Nakheel Retail is planning to become the region’s largest mall operator as it prepares plans for at least 35 shopping malls in Dubai.

The company, a division of local developer Nakheel, plans to expand its existing Ibn Battuta Mall, develop a mall on the Palm Jumeirah, and build two at International City and another at Palm Deira.

As the sole developer of shopping malls on Nakheel projects, it also plans to build at least 30 malls at Dubai Waterfront, ranging from large, 400,000-square metre regional shopping malls to local, 10,000-sq m retail areas.

“Dubai Waterfront will have a population similar to Dubai of today,” says Graham Dreverman, group managing director of Nakheel Retail. “Dubai currently has 100 shopping malls. I expect we will build at least 30 malls at the Waterfront.”

The two most advanced projects are the Palm Mall on the Palm Jumeirah and the expansion to Ibn Battuta. Nakheel is handling the construction of the Palm Mall, which was formerly known as the Village Centre.

The property will be transferred to Nakheel Retail on completion. South Korea’s Samsung Corp-oration is in the final stages of negotiations for the main construction contract.

The project, on the island’s trunk, involves the construction of a four-floor retail centre with two 42-floor residential towers. It will have 120,000 square metres of retail space. Australia’s Buchan Group is the concept architect. Singapore’s RSP is the consultant.

At Ibn Battuta, work has already started on reorganising the layout of the mall ahead of the proposed expansion, which will double its existing retail area to 250,000 sq m.

The lead architect is US-based Cubellis Costa International. The consultant is Norr International.

The next projects in the pipeline are India Mall and Great Mall at International City, together with Palm Mall on Palm Deira.

Piling work for the mall on Palm Deira is expected to start in September.

Once completed, it will have 400,000 sq m of retail space and an indoor theme park. Buchan Group is the consultant.

Nakheel hopes the project will encourage further development on the island. “We plan to do what Mall of the Emirates did for Al-Barsha,” says Dreverman.

“In 2002, there was nothing there. The mall was a catalyst for development.”

At International City, Nakheel Retail plans to build an Indian-themed mall known as India Mall, which will include an indoor cricket pitch. Buchan is the architect. A second mall in the area, known as Great Mall, will feature furniture and electronics outlets. The architect is Noor with US-based Jacobs Carter Burgess.

Nakheel is in talks with contractors for the Ibn Battuta, Palm Deira and International City projects. “We are in the market talking to grade contractors with retail experience,” says Dreverman.

“We envisage giving each mall to a different contractor.”

Companies understood to have been approached to build the malls include Alec and Khansaheb Civil Engineering, both local, the local/UK Al-Naboodah Laing O’Rourke and the UK’s Higgs & Hill (MEED 21:4:08).