Dubai Mall — a design flagship like no other

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Opened in November 2008, the Dubai Mall will set precedents across the board of scale, luxury, design and retail offering.

Shopping malls built on a grand scale are now a significant feature in many cities across the world; from east to west across the globe, they are an important retail and leisure destination for people looking to shop and relax. However there is one mall that stands apart, not only in size, but in the sheer variety and scope of its attraction to visitors – and that is the recently opened Dubai Mall.


Located with the Burj Dubai (the world’s tallest man-made structure) the Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest shopping malls. It has a floor area of almost 170 000 m², and a canyon like structure of shopping halls and corridors which houses over 1200 global retailers, many of whom are making their debut in the Middle East.

Alongside the retailers are feature attractions that include the world’s largest Gold Souk, a fashion catwalk, the region’s first SEGA indoor theme park, 160 food and beverage outlets, a 250-room luxury hotel and twenty two cinema screens. Also on-site is an Olympicsized ice rink and an aquarium containing 33,000 marine animals.

The Dubai Mall’s Gold Souk with 220 retailers is the world’s largest commercial quarter for gold and jewellery.


Because of its importance as a hub of commerce, entertainment and service, the Mall is destined to be a design flagship of the Dubai economy. As a result, a lighting scheme was created that would fully integrate within the overall architectural design and create a distinctive interior would prove inviting and attractive to customers around the clock, and throughout the year.

Designed by Project Lighting Design (PLD) the scheme uses a Helvar Imagine system to provide lighting control and scene-setting for all public areas – with eye-catching and effective results – in zones such as the plazas, Gold Souk, aquarium, ice rink and the many walkways.

A lighting scheme of this size required a manufacturer of Helvar’s reputation to meet the demands of not only the lighting control, but the logistics of managing a project of this size. The local technical support that Helvar could provide to the whole project team was invaluable throughout the project. Helvar back up extended to the design, installation and commissioning of the system, and will be ongoing thanks to Helvar’s continuing presence in the region.

There are 370 Imagine enclosures controlling almost 5000 circuits of combined dimming and switching. Operating with maximum effectiveness and reliability, the PLD designed scheme uses a combination of load types including RCL’s DR3 fan-cooled projectors and CDM-T lamps to create an innovative luminaire solution. For optimum efficiency the DMX signals are handled by the Imagine router which has the capability to tilt the projectors at specific angles to match light direction and output with time of day and ambience.

The powerful Helvar Designer software suite allowed the programming of the various tilt angles and positions in an efficient time-saving fashion.

The original outline lighting scheme for the Dubai Mall won the Best Use of Lighting in a Retail Environment at the first annual Retail Future Project Awards. The award valued the Mall’s cutting- edge lighting technology that enhances the quality, ambience, and productivity levels of its retail environment. The judges praised the four key ideas of Dubai Mall lighting, namely diffused lighting; filtered lighting; aquatic lighting and translucent lighting – themes which considered natural lighting effects arising from architectural design.

Lighting Designer: Project Lighting Design (PLD)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates