Dubai: Mall of the Emirates will undergo its largest expansion programme with just under Dh500 million to be invested in new space, it was announced on Sunday.

The project will see the addition of increased facilities for shopping, dining and parking, and will be completed by the first quarter of 2010.

The expansion was announced on Sunday by the Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Group, which operates the mall.

Since its launch in 2005 the mall, located in the heart of New Dubai, has emerged as a world-class landmark with the region's residents and, growing tourist community.

This year the mall was voted the Superbrands "Brand of the Year", and won the Best Mall Award at the Grazia Style Awards.

The expansion will add several important facilities to the mall structure, including an additional 10,500 square metres of gross leasable area for retailers and other service providers, a direct link for Dubai Metro commuters and increased parking to accommodate 750 vehicles.

No surprise

Mall vice-president Fuad Mansoor Sharaf said: "This major investment for the UAE's favourite shopping destination is imperative in order to meet the increasing demand from newer retailers, who seek a presence in the mall.

"Since we opened in 2005, we have broken many records, some of which were only meant to be achieved much later.

"With a footfall averaging over 2.4 million a month, it is no surprise that more and more retailers want to be a part of Mall of the Emirates."

Home to more than 460 retailers, Mall of the Emirates currently incorporates several iconic brands. These include SkiDubai, the Middle East's first indoor ski resort and snow park, Kempinski Mall of the Emirates and a five-star hotel.

The new building will expand the Mall of the Emirates luxury brand portfolio, something that Fuad Sharaf is keen to develop.

"Our mall has emerged as a well-established shopping and leisure destination and already incorporates a host of top attractions as well as the most popular retail brands in the market," he said. The development will be carried out in phases, starting with the mall extension.

This will be followed by car parking upgrades, adding approximately 750 new spaces for vehicles and the Metro link access, which has an anticipated completion date of Sep-tember 2009, to coincide with the scheduled opening of the new service.

"When complete, the expansion will offer customers a truly VIP experience, with dedicated parking facilities, stunning interior architecture, dining and a mix of haute couture flagship fashion stores," Sharaf said.