The world’s largest Ferris wheel is part of the Dh6-billion Bluewaters Island project near Jumeirah Beach Residence. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In a country where shopping is a favourite pastime for residents with high disposable incomes, there is no shortage of malls, shopping centres and boutiques.

Every so often, a new development is being announced, be it a mega shopping complex on a man-made island or a series of retail shops to complement another larger-than-life landmark.

Between  2017 and 2020 alone, at least four mega developments that are currently under construction in the UAE are scheduled for completion, and they are expected to deliver more than 3,000 shops.

The developments include malls, as well as leisure and recreation facilities, that cost as much as $1.8 billion (Dh6.6 billion) to build. And all of these projects have one goal in common: to cash in on the spending power of UAE residents and visitors.

In 2016, shopping malls in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the emirates, attracted more visitors than ever, with footfall numbers posting a 5.8 per cent increase, thanks mainly to the huge influx of tourists, shopping promotions and events, and a tax-free regime.

Retailers in the UAE generated more than $50 billion in revenues in 2016 and, as consumers are expected to continue opening their wallets, sales will rise further over the next few years.

According to an analysis by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sales turnover is projected to surpass $71 billion by 2021, up from $56.6 billion at the end of 2016.

“Demand within the UAE’s retail sector remained steady [in 2016], supported by a 5.8 per cent year-on-year increase in footfall within shopping malls. This trend was supported by a rise in the number of tourists, the absence of sales tax, in addition to the expansion of sales events, promotions and shopping festivals,” the chamber said in a report.

BNC Construction Intelligence, which issued a report on Monday for the Big 5 event in Dubai, has identified four more UAE projects that are currently underway and may further boost spending numbers.

Deira Islands Mall - Deira Island

Project type:  Retail facilities
Project value:  USD 1.8 billion
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date:  December, 2020
City/country:  Dubai, UAE
Developer : Nakheel
Highlights:  The project is a three-storey shopping mall with 620,000 square metres of retail, dining and entertainment space at Deira Islands. Its 2.9 million square feet of gross leasable area can accommodate 3,000 shops.

Dubai Eye - Bluewaters Island Development

Project type: Leisure and recreation facilities
Project value: USD 272 million
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date: October, 2017
City/country: Dubai, UAE
Developer :  Meraas Holding
Highlights:  While it’s not a giant shopping complex per se, the development will include the construction of retail spaces, as well as residential, entertainment and hospitality offerings on an artificial island with a 210-metre Ferris wheel as a centrepiece.

Abu Dhabi Mall - Al Maryah Central

Project type: Retail facilities
Project value: USD 1 billion
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date: December, 2018
City/country: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Developer : Gulf Related
Highlights:  The project includes the construction of a 2.3 million-square-foot shopping centre, which will offer 400 retail stores, a food market, 145 cafes and restaurants and a premier health club.

Silicon Park - Dubai Silicon Oasis

Project Type: Mega urban development
Project value: USD 354 million
Project stage: Under construction
Completion date: December, 2018
City/country: Dubai, UAE
Developer : Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority
Highlights: The project includes the construction of a shopping centre, 25,000 square metres of commercial space, a 115-room business hotel and underground parking for more than 2,500 cars. These facilities will be within a new integrated smart city at Dubai Silicon Oasis.