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| 14 October, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Dubai Holding's $20bln Jumeirah Central put on hold

Dubai Holding’s $20 billion Jumeirah Central project will include cable cars to whizz people between skyscrapers, the world's largest outdoor art gallery, driverless pods and the region's "largest standalone department store".
Image used for illustrative purposes.

Dubai Holding’s $20 billion Jumeirah Central project will include cable cars to whizz people between skyscrapers, the world's largest outdoor art gallery, driverless pods and the region's "largest standalone department store". Image used for illustrative purposes.

Gecko Media/Mosh LafDubai Holding/Handout via Thomson Reuters Zawyauente

Dubai Holding says it is focusing on other projects that will be ready in time for Expo 2020

Jumeirah Central, the 74.3 billion UAE dirham ($20.2 billion) master development launched just over a year ago on one of Dubai's most prominent sites, has been put on hold, Zawya can reveal.

The project, which was announced just ahead of the Cityscape Global conference in September last year, is currently being reassessed by master developer Dubai Holding, with a number of senior executives who had been dedicated to delivering the scheme leaving the organisation or being redeployed to work on other projects, sources revealed.

Morgan Parker, the chief operating officer of Jumeirah Central who was recruited to lead its delivery, has resigned from the company. He is set to leave by the end of the year.

Jumeirah Central was set to be built on a 47 million sq ft site opposite Mall of the Emirates. It was due to contain 278 buildings, housing one million sq ft of retail space, 8 million sq ft of offices, 7,200 hotel rooms, 40 new entertaiment attractions, 37 plazas and 33 parks. It was also set to contain a major new transport hub connecting the metro, trams and buses, and have overhead 'gondolas' similar to cable cars linking to three central hubs.

Phase one alone was expected to cost more than $6.5 billion to build and was set to house about one-third of the total development, with the first of 69 buildings planned for completion by 2020.

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However, following the arrival of a new management team at Dubai Holding, including new chairman Abdulla Al Habbai and chief executive Edris Al Rafi - both of whom joined from government-owned developer Meraas Holding earlier this year - the project is no longer considered to be a top priority.

Since Al Habbai's arrival, Dubai Holding has subsequently announced a series of other, major projects including the $1.7 billion Marsa Al Arab tourism project containing two offshore islands near Burj Al Arab, the $1.36 billion Emirates Towers Business Park and the $1.5 billion Dubai Food Park, which will be built in Dubai Wholesale City.

In an email statement to Zawya, a Dubai Holding spokesperson said: “Dubai Holding is prioritising projects that will be ready for Expo 2020 Dubai and those that will help draw tourists to the Emirate.

"As a result, we are currently focusing our resources on projects such as Marsa Al Arab. We are still committed to Jumeirah Central but the project is currently being revaluated to meet expected future market demand," the spokesperson added.

"This decision has resulted in an organisational restructuring that will see Morgan Parker stepping down from his role by the end of this year.”

It is the second time that Dubai Holding has halted plans for a major development on the site. Prior to the launch of Jumeirah Central last year, the site had been earmarked as the location for Mall of the World - a $21 billion project announced in 2014 that was set to contain the world's biggest shopping mall, a theme park and 100 hotels and serviced apartments containing a total of 20,000 rooms.

A few days before the launch of Jumeirah Central, Dubai Holding issued a statement saying that the scheme was being relocated to a site on Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Road, where it said "the project's positive tourism contribution can be fully realised".

© ZAWYA 2017