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 Dubai Shopping Malls

Dubai loves to shop. The city has just perfected the art of the mall which is the de facto air-conditioned town commons, the place to go with the family, hang out with friends and have some entertainment. Dubai Malls have ski slopes, ice rinks and aquariums. They look like ancient Persia or future movie sets. The range of stores – high street to designer, electronics to carpets are amazing but true bargains are as rare as tulips in Tonga, except during the Dubai shopping festival.


The explosion in themed mall architecture took off in 2002 with the opening of Mercato Mall and its Tuscany meets Venice architecture. Souq Madinat Jumeirah reinterprets the classic covered Arabian bazaars of old, with gracefully arching wooden ceilings above a maze of corridors designed to get you lost. Anchoring the complex at either end are two palatial, seaside hotels think Disney does Arabia. Nearly 1.5km long, Ibn Battuta Mall is comprised of six interconnected shopping centres, each one styled after a country visited by the eponymous explorer who travelled from Andalusia to China in 14th century.


Mall of the Emirates is best known for its indoor ski slope, Ski Dubai where fresh snow is generated overnight. The massive Dubai Festival City opened in 2007, with a red carpet –lined VIP entrance. The back of the mall is most impressive, a three storey high origami inspired marble sculpture, with water running down its faces, doubles as a staircase for shoppers.


Open since November 2008, Dubai Mall is the world’s largest retail mall; it packs an Olympic-size ice rink, a huge aquarium and underwater zoo, several indoor amusement parks and 1200 stores into massive frame. It’s smack-dab in downtown Dubai, at the foot of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower. Opposite, reached via a bridge spanning Downtown Dubai Lake is Souk al-Bahar, whimsical Ginger, a diminutive version of Souq Madinat Jumeirah.


Scouring the souqs (covered outdoor markets) remains the city’s quintessential shopping experience and the fastest way to get to the heart of the culture. Nothing compares with the street hawkers barking for customers and the call to prayer booming down narrow lanes. There is a souq for everything; fish, fruit and vegetables, Bedouin jewellery, Palestinian embroidery, curly-toed Aladdin slippers, oriental perfumes, frankincense and myrrh, cheap electronics to take home to friends.



















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