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A City of the Future?

Builders in Dubai plan the world’s first completely indoor city

By Hailee Romain

The Mall of the World will be big enough to host more than 180 million people annually. Image courtesy Dubai Holdings.

Dubai is a major city in the United Arab Emirates. Image credit Jim McMahon.

In some places around the world, summer heat can be brutal. Sometimes it’s so hot you don’t even want to go outside! But city planners in Dubai (doo-BUY), a major city in the Middle Eastern country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have come up with their own solution to summer temperatures, which there can soar to over 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over the next 10 years, developers plan to construct a 48-million-square-foot indoor building complex called the “Mall of the World.” The complex will be fully enclosed and completely climate-controlled, meaning it will be kept at a comfortable, steady temperature, allowing visitors to escape the blistering heat.


The goal of this “indoor city” is to draw visitors to the UAE even during the scorching summer months. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the vice president of the UAE, explains: “Tourism is a key driver of [the UAE’s] economy, and we aim to make the UAE an attractive destination all year long.”

The complex will be big enough to host more than 180 million people annually. These visitors will have access to the indoor city’s hotels, health-care centers, shops, entertainment, and more than 4 miles of enclosed avenues.

In addition, the developers plan to build the world’s largest indoor theme park. A retractable (able to be drawn back) glass dome will cover the park. The dome will open up in the winter months, when the weather is cooler.

Plans for the mall also include a cultural center, with sections modeled after other cities around the globe. These include a theater district fashioned after New York’s Broadway, a shopping area resembling the popular Oxford Street in London, and a pedestrian walkway that echoes Barcelona’s busy street La Rambla.


Some people worry about the massive amount of energy it will take to keep the complex cool. Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, are used to produce the electricity needed for air-conditioning. But burning fossil fuels produces large quantities of carbon emissions that can be harmful to the environment.

In addition, building the Mall of the World won’t be cheap. It is estimated that the development will cost more than $6.8 billion over the next 10 years.

But this isn’t Dubai’s first over-the-top venture—in fact, the city is known for its grand-scale projects. It boasts the tallest building in the world, the biggest flower garden in the world, one of the largest aquariums on the planet, and a human-made island in the shape of a palm tree.

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