Shopping malls in Dubai are as common as shawarma shops on the streets of Dubai. Ok, not quite. But that’s just to show how many there are. Dubai Mall is as famous all over as is the Burj Khalifa. People the world over may not be familiar with the UAE, but Dubai, yes. This little city has become a shopping haven, thanks to the numerous and ever-increasing number of malls.
How much can be crammed in one tiny city? Learn from Dubai. And not that it’s a reason to complain because hey, most of us love to shop. If an outlet in one mall goes out of stock, there’re always three other malls to turn to for that same outlet. From modest G+1 storied to sprawling LG-2 levelled malls, there’s no dearth of variety. Catering to people from all social and economic spheres, malls in Dubai offer an eclectic mix of fashion, electronics, entertainment and dining.
Here’s a quick look at some of the more popular malls around town.
Without a doubt, the most famous of the lot and the biggest. And not just any big. The ninth biggest in the world based on Gross Leasable Area (GLA)! Nestled in the heart of Downtown Dubai, Dubai Mall is a prime tourist attraction and for good reason too. This mall has it all. One of the largest fish tanks in the world- the Dubai Aquarium, the biggest bookstore in the region- Book World by Kinokuniya, the world’s biggest candy store- Candylicious, a gold souk, an indoor waterfall, the first-ever Olympic-sized ice rink in Dubai- Dubai Ice Rink, an indoor theme park- SEGA Republic, KidZania- a children’s edutainment concept, a medical centre and Reel Cinemas with 22 screens, making it the largest cinema in Dubai.
Candylicious- world’s biggest candy store
The Souk- traditional themed shopping area
These aside, the two greatest attractions of the mall are the mighty Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world and the Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest dancing fountain. Drawing in droves tourists and locals alike, the Dubai Fountain, located outside by the lake, is a picturesque spectacle during performance, while the imposing Burj Khalifa looms in the background. And of course, At the Top, Burj Khalifa. An experience not to be missed, the observatory deck on the 124th floor offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the dynamic city that is Dubai.
The Dubai Fountain in its dancing glory
Dubai Mall holds the record for being the world’s most-visited shopping and leisure destination. Satiating everyone’s fashion needs, it houses everything from Houte Couture to high-street brands. Dining is a whole different ball game. You are beyond spoilt for choice. Fine dining to fast-food chains dot the mall. Alteast one whole day is what you need to truly discover the offerings of Dubai Mall.
Having earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records is the Dubai Aquarium
Mall of the Emirates (MoE)
If you want to witness snow in the desert, you should head to Mall of the Emirates, popularly known as MOE among the local crowd. Housing Middle East’s first indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai features real snow year around and is home to 20 Snow Penguins. Skiing, snowboarding or simply playing in the snow, the world’s largest indoor snow park has much fun to offer. No guesses as to what the favourite hangout spot is when the temperature here crosses the 40-degree mark!
Ski Dubai- world’s largest indoor ski resort
Shop till you drop from an array of more then 560 international brands in fashion, footwear, homeware and electronics. Stock up your home and fridge with fresh produce, make the most of great deals and offers and enjoy value-for-money at Carrefour hypermarket. This particular branch at MOE is the largest in Dubai. When tired and need refuelling, take a break at one of the many cafes and restaurants. With over 40 eateries spreads across two food courts located on separate levels, in addition to restaurants, you will be left in a fix deciding where to eat.
Not just about shopping, all you arts and culture fans are in for a treat. Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (DUCTAC) at MOE is a non-profit creative centre that includes a 500+ capacity theatre, 200-seat studio, art galleries, dance studios and rehearsal rooms. It is host to a number of artistic classes such as pottery, photography, sculpture, etc., local, national and international show, productions and performances. It also houses a library and an Arts Materials Shop. For the movie buffs, there’s VOX Cinemas running the latest movies on 14 screens.
Ibn Battuta Mall
The only mall in the UAE (and possibly the world) themed around the travels of an individual, Ibn Battuta Mall pays tribute to the famous Arabic explorer Ibn Battuta who, six centuries ago at the age of 20, set out to journey the world. Divided into six courts, each court is themed and designed to represent the regions he visited- Andalusia (in Spain), Tunisia, Egypt, Persia (present Iran), India and China. It’s really something else, watching the ambience and architecture change as you walk through the mall.
Shopping and dining aside, it’s claim to fame, aside from the themed courts, was that for the longest time, it was the only place in the UAE with an IMAX theatre. The recently opened Meydan IMAX has taken away this title. Irrespective, the cinema experience at Ibn Battuta with its 21 screens including the IMAX theatre continues to remain as popular as ever.
Upon hearing the name, you might have guessed one of the two: it’s a mall shaped like a dragon or it’s a mall dedicated to Chinese goods. The correct answer: it’s both. A massive retail area stretching at 1.2km long (and growing. It’s currently undergoing expansion), Dragon Mart is the world’s largest Chinese trading hub outside of mainland China. Anything and everything you can imagine can be found here. Nope, it’s not like the usual malls in Dubai. It’s devoid of any brands, let alone international brands. For the brand-conscious among you, this won’t be your cup of tea.
The grand entrance to the mall
A smart-shopper’s paradise, it’s allure lies in relatively cheaper-priced goods when compared to malls, gargantuan variety in almost every category of goods and stocks that seem to never end! Although divided into sections specific to fashion, furniture, electronics, etc., be prepared to find mix-ups. A favourite with people designing their homes from scratch, this pink dragon engages in both retail and wholesale trade.
A few forewarnings for shoppers:
· Never ever ever wear heels when visiting Dragon Mart, we recommend sneakers.
· Always note down where you enter from or by what entrance you’ve parked your car. There’s a 97% chance you’ll forget it as your eyes and ears take in all those fabulous goods and even better prices.
· Plan your visit over two days, or three. One day just won’t be enough.
Dubai Festival City Mall
Also known as Dubai Festival Centre or DFC, this mall is located along the banks of the Dubai Creek that further adds to its overall appeal. Leading retail brands, numerous dining options with indoor and outdoor seating, Bowling City and 12-screen Grand Cinemas make it a popular leisure destination. The mall is constantly hosting entertainment activities for children and families and every now and then you can enjoy live performances by the waterfront promenade.
Winter in Dubai is a lovely time, and winter at DFC, even more so. Enjoy dining by the waterside as Dubai Festival Centre offers the largest and most diverse collection of waterfront dining venues in the Middle East. Canal Walk is the place to be at. Take a ride on the Abra or simply grab a cuppa or an ice-cream cone and chat away with friends in the open serenity of the surroundings. That’s not all. DFC also houses the largest Trader Vic’s in the UAE and the famous Hard Rock Café. Within the vicinity of the mall lie further shopping treasures in the form of IKEA, HyperPanda hypermarket, Plug-ins Electronix and the largest Ace Hardware outside North America.
The Canal Walk makes for a good winter hang-out spot
Deira City Centre (DCC)
This mall holds sentimental value for many Dubai residents. Before the Dubai Mall, MOE and Ibn Battuta, DCC was Dubai’s biggest and very first super-mall. Popular fashion brands, Carrefour supermarket, Vox Cinemas and Magic Planet continue to attract visitors. Over the years, it has undergone expansion to include more shops, dining options and a Fitness First Centre. True, the newer malls are bigger, fancier and have a lot more to offer. But there’s something charming about Deira City Centre, a magnetism that has kept this used-to-be-super-mall still alive and thriving.