Shelby's Dubai Dairy

'Shop 'til you drop' only begins to tell the story of world's largest malls: Skiing anyone?

'Shop 'til you drop' only begins to tell tale of world's largest malls

News, Shelby, Dubai, February 2015
Dubai Emiratis shop the gilded trail of Dubai Mall, largest mall in the world where old world and new world comfortably mesh. Photo by Elizabeth Lavin
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
Dubai Mall in Downtown Dubai is part of the multi-billion dollar complex that includes Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world. Courtesy of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
A fountain in Dubai Mall a sculptural wonder with mid-stream "divers." Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
Impressive mobile sculptures decorate one wing of Dubai Mall. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
Dubai Mall featuers an old world design influence in this wing. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
Dubai Mall relfect an Ottoman influence in architecture. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, Feb. 2015
Directional signs in Dubai Mall tell all. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai, February 2015
Old world and new world mix comfortable in Dubai Mall. Photo by Elizabeth Lavin
News, Shelby, Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, skiing, Feb. 2015
This entry to the Mall of the Emirates resembles Paris' Museé d'Orsay. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Feb. 2015
The underground ski center is a bizarre desert anomaly. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai shopping, Feb. 2015
Emiratis suit up for their indoor skiing adventure at Mall of the Emirates. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Shelby, News, Dubai shopping, Feb. 2015
A winter wonderland, complete with penguins, awaits Mall of the Emirates visitors. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Feb. 2015
More than 5.5 acres in the Mall of the Emirates are devoted to ski slopes. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Dubai, February 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, January 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai Mall, Feb. 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai, February 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, skiing, Feb. 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Feb. 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai shopping, Feb. 2015
Shelby, News, Dubai shopping, Feb. 2015
News, Shelby, Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Feb. 2015

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Leave the stilettos at home. A shopping trip to either of this Emirate's mega malls means two things — credit card frenzy and, rather than shop 'til you drop, it's walk 'til you drop. The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are the ultimate in conspicuous consumption play pens and they are enormous.

Amid the myriad retail and culinary offerings, Mall of the Emirates, the senior of the two, boasts snow skiing and penguins while Dubai Mall with a vast aquarium and underwater zoo holds title as the largest mall in the world. One of my travel writing cohorts on this visit counted enough steps to equal no less than four miles trekking through the monster Dubai Mall.

 One of my travel writing cohorts on this visit counted enough steps to equal no less than four miles trekking through the monster Dubai Mall.

You can spend millions on diamonds from Dhamani in Dubai Mall, less on silver plated flutes and piccolos from Sadek Music Centre and even less on costume jewelry sold in mid-mall kiosks. Dubai Mall houses the largest collection of fashion brands in the world.

From eyewear to bridal, from exotic lingerie to sports attire, footwear, home furnishings, electronics, a florist, a day care center and even a dry cleaners — there is nothing left to be desired, except perhaps a golf cart to peruse the vast expanse of buying opportunities.

On my visit, I dropped into famed French retailer Galeries Lafayette to pick up Laura Mercier cosmetics, founded by a Houstonian. In another part of the mall, I purchased — for a song — a ravishing, beaded silk caftan from India. And I window shopped for hours.

Across Dubai at the Mall of the Emirates, which held first place as the world's largest mall until the opening of Dubai Mall, I checked out the skiing experience. You cannot imagine it until you see it. Some five and a half acres of ski terrain with chair lifts, ski instructors, snow boarding, a winter wonderland and a village of penguins — on the edge of the dessert. Mind-boggling, yes.

But sitting in the aprés ski bar overlooking the slopes, one's mind could be tricked. The millionaire Emiratis suiting up and soaring across the steep terrain, kids learning the snow plow and others schussing down the slopes was Aspen all over gain, well, sort of.

Dubai Mall by the numbers:

1,200 shops and counting

150 food outlets, ranging from food courts to fine dining establishments

$20 billion, the cost of the Downtown Burj Khalifa development that includes the mall 

440,000 square-foot fashion avenue

22 screens in the Reel Theater

33,000 sea creatures live in the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo 

Mall of the Emirates by the numbers:

460 retail shops and counting

90 places for food and drink ranging from food courts to fine dining

$800 million, cost of building the mall which opened in 2005 (until opening of Dubai Mall, it claimed to be the largest in the world)

14 screens in VOX Cinemas

22,500 square meters (or approximately 5.5 acres) of ski slopes

Every January, the Emirate celebrates the power of purchasing with the Dubai Shopping Festival, which includes major sales as well as musical entertainments, sports activities, fashion events and more. 

This is the last in a seven-day series. To start at the beginning of  Shelby's Dubai Diary, click here.  Shelby Hodge's trip to Dubai was hosted by Emirates Airline