Dubai shopping

Where can you find the world’s best hotel, the world’s tallest building, and several artificial islands where the world has been recreated? Why, in Dubai, of course. And there’s more: If you’re in the United Arab Emirates, part of the travel experience is a bit of Dubai shopping. Or at least having a look at the outrageous shopping malls in this little emirate.

For a long time, business dealings in the Middle East have taken place in cafés. No different today, except the cafés have moved indoors; into the shopping malls. People have meetings, go through documents together, talk on mobile phones or work at computers.

Here’s just a selection:

Dubai shopping at the Mall of the Emirates

Dubai shopping

Mall of the Emirates offers valet parking and everyone arrives in hot red Ferraris or elegant Bentleys. Everyone! Mall of the Emirates boasts 476 international brands and 70 cafes and restaurants. However, what makes it stand out is Ski Dubai. It’s oddly absurd to watch men in traditional white dishdashas, down jackets and woollen hats pull children on sledges or fall on the slopes, all inside a shopping mall.

Travelling the world with Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta is an interesting mall with a historic twist. Ibn Battuta was a famous 14th century Arab traveller who visited more than 50 countries; no mean feat in the mid-1300s. The mall has six distinct sections with separate entrances – China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalusia. Each section has an impressive court and an info display, detailing the relevant Battuta journey.

I can’t decide which part I liked best: The beautiful domes of Persia, Egyptian hieroglyphs or a starry night in a Tunisian village. What do you think?

Entering Ancient Egypt at Wafi City

Wafi City is a small, elegant mall. From the outside, it looks more like a museum. Inside, apart from the usual assortment of exclusive boutiques, is an Arabian souk, the Khan Murjan, named after a legendary 14th century souk. Khan Murjan is full of arts and crafts and some of the sellers are slightly pushy. One in particular, a woman selling soaps and perfumes from Lebanon, was very persuasive. I had no intention of buying anything, yet I left her shop with all kinds of soaps and relaxing oils and face creams.

The Mediterranean recreated at Mercato

In a Tuscan-style building with cobble-stone streets and piazzas, the Renaissance Mercato Mall brought to mind Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. This is another fairly small shopping mall, but quite beautiful and with a good selection of shops.

We didn’t see Dubai Mall; apparently the world’s largest – with 1200 shops. The thought alone wears me out! Probably very child-friendly though – there’s an Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, as well as an Olympic size ice skating rink.

This post is part of DeliciousBaby’s PhotoFriday series. Have a look at other great photos here.



14 Responses to “Dubai shopping”

  1. jackie 30 April 2010 1612 #

    Oh my goodness. It looks crazy-amazing. I would love to be there!

    • Anne-Sophie 2 May 2010 1302 #

      @Jackie: Crazy-amazing is actually a good word 🙂

  2. wandermom 30 April 2010 1753 #

    Wow! Literally, that’s all I can say to that. Wow!

  3. Heather on her travels 1 May 2010 1524 #

    Who’d have thought that a shopping mall could have been elevated to an art form – I’m not sure whether all this consumerism is a good thing – does it mean that many people have nothing better to do than go shopping and more money than they really need? or is it just a fun place to hang out and meet friends in a society where socialising is more regulated

    • Anne-Sophie 2 May 2010 1310 #

      Heather, good points and questions. Until the financial crunch, at least – many had much more money than they knew what to do with.

      I definitely got the impression UAE malls were gathering places as well. We saw lots of people having meetings in mall cafes. Not quite as charming as at the outdoor cafes of the past (here, at least), but like in the west, I suppose it’s more comfortable to be out of the desert heat.

  4. Wanderluster 1 May 2010 1601 #

    That is just SO over the top!

    • Anne-Sophie 2 May 2010 1311 #

      @Wanderluster: It *is* rather surreal, isn’t it…

  5. Kim 3 May 2010 0926 #

    Starry night in a Tunisian village – definitely.

  6. Grace @ Sandier Pastures 3 May 2010 0934 #

    Hi! I saw your blog from Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday linkies. I live in Dubai and one of our favorite activities here is going to the malls! 🙂

    There are so many malls to choose from, each having an asset (unique entertainment) apart from the rest so we are always excited whenever a new mall comes up.

    Sorry to hear you weren’t able to visit the Dubai Mall. It’s worth a visit, especially at night when you can see the tallest building light up and the fountain show beneath. 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie 3 May 2010 1430 #

      @Grace: Yes, my daughters were sorry not to see Dubai Mall as well. I think we just have to go back 🙂

  7. Jen 3 May 2010 1456 #

    I would be too busy staring to get any of my shopping done!

  8. Suzy 6 May 2010 2045 #

    Those malls look ridiculous!

  9. Rachel 7 May 2010 0449 #

    Hi Sophie,

    I have never seen any malls that compare to these…

    I’d love for you to write for Pink Pangea (, a travel site specifically geared towards women travelers. Submit a photo of yourself in a country to which you’ve traveled and write a post like this one about your experiences, providing some tips for other women travelers to that location.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    [email protected]

  10. The Thrifty Designer 21 May 2010 0032 #

    I lived in Abu Dhabi in the 80’s. Your pictures bring back such great memories for me…of course back then Dubai wasn’t nearly as built up as it is now. We used to stay at Jebel Ali -we loved that place. Is it even around anymore?

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