At least Dh40 billion will be spent on infrastructure and transport facilities at the Bawadi hospitality and retail development, CEO Arif Mubarak has revealed.
And he said a 10km-long underground shopping area connecting all Bawadi's elements would become the longest retail boulevard in the world.
Visitors will be able to walk from one end to the other or use any the three modes of transport available. The whole project will be interlinked by buses, a personal rapid transport system and trams.
Mubarak told Emirates Business that work on the infrastructure was proceeding at a steady pace and would be completed by the first quarter of 2010.
The facilities being built include electricity substations, utilities such as irrigation, sewage treatment plants and drainage, roads, tunnels, interchanges and a mass transit system by 2015. "A minimum of 20 per cent of the overall investment in Bawadi is expected to be spent on infrastructure," said Mubarak. "We have spent the last two years finalising the design and detailed plans are being drawn up to create a comprehensive transport network both within Bawadi and connecting it to Dubai," said Mubarak.
The development will have 51 hotels and more than 60,000 rooms when fully complete plus a range of other amenities including 1,500 food and beverage outlets and convention centres, theatres and the world's biggest shopping area at 40 million square foot of retail space – four times the current Dubai retail space to be the largest integrated hospitality, leisure and entertainment and retail projects in the world.
"The underground boulevard will include shops, restaurants and cafés and will provide a pathway for visitors to reach any part of Bawadi. We are working on the underground boulevard design in a way that the temperature will remain cool as no space will be exposed to direct sunlight. The whole area will be air-conditioned to facilitate those who want to walk around the various components of Bawadi.
"Various proposals are being put forward including the use of district cooling plants. We will need a massive amount of cool air to keep the temperature in the underground boulevard low and district cooling plants may not be sufficient. Selecting the source of the cool air for such a massive area are still under way," he said.
Seven substations of 132KV capacity have been awarded for construction and will be built during the first phase of development, which will be completed by the end of 2011.
Bawadi's masterplan has been drawn up conceptually by RTKL with WS Atkins detailing the masterplan, while Africon has been involved in the transport plans. The project will be developed in five phases in line with the growth of tourism in the UAE. The proposed personal rapid transport system will be similar to the ones being implemented worldwide such as at London's Heathrow airport.
"The transport network will connect the whole of Dubailand, including all the theme parks, with Bawadi. We are trying to incorporate the most advanced practices to integrate pedestrian and vehicular movement."
Bawadi was announced in 2006 as a Dh100bn hospitality and tourism project but has grown in size during the last year.
Its overall budget has more than doubled to Dh200bn.
Mubarak said the design concept has been completely revised to provide something entirely different. The main attraction will be the world's largest hotel, Asia-Asia.
The first hotel to open will be the Desert Gate, which will welcome guests by the end of 2011. It will be followed by phase one of Asia-Asia in 2012, and the second Desert Gate hotel at the other end of the development is scheduled to open by the end of 2013.
Bawadi, a member of Tatweer, has entered into joint venture partnerships with Emaar and Al Ghurair Investments and many more partnerships are planned.
Emaar-Bawadi joint venture will invest Dh60bn in building nine hotels and serviced apartments as well as providing land for shopping malls and other commercial premises and cultural attractions. On Saturday Emaar Bawadi launched the 70 million sq ft Asmaran project.
The Dh10bn Ghurair-Bawadi joint venture will develop one of the largest shopping mall, which will be completed in two phases.