Dubai: Owners of Sahara Centre yesterday announced plans to invest Dh4 billion to double the size of Sharjah's landmark shopping mall and create a whole new 'city within a city'.

It is expected to be the largest project carried out in Sharjah over the next five years and provide a major boost to the emirate's plans to increase tourism and attract further investment.

As well as increasing the size of the largest mall in Sharjah by 60 per cent to 1.8 million square feet, the Sahara City project will see the construction of seven towers ranging in height from 27 to 33 floors, nearly half a million square feet of new office space, 23 floors of parking and a 27-floor hotel.

"This is a very significant investment by the owners of Al Nahda Real Estate and trading, and reflects our commitment to the UAE and Sharjah in particular," said Al Nahda Real Estate Managing Director Jean Pierre Nammour.

"It will ensure that Sahara Centre will remain one of the leading malls in the UAE offering a complete shopping and entertainment experience. The project includes expanding the ground, first and second floors of the mall by half a million square feet in order to meet the current demand for retail space in Sahara Centre and allow exciting new international brands to become part of the Sahara Centre experience. It will also enable Sahara Centre's signature attraction Adventureland to double in size."

Above the mall will be a hotel tower offering 258 serviced suites and three new residential towers with more than 1,000 apartments - consisting of both two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.

In order to cope with the increased number of visitors and the residents of Sahara City, parking spaces in and around the mall will more than quadruple in number to nearly 4,500. The extensive building project will be located in the vacant lot near the Marks and Spencer side of Sahara Centre.

Other components of the Sahara City developments include three other towers, the West Gate Twin Towers and the North Gate Tower.

The West Gate Twin Towers, to be located on the Debenhams side of Sahara Centre, will have 14 floors for offices, 20 residential floors with 200 apartments, and a multi-storey car park of 1,000 parking spaces.

The North Gate Tower, containing a further 220 apartments is planned opposite Sahara Centre, and include a new Dh3 million pedestrian bridge.