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.