The Dubai Mall with on-site hotel and Burj Kahlifa in background.
I’ve never been much of a shopper. Ok, I’ve never been a shopper, period. The mere thought of entering a mall would immediately render me the most tired human on the planet. And along about 23 minutes into the shopping excursion, I would break out in hives. Literally (and I hate that word) break out in hives.
However, living in Dubai was a whole different experience in shopping. Between the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates, my whole idea of shopping changed. My friends back in the States could not believe that I would spend 8, 9, 10 hours at the “mall”.
It helped that I made enough money there that I didn’t have to constantly check my budget before buying something. But beyond that, the malls were more like amusement parks. The Dubai Mall is connected to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It also boasts the water fountain show that is bigger and more brilliant than the one at the Bellagio in Vegas. You can book a room and stay overnight at the resident hotel. There is also an ice skating rink, aquarium and underwater zoo with the world’s largest viewing panel, and SEGA World with amusement-park rides and games. And during EID you can visit the mall any time as shops are open 24 hours a day; it’s an Emirate pajama party!
The Mall of the Emirates is slightly smaller, but still houses the amazing: a community theater, Magic Planet entertainment center, and my personal favorite—the indoor snow skiing pavilion! It is pretty crazy that in one day I went out to the cable park and water skied in the morning and went to the mall and snow skied in the afternoon!
All of these things were beyond my imagination. But there was one thing that really intrigued me: the social aspect of the mall. On any given Friday night, these places are packed. Sometimes, it would take 30+ minutes to find a parking spot. And they are not short of parking garages; they are just packed. A sea of white kunderas and black abayas saunter in and out of stores and congregate together. Women are decked out in their finest; you can see their dresses and designer jeans poking out from their abayas. And the shoes are to die for. I heard that is how the girls tell the boys they like how to recognize them amidst all the other abayas; the shoes!
Teenagers hang out laughing and carrying on and families stroll hand in hand. It is a beautiful thing to see the Arabic man and his little girl spending time together. The way he lifts her to look into her big, brown eyes as she tells him something and the way he really listens to her and freezes the moment between the two of them. It is rare to not see a father holding his little girl’s hand.
And it all makes sense; this is their social life. They don’t go to bars. They don’t go to clubs. They don’t hang out at concerts or shows. They don’t drink or smoke marijuana. They go the malls and hang out with their families in a good, wholesome, clean environment.
And I thought malls were just for shopping!
Mall of the Emirates