Dubious Dubai: World's Largest Air Conditioned City to Be Built, Covering 48 Million Square Feet

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Rendering of plans for Mall of the World against a black sky


It's got everything, from hotels to hospitals to theaters to the world's largest mall, and a severe case of cognitive dissonance.

it's been a while since we used the headline "Dubious Dubai", looking at vaporware real estate projects that were off the scale in terms of size, cost, wretched excess and fossil fuel consumption. But Dubai is back in all its dubious glory, with the Mall of the World, described as "the world's first temperature controlled city."

Renderings of street scenes with skyscrapers and crosswalks

DesignBoom tells us that it's got the world's biggest mall connecting to 100 hotels and apartment buildings, with 7 kilometers (4.34 miles) of temperature controlled retail-lined streets, modelled after Barcelona's La Rambla, complete with a streetcar system running down the middle, with a little Oxford Street and Broadway thrown in and a big dose of synthetic Main Street USA. There is also a 3 million square foot "wellness zone" devoted to the latest hot international trend- medical tourism.

Sheik Mohammed notes the problems of doing development in such a hot climate.

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..... 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.

And it's sustainable!

While it is great that this is totally car-free, serviced by good old-fashioned streetcars, and a cute new urbanist retro vibe, it takes a lot of energy to air condition a city that size. Not to worry:

The project will follow the green and environmentally friendly guidelines of the Smart Dubai model. It will be built using state-of-the-art technology to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, ensuring high levels of environmental sustainability and operational efficiency.

180 million tourists every year

The mind boggles, or at least mine does, with a severe case of cognitive dissonance. Here we are, telling people to turn up their thermostats a few degrees and ride a bike, while in Dubai they are planning to fly 180 million tourists every year into an air conditioned city-sized pleasure palace. I don't know why we bother.