The West just can’t compete when it comes to massive, centralized luxury shopping centers. All of the biggest malls around the globe are located in Asia and the Middle East. The top-five tally below is based on the amount of a mall’s gross leasable area: the area of floor space that can be rented out to retailers, measured in square feet. The numbers are the most recent available.
However, just a note for the next round of giant-mall calculations in the near future: With a gross leasable area set to come in at a mind-boggling 8 million square feet upon completion, Dubai Square in the United Arab Emirates will soon overshadow today’s biggest shopping centers, according to Gulfnews.com.
5. ICONSIAM – Bangkok, Thailand
With a sprawling 5.65 million square feet of gross leasable area, ICONSIAM sneaks into the top five among the planet’s palatial places to shop until you drop. ICONSIAM is a mixed-use development on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. Featuring shopping, naturally, along with residences and attractions, the luxury setting offers seven different dining ‘zones’ with some 100 restaurants from which to choose. The public front of the project is River Park, a community space that serves as a sort of courtyard for the city, spread out along the winding Chao Phraya River.
Golden Resources Mall – Beijing, China
Golden Resources Mall, also called Jin Yuan, is a luxury shopping mall located near the northwest Fourth Ring Road in Beijing, People's Republic of China. When it opened its doors in 2004, it was the largest mall by gross leasable area, with 6 million square feet. That largesse earned it the nickname ‘Great Mall of China,’ but only a year later, it lost the top spot. Already, it has fallen to number four globally, but in Beijing it’s still the reigning super-mall of choice.
SM City Tianjin – Tianjin, China
At 5.8 million square feet, SM City Tianjin is owned and operated by Philippines-based SM Prime Holdings. The company operates a chain of mega shopping malls, with 70 complexes in its home country, plus an additional seven in China. SM City Tianjin, around the size of three football fields, is now the largest mall owned by SM Prime (although planned expansion of existing properties in the Philippines may soon change that). SM City Tianjin is the latest landmark building in the Tianjin Airport Economic Area within the emerging Binhai New Area, the largest free trade zone in Northern China, located about two hours from Beijing.
Iran Mall – Tehran, Iran
With just more than 7 million square feet, Iran Mall in Tehran tentatively takes number two on the global list, since not all of that footage is officially open yet. Phase one opened in 2018, but it’s not scheduled for completion until sometime in 2020. Meanwhile, according to Worldarchitechture.org, the massive complex is already the largest Middle Eastern mega-mall, and it took five years of construction from groundbreaking to opening. It is divided into areas allocated for cultural facilities, public spaces, and recreation zones; commercial and retail spaces; parking; and lodging. The upscale, 24-hour complex is located near Chitgar Park, a popular wooded park in west Tehran.
New South China Mall – Dongguan, China
Some 7.1 million square feet of gross leasable space puts this mall on top of the shopping whoppers of the world. However, that title comes with a serious caveat in terms of how many transactions actually take place within the New South China Mall in Dongguan. Since its opening in 2005, the largest shopping mall in the world has remained almost totally vacant, with few retailers and only a trickle of customer traffic. This has earned it the dubious title ‘South China Ghost Mall’ in the media and from critics of the so-far failed project.