Contributed by Smita Jog. Smita is well travelled in India and abroad. Her hobby is to read and write travel related articles. A few of her travelogues have been published in newspapers. She has written three books on her travel experiences.
The first thing that comes to mind when you plan a visit to Dubai is shopping and why not? Dubai has a number of interesting malls with exclusive wares with which to lure the ardent shopper. So after visiting places like Jabel Hafeet, Al Ain Zoo and Palm Jumeirah, it is to these malls that we made our way.
Madinat Jumeirah Mall
It is designed in characteristic Arabic-style architecture. The brown sandstone structure displays a ceiling with timber trusses and features Arabic latticework everywhere, particularly the balconies. Even the toilet door is of intricately carved wood and quite heavy too. The mall has long and winding narrow passageways with shops on either side.
Here you can buy some exclusive Arabic dresses, handicrafts, jewellery, artefacts, paintings, carvings, sculptures, furniture, miniature camels and palm trees. Some electronic goods are also available. The interesting part is that the shopping mall extends to a private sea-face. Climb down a few steps and you enter an enclosed beach. On the other side of the enclosure is the Jumeirah Beach. Souk Madinat Jumeirah is part of the larger Madinat Jumeirah complex having luxury five-star hotels, a conference centre, an indoor theatre, an amphitheatre, open plazas, waterside walkways, cafés, bars and restaurants.
Ibn Battuta Mall
It is the most interesting of the malls, themed as it is around the travels of the renowned 14th century Arabian explorer, Ibn Battuta. It has six different sections, or courts, representing China, India, Persia, Egypt, North Africa and Andalusia, each with its defining architecture.
A slight drizzle had started by the time we reached the mall. The outdoor eating section led us to the China Court, the hub of electronic devices and gadgets. The India Court usually displays the latest Indian fashions at its many stylish boutiques. The wide central aisle of the mall houses kiosks flaunting wares like chocolates, sweets, dry fruits and so on. It made us realise just how hungry we were and we purchased some dry figs here. They are quite unlike the ones we are accustomed to eating, being fleshier and sweeter.
The Persia Court, the jewel in Ibn Battuta Mall’s crown, is housed within an intricately designed dome painted a vibrant blue that immediately attracts your attention. Here you will find cosmetic brands and also Starbucks. Since we were short on time and the mall is extensive, we did not visit the other courts.
It is said: “The Dubai Mall is a place like no other. A new day, a new dawn. From the windswept sands a new legend rises; a mall of epic proportions that is named the Dubai Mall.”
The Dubai Mall is an integral component of the Burj and features a floor-to-ceiling aquarium boasting the largest acrylic panel in the world. Sharks move about carelessly within the viewing glass along with other species, such as a colony of small yellow fishes. They provide interesting seascapes, moving up, down and through the gaps and holes in weeds and rocks. The mall’s ceiling depicts a sky with innumerable glittering stars and for those who seek it, there is an ice rink offering adventure sports.
Dragon Mart is a 1.2-km-long dragon-shaped structure divided into several commercial and service areas, each section being demarcated by an alphabet. Under this roof is an exhaustive collection of Chinese wares.
At the entrance you will find a fountain that portrays a dragon encircling the globe. Little dragons look up to this central figure. Continuing with this theme, you enter the mall through the mouth of a dragon following the length along its tail. Section A has leather bags. Since we could not unanimously make up our minds on what to buy, we moved on. It was the same story at the jewellery section, so we decided to split and make individual choices; as such our purchases started mounting. Two handbags, a two-string pearl necklace, Winnie the Pooh stickers, a blue dressing gown, a red Chinese dress…there was much to please my daughter and me. My husband was not to be left behind though. He chose a camel-coloured jacket and, not surprisingly, a cute little Chinese cat that meowed its way into his heart. It wagged its tail, nodded its neck and purred…all at the press of a button. This was one cat we could take back home.
Artificial flowers, paintings, home appliances, dresses, decorative lights…we moved through the different sections up to alphabet I which is when we decided we had had enough. To retrace the long route back was compulsory punishment. For those who don’t want to walk back all the way, a four-seater is available for a fee. We decided to leg it, only our pace split us into two groups causing both to lose sight of the other and also of the way back. But then, what is shopping without the thrill of lost and found? We did unite at the entrance afterwards where we took group photos in front of the illuminated dragon fountain.
Mall of the Emirates
Prominent brands like Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and Jimmy Choo vie for your attention here and coffee lovers will love to stop by for a sip of Starbucks. But we headed straight to Ski Dubai, the most interesting part of the mall. It is covered with artificial snow throughout the year and features slopes of varying difficulty and also a chairlift.
Mall-hopping can be tiring; it left me with no energy and I wished to be home and in bed before drifting off to sleep and dreaming of all my purchases.