Dubai: The new Mohammad Bin Rashid City is expected to encourage public-private partnerships, increase foreign investment inflows and further boost growth in the retail and tourism sectors, top business leaders and analysts said.
“This is really a bid to make Dubai the capital of the Arab world, that’s the bottom line. It’s got the airports and the port facilities, now this is an attempt to take it to the next step, to become the equivalent of Las Vegas and become the tourism centre of the Arab world,” Dr Nasser Saeedi, former Chief Economist of Dubai International Financial Centre and former minister of economy and trade of Lebanon said.
The ambitious project could become an example of public-private partnerships (PPP) at work.
“The most important thing to create employment is PPP. It will encourage the private sector from all over the Arab countries to invest. India and china could also invest,” Saeedi said.
With the largest mall in the world and the largest family leisure centre in the region planned within the city, it has significant impact on the retail and tourism sectors in the long term, analysts say.
“There will be more growth and competition, but also great opportunity for retail and tourism business in Dubai… there will be a great opportunity for new brands to enter the region with this announcement,” said David Macadam, regional director, head of retail at Jones Lang Lasalle.
Growth in tourism sector by 13 percent annually and footfall of 44.5 million visitors to Dubai Mall alone in the first nine months of 2012, justify the increased capacity of the planned project, Macadam said.
“If Dubai is successful in its bid for the Expo 2020, it will need to expand its infrastructure to absorb the large numbers expected from the expo,” Saeedi told Gulf News.
Hani Al Hameli, secretary-general of the Dubai Economic Council, called The Mohammed Bin Rashid City a “qualitative leap in infrastructure for the leading sectors in Dubai” that include tourism, retail, entrepreneurship and exhibitions.
“The countries in the region are moving within an intensely competitive economic environment and therefore without acknowledging the challenges of globalization and competitiveness among major business partners in all sectors, the region cannot sustain growth and increase prosperity for its citizens,” he said in an emailed statement.
Asked if the project was financially feasible amid the current global and regional economic situation, Saeedi said: “They did not put a timeline on it so this is definitely a long-term plan…in that sense, it can be funded,” he said adding that a mix of private funding and government revenue from high oil prices will make liquidity available.
“The questions is: will there be an investment environment there to make the private sector play its part?” he added.
The project marks the beginning of “Dubai 3.0” development plan—“a new grand city for family tourism, innovation & business entrepreneurship,” His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted yesterday.