Work has started on a massive expansion of The Dubai Mall, as part of plans to eventually welcome over 100 million annual visitors to the mall.
The first phase expansion will see the world's biggest shopping mall grow by 1 million sq ft, the with emphasis on expanding the fashion portfolio of the mall.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said: "The Dubai Mall expansion project builds on Dubai's new Tourism Vision 2020 announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and the city's focus on offering high-end retail and leisure attractions for residents and visitors from around the world.
"Our strategy to create compelling new retail and lifestyle experiences also supports the city's growth outlook of further strengthening its core economic sectors, including retail, tourism and hospitality. The current expansion will redefine Dubai's retail sector, cementing its reputation as a global hub for the latest in fashion."
He said the mall welcomed over 65 million visitors in 2012, and a record 20 million visitors in the first three months of this year.
To be expanded further, the Fashion Avenue in The Dubai Mall will add new and personalised flagship stores of the world's most renowned brands, a statement said.
The expansion will also bring in other high-end lifestyle and entertainment brands to The Dubai Mall, it added.
Emaar said visitors will continue to have full access to the mall's 1,200 stores, the 200 F&B outlets and leisure attractions, as work continues to add new features.
Modifications have been made to the Fashion Avenue to assure a seamless experience for visitors including an alternate Fashion Avenue entrance and valet parking area, it said.
Retail sales at The Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping destination, rose by 24 percent during 2012 compared to the previous year, developer Emaar said earlier this year.
More than 200 nationalities visited The Dubai Mall, a statement said, adding that the total number of visitors in 2012 surpassed annual tourists to New York City (52 million) and Los Angeles (41 million).