year.

Singapore’s RSP is providing design and engineering services for the project.

Building work started on Deira Islands last year. In October, Nakheel awarded a AED1.17bn ($319m) deal to the local United Engineering Construction (UNEC) for the Night Souq and Boardwalk.

The souq will stretch almost 2 kilometres along Deira Islands’ waterfront, and feature 5,300 shops and nearly 100 quayside cafes and restaurants.

Retail is a key component of Nakheel’s business strategy. The developer says its retail scheme portfolio is expected to become the biggest in the UAE, with 10 new large-scale developments and a growing collection of community retail centres at various stages of development. In total these projects will add more than 10 million square feet of leasable retail space.