Like almost everything in the Middle East, malls don’t come in any size but huge in Dubai. To help you maximise your buck, we’ve created this guide
The Dubai Mall
This is a mall you can repeatedly lose yourself in, willingly. You might need a golf cart to get around, if you want to pack it in all at once. From best-known Middle-Eastern designers like Elie Saab, to the best of high-street from the US, UK and Europe, there’s plenty to choose from here. Shoe-lovers should head straight to Level, a shoe paradise spread over 96,000 sq ft. The Dubai Mall also has a plethora of restaurants, and a 22-screen movie hall!
The Village Mall
If you’re looking for quirky and non-mass produced items, head to The Village Mall. It’s laid out like a bazaar and for convenience sake, even has a spa to pamper yourself. Make sure you visit Chic Oz Design, an outlet that stocks Australian designers, and Luxcouture that has lines from Brian Reyes and Christopher Deane. If you have children, and have planned some extreme shopping, you can drop them off at Peekaboo, which has a range of activities for kids up to seven years old.
Mall of the Emirates
The Mall of the Emirates is more compact than The Dubai Mall. Yet, there are about 520 stores here, both deluxe and high-street, and there’s also Harvey Nichols and Debenhams to pull you in. Besides the stores and the delicious Italian meals at Emporio Armani Café, there’s the mall’s crowning glory– Ski Dubai, the city’s first indoor ski resort. It’s such a novelty that the in-mall hotel, the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates even has ski chalets that look out on to snowy slopes.
Wafi City Mall
This Egyptian themed mall has won awards for being the best shopping mall, having the best restaurant, best hotel, best spa and the best independent boutique! The Raffles hotel adjoins it, and the mall is spread out like a souk. The Souk Khan Mourjan in the basement has been styled in 14th- century theme and sells Middle Eastern artefacts. From October to May, the mall also has free open- air movie screenings every Sunday night.
Al Ghurair Centre
As one of the oldest mega malls in the city, Al Ghurair Centre commands a certain amount of respect. It helps that it also has 300 stores. Head here for a different side of Dubai, away from the big ticket brands. The first floor has some of the best textiles in the city, in addition to an excellent range of electronics and luggage stores.
Dubai’s souks are the stuff of legend. Despite the real estate bust, the souks have survived, retaining their maze-like character of tiny lanes and crammed shop windows. The larger stores in the gold souk are where you’ll find rings, necklaces, and brooches. The spice souk is right next to it, and you just need to let your nose lead you to the warm, familiar aromas of spices, incense and traditional medicinal products. Check out the textile section for their silks.
Khalid bin Al Waleed Street
You can participate in the mall’s ‘Win 10 times Your Shopping Amount Back’ raffle for every Rs. 2,500 you spend. When your store choices include Zara, Saks Fifth Avenue and Chanel, that’s an avenue you should definitely explore. The mall even has an amusement park in case you get bored of shopping. BurJuman also organises the Big Bus Dubai – a hop-on hop-off tour of the city on a double decker bus. Or take the Wonder Bus Tours around Dubai, which offer a perspective of this audacious oasis-city from the water.
Dubai Festival City
Dubai Festival City stretches for 3km along the Dubai creek. But you may not realise this as you pop in and out of its many stores. Take a breather from shopping and stroll along the promenade to admire the incredible display of yachts in the water. Six hundred shops, and more than 50 cafes and restaurants tempt you to stay indoors. Don’t forget to check out the Dubai Gold Marketplace, a modern souk for buying gold.
Jumeirah Beach Road
Mercato Mall channels a decidedly Mediterranean vibe and is laid out, as its moniker suggests, like an Italian market. Smaller, and therefore easier to navigate compared to the rest, it has fewer dining options, although it has some cute ‘street-style cafes’. Mercato’s appeal lies in its Venetian architecture: soft pastels to invoke a Mediterranean feel. Think of it as a boutique mall, compared to its other behemoth counterparts. But even this miniature mall boasts hundreds of stores, a miniature jewellery souk, a seven-screen cinema theatre and a children's entertainment zone.