Nigerian urban planner, Yacoob Abiodun, has called on his professional colleagues to protect the elements of physical development plans and avoid them being distorted. Similarly, he emphasised that, in the process of preparation of blueprints for cities, planners should define what such city wants to showcase.
He spoke against the backdrop of developments on Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where officials last year unveiled plans to build “Mall of the World”, an expansive climate-controlled shopping complex, in an apparent bid to maintain the city’s status as a tourist destination. According to Abiodun, Dubai’s concept of planning is primarily to make the city a tourism hub all-year-round for all tourists from all countries of the world.
His words: “Tourism is an economic booster and revenue-generating for any city government. With due respect, most of our Development Plans lack focus, vision, mission and target of achievement! The elements of the plans are not usually protected from abuse and that is why you have cases where the land uses are tampered with contrary to what the plans recommend. Even the government and town planning officials that are supposed to enforce compliance of the master plans, are the chief violators. It is sad.
“For our cities to develop orderly and user/investment-friendly, each must define what such city wants to showcase the way Dubai did. Dubai’s plan emphasised tourism and it is working perfectly for the city because all hands are on deck to accomplish that task.
Indeed, Dubai is already home to the tallest tower in the world, so it was just a matter of time until the glitzy emirate planned another record-breaking construction.
Its next project involves building the largest shopping mall on the planet, complete with climate-controlled streets, the world’s largest indoor theme park and 100 hotels and apartments.
In fact, the ambitious emirate has dubbed the project a ‘temperature-controlled pedestrian city’.
Occupying 48 million square feet, the Mall of the World will also contain health resorts, theatres, a Celebration Steet modelled on the Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona and ‘retail streets network’ that will stretch over four-and-a-half miles.
The grand project is part of Dubai’s bid to become a year-round tourism destination, despite soaring temperatures in summer that can reach nearly 50C.
The new mall, which will be a city-within-a-city, will be the emirate’s chance to attract visitors even in the height of the summer, by providing a completely climate-controlled experience.
The shopping mall itself will occupy eight million square feet, housed below a glass dome, with other attractions extending beyond the central shopping area.
In the cooler winter months, the dome will open, allowing people to shop in the fresh air, closing as the summer heats up.
It is thought the huge construction will attract 180 million visitors a year and developers hope it will secure Dubai’s futures as a tourism hub.
The emirate’s ruler and vice president of the UAE Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said: “This project complements our plans to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision.
“The growth in family and retail tourism underpins the need to enhance Dubai’s tourism infrastructure as soon as possible.
“We are confident of our economy’s strength, optimistic about our country’s future and we continue to broaden our vision.”
The supersized mall will be built near the existing Mall of the Emirates, already one of the largest shopping centres in the world, with its own indoor ski slope.
It will also be a short drive to the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,717ft.
The idea is to create a cultural area, with theatres hosting shows at West End and Broadway levels, as well as a network of streets that will be entirely climate controlled.
Sheikh Mohammad stated: “Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism – tourism is key driver of our economy and we aim to make the UAE an attractive destination all-year long.
“This is why we will start working on providing pleasant temperature-controlled environments during the summer months.”