EghtesadOnline: Iran Mall, an all-Iranian monumental project slated to be one of the world's top five commercial and cultural complexes and the biggest in the Middle East, is to have its first of the two phases launched today.
The event coincides with the eve of the birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi, the last Shia Imam (May God Hasten His Reappearance), and the International Workers' Day.
According to its developers who addressed a press conference on Sunday, the multi-purpose commercial, cultural, religious and recreational complex's first phase is spread over an area of 1.4 million square meters, including 300,000 square meters occupied by commercial and manufacturing units.
When the project becomes fully operational, the total targeted area will be 1.95 million square meters, according to Financial Tribune.
The remaining 550,000 square meters are to be inaugurated as part of the second phase by the end of the fiscal 2020-21, announced Ala Mir Mohammad Sadeqi, Iran Mall's chairman of the board of trustees, and Jalal Rasoulof, CEO of Ayandeh Bank—the private Iranian bank that has been the chief financer of the project.
Located in Tehran's District 22 alongside the Hemmat Highway, Iran Mall was designed after two years of studies and took about six years to build. It aims to offer visitors a bold blend of traditional and modern Iranian and Islamic architecture and culture.
"I remember when I was working at the Chamber of Commerce after the Islamic Revolution [of 1979], we would take foreign guests to Tehran's Grand Bazaar because there was no other place to shop. So the Iran Mall was built with the goal of upholding the Iranian reputation and becoming a source of national pride," Sadeqi said.
In addition to about 200 restaurants, several gigantic hypermarkets, a five star-plus hotel with 400 rooms and state-of-the-art facilities, Iran Mall will host a major Carrefour hypermarket.
"Many Iranians travel abroad each year at high expenses and many of those trips are specially for shopping in major malls. So the idea of the designers of this project was to redirect a portion of these travels inside the country, which would not only save a lot of foreign exchange, but also create jobs and boost development," Rasoulof said.
The mall has 52 access points, including tunnels, bridges, underpasses and ramps. Negotiations are near conclusion on the prospects of establishing a direct metro line to the mall, which is slated to be launched in about 18 months.
Considering its location, the mall is expected to annually serve 20 million visitors.
Iran Mall's cultural facilities, including 40 cinema units—12 of which boast 1,800 seats each, will be inaugurated in the first phase.
The complex will house sports areas that offer facilities in 15 fields of sports. The longest health road of the region with a length of 2.5 kilometers will be located in the complex.
It has planned multiple conference halls and a book garden spread over 3,300 square meters, which will offer 67,000 titles and host a major bookstore.
Many of Iran Mall's major buildings are directly influenced by the country's rich history spanning thousands of years, many eras and dynasties. For instance, the Iranian Bazaar in the complex is designed to symbolize Iranian and Islamic culture. It is slated to become the biggest traditional bazaar constructed since the Safavid dynasty of the 16th-18th century over an area of 1 hectare.
The bazaar will consist of shops selling world-renowned Persian carpets, dry fruits and nuts, handicrafts and antiques, apart from traditional sherbet houses instead of coffee shops.
Iran Mall is to host the country's biggest fairgrounds with an area of 42,000 square meters and take that title away from Tehran's International Fairgrounds.
In addition to places of worship and a grand mosque with an area of 1,200 square meters, the complex will provide a variety of banking facilities, a roofed amusement park with an area of 10,000 square meters and a retirement home accommodating 300 elderly people.
The megaproject is also important in that it marks one of the first major realizations of the main goal set for the current Iranian year that started on March 21 and pursues the motto of "Supporting Iranian Products".
As Rasoulof outlined on Sunday, about 500 Iranian contractors working closely with 15,000 to 25,000 people participated in the project.
"Foreign advisors of the project didn't believe that we could continue our work during the sanctions, but we did and tried to do most of the work using Iranian facilities. Even as we were forced to import some goods and sanctions would increase our costs, we managed to make progress under those circumstances," he said.
Ayandeh Bank's CEO said Iran Mall has also done much in terms of job creation.
At the time of its inauguration, he added, at least 15,000 to 20,000 people will be working on Iran Mall while 3,000 to 4,000 indirect jobs will be created when the whole project comes on stream.
According to Rasoulof, the Iran Mall Commercial Company, the Ayandeh-owned firm constructing the project, is a publicly traded company established under the license of Central Bank of Iran and the Money and Credit Council, Iran's top financial decision-making body.
"A portion of the shares of the company have been sold and after the project is inaugurated, we will offer the shares in the capital market and cede the ownership of the project as Ayandeh Bank. A portion of the financing of the project was accepted by a number of contractors that worked with us in Iran Mall, so the resources of the bank were less constrained this way," Rasoulof concluded.