Visitors take a look at a scale model of the Mall of the World project by Dubai Holding at Cityscape Global 2014. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The first phase of the Dh25 billion Mall of the World will be complete in three years flat from the moment digging starts on site. All options — land sales, joint ventures or bank facilities — will be considered in meeting the funding needed for the mega development, conceived as the ultimate year-round destination. Based on current projections, half of the development costs will be met in-house, according to a top official with Dubai Holding, the developer.

An estimated 180 million visitors are expected annually once the full development opens up.

The first phase will overlook the Shaikh Zayed Road. “It is quite likely that the major component of the retail portion at the Mall will take up Phase One... given that it takes us closer to the Expo 2020 event,” said Khalfan Bel Houl, Vice-President–Strategy at Dubai Holding. “But we will only have a clearer picture from the first quarter of 2015. We currently have industry-specific consultants advising us how to use the land available.”

Complexity is there in abundant measure, and that comes not just from creating it within a temperature-controlled environment. There is the fact that it will host the world’s largest indoor theme park, plus there is the substantial hospitality component and the wellness and cultural zones.

Putting these components in place would require the better part of 10 years. As to how many phases there will be and which component falls in which, one has to wait until early 2015.

The initial approaches have been made with potential partners at Cityscape, senior officials said. “But at this stage we are not selling any plots or creating joint ventures,” Bel Houl said. “We are not competing with any of the established bigger malls in Dubai — we believe there’s enough space to absorb more competition.”

It was initially thought that the Mall would be located in MBR City. But Bel Houl said the shift to an off Shaikh Zayed Road location would help with developing some of the components such as wellness. “We still retain the land and there are other options that we could always use it for,” Bel Houl said.