Thursday, December 11, 2008

opens doors Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall opens doors

By Derek Baldwin, Senior Reporter


Dubai made history yet again on Tuesday when it opened 600 stores at once during the grand opening of the 12 million square-foot Dubai Mall, one of the largest malls ever built.

Eventually, Dubai Mall will offer shoppers 1,200 stores in total in a leisure destination that includes a 10-million

 aquarium and an Olympic-sized ice rink in a retail complex situated at the base of the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest tower.

The mall is also home to 160 eateries.

In a morning media tour shortly before the mall was opened to the public, Yousif Al Ali, Dubai Mall general manager, said the retail landmark is so big that its footprint is the equivalent of “50 football pitches”.

Al Ali said that Emaar was keen on combining modern design with Arab and Islamic architecture to help visitors “feel the past.”

One of the most visible links to the proud Arab tradition is the world’s largest Gold Souk, Al Ali said, that features a massive gold cupola surrounded by 220 stores.

In a statement, Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said the mall opening is a “confident affirmation of the strong economic fundamentals of the Dubai economy.”

Ali Alabbar said the new mall will “address the world-class shopping needs of a population of over two billion people in the catchment markets of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe .”

And while the minimalist style of Dubai Mall, described as “timeless” by one Emaar official appeared well received, the real star of the show was the new Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre.

Massive fish tank

When the curtain fell, cameras whirred at the sight of 20,000 aquatic animals gathered in a three-storey fish tank that was recently recognised by Guinness Book of World Records as having the “world’s largest acrylic panel”.

Al Ali said “this aquarium is our gift to Dubai and the Dubai people” noting that there is no charge to view the vast collection of sea life.

Damian Prendergast, aquarium general manager, said the front viewing panel is the largest in the world and measures 32.5 metres in length and 8.3 metres in height.
The acrylic glass is 750 millimetres thick.

Aquarium managers hope to fill the tank with a total of 33,000 creatures.

Prendergast said families will be thrilled with the 48-metre long glass tunnel that extends through the aquarium which “gets the public up close and personal to these animals.”
The tunnel will help educate visitors about life under the sea.

Forty sandsharks and three 200-kilogramme groupers are among the star attractions of the aquarium.

Upstairs above the tank, Discovery Centre also awaits families replete with a tropical jungle tour featuring otters and river rats and fresh water fish tanks.

A glass bottom boat will also soon be in operation to give visitors a “unique perspective” of the larger aquarium below.

While it is free to view the aquarium, there is a Dh15 cost to walk through the tunnel as well as a Dh50 cost per person to visit the Discovery Centre and the tunnel.

Olympic ice rink

Not far away, Emaar also unveiled its new Olympic-sized ice rink which can host up to 1,000 skaters during each of the five 2-hour sessions daily, said Gordon Kirk, ice rink general manager.

“The bulk of the time will be for public ice skating,” he said, adding that ice skates will be provided as part of the Dh50 admission cost because most people in Dubai do not own ice skates.

For those who don’t know how to skate, the ice rink will offer a five-week skating course.

On the retail side, meanwhile, Dubai Mall welcomed the opening of its two anchor stores Galleries Lafayette and Bloomingdales, both of which are marking their first entry into the Middle East .

More amenities are expected to open next year such as what’s called the family entertainment section which will include a 76,000 sq.. ft. indoor theme park and a 22-screen Cineplex, the largest movie house in Dubai .

Fast facts

• More than 13,800 tonnes of structural steel – more than that used to build the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France – was needed to construct Dubai Mall
• More than 1.9 million sq. ft. of stone and tile has been used to adorn the Dubai Mall
• More than 13,000 people are working in the mall
• To date, more than 1.38 million worker hours have been logged to build the Dubai Mall
(Source: Emaar Properties)

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