I knew there would be a few malls in Dubai, but I wasn’t prepared for the scale or grandeur of the buildings; they are completely over the top for entertainment value and absolutely huge. Shopping seems to be the national pastime here. There are malls everywhere, hundreds of them, and most are cities in themselves as they are so vast. They have every conceivable thing you could possibly want or imagine so it’s impossible not to spend money. But they’re not only full of shops, cafés and restaurants; they are complete entertainment centres, with cinemas, ski slopes and ice skating rinks with the odd aquarium and dancing fountain thrown in, just to keep you there all day!
Even for non-shopaholics like me, the malls are the only place to go to get out of the searing heat. In fact, the malls were made for indoor living as it’s impossible to walk just a few yards down a street in Dubai, it’s so excrutiatingly hot….well it is a desert….! Most of the malls are attached to moving walkways, just like airport walkways, which are attached to the metro system, so you literally do not have to go outdoors or leave the comfort of the air-conditioning.
The moving walkways needed to cover the vast areas between the metros and malls
Here’s a few of the biggest and best malls that I came across while I was there……
1. The Dubai Mall
The biggest daddy of them all… the Dubai Mall is the biggest mall in the world. It includes a giant aquarium, an ice-skating rink, and sits next to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.
The Dubai Mall sitting next to the Burj Khalifa with the fountain lake at the front
I was wandering around here just before my trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa and saw a fabulous waterfall with divers sculpture….
The waterfall and divers sculpture inside the Dubai Mall
And here’s the ice skating rink……
The Ice Skating Rink inside the Dubai Mall
Nearest Metro Station – Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa (Red Line)
2. The Mall of the Emirates
I got to know every corner of this mall as my apartment was only two minutes away and I had to cut through here every day to get to the metro. This used to be the biggest mall until the Dubai Mall was constructed but it seems just as big to me. This mall features a vast indoor ski slope (the world’s biggest…naturally as we’re in Dubai, everything is the world’s biggest!). It’s really strange to see a fully functioning ski slope with real snow in the middle of a mall. There was even a couple of flug runways where you can have a downhill race.
The HUGE ski slope inside the Mall of the Emirates
Nearest Metro Station – Mall of the Emirates (Red Line)
3. The Wafi Mall
This mall is located near Dubai Creek’s west bank and has an Egyptian theme, with the new pyramid-shaped Raffles Hotel a the centrepiece of the complex.
The entrance to the Wafi Mall with its Egyptian theme
This is a really beautiful mall, and inside, there’s a huge pyramid glass ceiling with multi-coloured stained glass depicting different stories. This mall seems to be more for elite shoppers and there didn’t seem to be a lot of expats shopping here, mainly Dubai natives and tourists. There’s also the Encounter Zone which is an entertainment centre with interactive exhibits, a 3-D theatre and games for children, so there’s lots to do if you don’t want to shop.
The Atrium inside the Wafi Mall
Nearest Metro Station – Oud Metha (Green Line)
4. The Ibn Battuta Mall
I really wanted to see this mall as it’s based around the travels of the 14th-century Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta. It’s the world’s largest themed mall and is comprised of six courts, China, Andalusia, India, Tunisia, Persia and Egypt, each reflecting the culture and architecture of that country.
The Chinese Section with life-size Chinese Junk Boat
Inside, apart from the hundreds of shops, there’s a 21-screen cinema, IMAX theater, numerous restaurants from small independent cafes to large international chains, and a huge supermarket. It really is a sight to behold, the mall is worth a visit just to see massive display pieces in each court, such as a life-size replica of a Chinese junk, an antique elephant clock, and a host of other fascinating items. The mall also runs English and Arabic tours highlighting the various historical and architectural aspects of the mall from Thursday to Saturday which last about 45 minutes.
The Persian Section with its beautiful mosaics
Nearest Metro Station – Jebel Ali (Red Line)
5. The Madinat Mall, Jumeirah
The Souk Madinat is a modern mall but it’s been built with the feel of a traditional souk. There are little winding streets that you can wander round, with shops selling items from barrows and stalls that spill out onto the street, just like in an original souk. There are around 75 shops and galleries, selling all manner of goods like Persian carpets and Kashmiri shawls, to designer watches and souvenirs.
Inside the Madinat Souk
It’s situated near the seven star Burj Al Arab on Jumeira Beach and sits on a very pretty man-made waterfront edged with palm trees and with boats that you can ride on.
The Waterfront at the Souk Madinat
No Metro Station – you can only get here by cab or bus. To get here you can take the number 8 bus from Ibn Battuta Mall, Gold Souq bus station, or Al Ghubiba Bus Station. The Jumeirah Madinat Souq is next to the Wild Wadi Water Park.
These are just some of the vast number of malls situated all around Dubai, all with different themes and plenty to amuse the most discerning of shoppers!