The emirate is teeming with shopping malls and each mall reveals a different theme and experience. The sprawling expanse of the malls, the innovative architecture, the designer boutiques, top brands, vast product range from haute couture to the latest gadgets and gizmos and an endless choice of restaurants and cafes allow visitors the option of passing an entire day within the premises of a single shopping complex.
Existing alongside modern marvels such as the shopping malls, are the traditional markets, also known as the souks. With their historic structures still in place and restored to meet the demands of the present day, Dubai‘s different souks may vary in their offerings and character, but are all alive with the buzz of trade and the spirit of a strong and traditional past.
The Dubai shopping scene offers something for everyone. Apart from competitively priced electronic products, watches, cameras and other international items, popular traditional gifts include Arabic coffee pots; silver and brass swords and „khunjars” (Arabic curved daggers); prayer beads; soapstone figures; coasters and other items decorated with lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite and other semi-precious stones; marble goblets; silver antique jewellery from Oman and Yemen, as well as locally made items; brass and silver work; silver and wooden dhows; Persian carpets and cotton dhurries (oblong floor coverings) and a multitude of other ethnic items.
Dubai’s shopping potential begins when you arrive and extends right up to the journey home through its now globally acclaimed Dubai Duty Free shops at its airports. First opened in 1983, Dubai Duty Free has won a number of international awards and is recognised in the industry and by the travelling public alike as offering a superlative range of high quality products at unbeatable prices.
Shopping in Dubai revolves around its malls – large and small – and a definite mall culture exists here. Malls are places to meet, eat and mingle. Many of these airconditioned malls provide entertainment and people of all ages can spend hours in them. From the smaller community malls dotted around the city, to the ultra-modern mega malls that have changed the skyline, shopping opportunities abound and with most shops open until 22:00 every night, there’s enough time to browse. The popularity of the malls is evident by the crowds that they pull, particularly at the weekends.
Special events are held during Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises and Ramadan, with entertainment for children and some special offers in the shops. These are peak shopping times and an evening in the larger malls at this time is not for the faint-hearted! Most of the malls have plenty of parking – often stretched to the limits at the weekends; all have taxi ranks and many are handy for bus routes.
With so much choice out there, malls make sure they can offer something unique to shoppers to draw the crowds. In terms of architecture, Ibn Battuta is remarkable – six distinct architectural styles reflecting the sights of Egypt, China, India, Persia, Tunisia and Andalusia. Mall of the Emirates has got their unique selling point covered – a community theatre and a huge ski slope has made this one of the busier malls. Deira City Centre is the old kid on the block and yet is still consistently popular because of its excellent range of outlets, huge cinema multiplex and wide range of food outlets. Wafi City and BurJuman have cornered the market for exclusive boutiques and designer labels. Despite the choice of shopping centres on offer, more are opening every few months! The Dubai Mall – the worlds largest – recently opened. Dubai Mall’s record will soon have its crown stolen with the opening of Mall of Arabia as part of Dubailand, boasting over 1,000 retail outlets and 10,400 car park spaces!