In Southeast Asia, albino "white" elephants were considered especially prestigious and often owned by kings. The gift of a white elephant, while considered a blessing, also landed the recipient with a fairly useless beast which would cost a lot to house and feed.
A white elephant gradually became to idiomatically mean any expensive venture or building project which was very expensive, with limited use. Whether sports venues built for a big event, or a "bridge to nowhere", here are 12 projects which blew past their already elephantine budgets.
In 2005, the largest shopping mall in the world opened in Dongguang at a cost of $1.3 billion, but for the first ten years of its life was almost empty. Artificial canals became green with algae. In 2011, the mall was at 1% occupancy. Eventually, after a pivot towards attracting lower to middle class tenants, the mall started to fill up since 2017 and now attracts families with its mix of cinemas, retail and F&B.
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