Dubai is not exactly known as ‘Backpacker Central’, but a trip to the emirate would not be complete for any visitor unless they at least window-shopped at the luxurious Dubai Mall!
In the shadow of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall attracts rich Emiratis and tourists alike. It is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area, and contains over 1,200 retail outlets, many of which are uber-luxurious. The Dubai Mall is interestingly a very popular tourist destinations in its own right, with more people flocking here every year than to the likes of Niagara Falls or Times Square in New York. One of the most attractive areas of the Dubai Mall area are the fountains which are part of a musical show at various intervals throughout the day. Other attractions, aside from the shops, are cinemas, KidZania, SEGA Republic, the Dubai Aquarium, and an ice rink.
The interior of the Mall is full of luxury outlets, selling jewellery and even cars, whilst I noticed electronics shops are also very popular here. Many middle-class Indians come to Dubai to buy the latest designer electronics (which are not readily available in India) and then take them back to their homes, so I found it interesting that the Dubai Mall obviously caters for this trend. There is also a Gold Souk, where you can buy some very expensive real gold (if you can afford it, of course) and a Fashion Avenue, which caters to all the trendy and luxurious clothing brands of the world.
Located in the Dubai Mall is the Dubai Aquarium. I did not go in the aquarium, as I thought it was too expensive, and had read reviews saying that the highlight of the aquarium – the world’s largest acrylic panel – can actually be viewed from the Mall itself without needing to pay for admission. Over 33,000 marine animals are situated in the Dubai Aquarium, and it is hard to believe that such an attraction exists WITHIN a mall – but that’s just how big the Dubai Mall is!
One of my favourite parts of the Dubai Mall is the cascading waterfall pictured above, with many statues of people diving down the falls. There is a café called Café Bateel located near the falls on the ground floor, which is a great place to have a relaxing drink! It sounds strange, but I spent a long time just standing there staring at the falls; it is a great place to gather your thoughts. For something a little more “western”, find the McDonald’s in the food court – but you won’t find any Big Macs here. In Dubai, they have the McArabia flatbread!
For additional reading on the Dubai Mall, and for some ideas about what to do with families whilst there, check out this blog from Travel with Bender. Alternatively, for a more comprehensive look the Dubai Mall with incredible photos, check out this blog from Jonah Kessel.