New Dubai mega mall to be Middle East’s biggest (lost opportunity)

unsustainable DubaiPlans were announced today for the new Deira Mall in Dubai, which will be the largest in terms of leasable space in the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE). Development of the largest mall in the Middle East presents a blank canvas on which the developers could paint a green masterpiece, but there is not a word regarding sustainable design in the press releases from master developer Nakheel, nor selected constructor UNEC (United Engineering Construction).

Deira Mall will  feature more than 1,000 shops, cafes, restaurants and entertainment outlets across 4.5 million square feet of leasable space, and a 3.8 million square foot multi-story car park with 8,400 parking bays.The project was awarded under a contract worth US$1.14 billion. Construction will begin immediately, with completion planned in 2021.

At completion, it will be the biggest mall in the Middle East, in a zip code that offers the most expensive bottle of water, underwater tennis courts, and an indoor rainforest.

world's biggest mall

The mall will be the centerpiece of Deira Central, Nakheel’s nine million square foot mixed-use community at the heart of Deira Islands, containing 50 residential and hotel towers, retail, mosques and fitness facilities, all set in extensive parkland.

A state-of-the-art, retractable glass roof is being billed as the mall’s star attraction. It will bring natural light into the complex and allow for open-air shopping during cooler months. Splashy feature, but how much additional cooling will be required in warmer months to offset the heat gain caused by the acreage of this glass roof? How much water will it take to clean the glass? And how will it perform after being pummeled by a few sandstorms?

Deep pockets can buy access to state-of-the-art materials and technologies that can slash resource consumption, generate clean energy, and uplift the human condition. Instead, this project seems satisfied to progress the status quo in UAE design wherein size, not smarter design, is the winning metric.

Nakheel’s Chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah, said, “Nakheel’s existing and upcoming developments are playing a vital role in delivering the Government of Dubai’s vision. Deira Mall combines cutting edge design, world-class facilities and a stunning location to bring a new dimension to Dubai’s retail sector. With its top-flight shopping, dining and entertainment offering, the mall will provide endless attractions for residents of Deira Islands, the wider UAE community and the millions of tourists who visit Dubai each year.”

Dubai has set out ambitious sustainability targets. The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims to provide 7 per cent of the city’s energy through renewable sources by 2020. This target will increase to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050. The city is also encouraging private sectors and individuals to voluntarily install solar power on their properties, which will be mandatory for all buildings in Dubai by 2030.

Dubai Municipality did launch Green Building Regulations & Specifications for Buildings in the Emirate of Dubai, which form a baseline but are not a rating system such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED) or Abu Dhabi’s Estidama Pearl Rating System.

The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) does not mandate conservation, instead offering helpful tips the sustainably-minded private citizens.

There is no information available as to how the Deira Mall will advance Dubai’s goal of becoming one of the planet’s most sustainable cities, a target underpinned by the emirate’s role as host of Expo 2020. A decade ago Dubai had one of the largest ecological footprints of any city in the world.  By 2050 it wants to have one of the smallest.  How do projects like Deira Mall get it there?


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