The Dubai Mall was opened in 2008. Image courtesy of Marcus.
The Dubai Mall was expanded in 2014 for the construction of Fashion Avenue. Image courtesy of Emaar Properties.
The Dubai aquarium tank is one of the biggest suspended aquariums in the world. Image courtesy of Mathias Apitz (München).

Dubai Mall is located in downtown Dubai, UAE, and one of the world’s biggest shopping malls. Developed by Emaar Properties, the mall was opened in November 2008 and is a major shopping destination in the country.

The mall is currently being expanded under the Zabeel expansion project, which will increase the mall’s footprint by 40%. Expected to be completed by December 2018, the expansion will enable the mall to attract more than 100 million visitors.

Dubai Mall location

Built on the shore of a 30-acre artificial lake in downtown Dubai, the mall is surrounded by the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall Hotel, the Lake Hotel, and the Lake Fountain.

Details of the Zabeel expansion project at Dubai Mall

The Zabeel expansion project involves the construction of ten podium levels of mixed-used, car park, and retail areas spread across 245,000m².

It also includes a 200m-long, 50m-wide retail bridge, which will connect the Dubai Mall over the upper Financial Centre road. Another road bridge connecting the mall to the existing upper Financial Centre road will also be built.

“Expected to be completed by December 2018, the expansion will enable the mall to attract more than 100 million visitors.”

The expansion is set to bring in three new key tenants, along with an increase in food and beverage areas and restaurants.

Dubai Mall design and features

The mall is spread over four floors and has an internal floor area of 5.9 million square feet. It hosts approximately 1,300 retail outlets along with more than 200 food and beverage outlets.

The mall was expanded in 2014 for the construction of a new Fashion Avenue between the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. The Fashion Avenue features more than 150 new luxury shopping and dining experiences along with a retractable fashion catwalk.

The mall features an all-weather shopping grove, an indoor adventure park, the souk (a marketplace) and an Olympic-size ice-skating rink. The souk is an area featuring jewellery outlets, and clothing and handicraft stores.

The ice-skating rink is located on the ground floor next to the souk. It has a seating capacity for 350 and can be used for concerts and functions.

An open-air streetscape called The Village is also part of the mall, which features tree-lined walkways, cafés, and restaurants. The mall also has a replica of the Dubai Creek Tower, which is made of aluminium and 3D-printed cladding elements weighing 3,000kg.

Attractions at Dubai Mall

The key attraction of the mall is its aquarium and underwater zoo. The aquarium is a ten million litre tank located on the ground level of the mall. It is designed as a 48m walkthrough tunnel, which gives visitors a 270° view.

The aquarium hosts more than 140 species, including 300 sharks and rays. Visitors can experience a glass-bottom boat ride, cage snorkelling and shark dives at the aquarium.

The underwater zoo is located on the second level, above the aquarium. It features different ecological zones namely the rainforest, rocky shore, and living ocean. The rocky shore houses penguins and spider crabs, while the rainforest houses catfish, piranha, otters, and water rats.

An 80,000ft² children’s edutainment zone named KidZania developed in partnership with Emaar Entertainment is also part of the mall.


The mall provides services such as free Wi-Fi, concierge lounge, sleep pods lounge, delivery service, and prayer rooms for customers. It features 95 elevators and 150 escalators.

The parking area consists of two buildings with ten levels of parking each and two levels of underground parking, which can accommodate 14,500 vehicles.

The mall is equipped with Senion StepInside IPS, which works similar to a GPS for indoor locations. The programme offers location services on mobile devices, along with integration with the mall’s smartphone app, which notifies visitors about ongoing offers and events in the mall.

Contractors involved

The mall’s construction was undertaken by a joint venture of Consolidated Contractors Company and Dutco Balfour Beatty.

DP Architects was the mall’s architect and was also involved in the urban planning, while Meinhardt Group was the lead engineer for the project.

Dutco Balfour Beatty (Dutco) was awarded a £214m ($353.6m) contract for the construction of the Fashion Avenue in 2014.

BKGulf was subcontracted by Dutco to provide mechanical and electrical services for the project.

Dutco was also contracted for the Zabeel expansion project, while JLW was appointed as the mechanical, electrical and plumbing design and build (MEP D&B) contractor.

Brookfield Multiplex is the project contractor, while Brewer Smith Brewer Group (BSBG) will act as the project architect for the expansion.

BG&E has been contracted for the construction of the mixed-use car park and retail podium.