Shop like a Sheikh

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Dubai’s annual winter shopping festival starts next month and CD Traveller has the low-down on where you can shop like a sheikh in the kingdom of bling


If shopping was an Olympic event, Dubai would virtually be guaranteed a gold medal; there’s a whole host of super sized shiny malls dedicated to the joys of consumerism. The Mall of the Emirates has long been the king of the castle, but in recent years Festival City has been giving MOE (as it’s fondly referred to) a run for its money as has The Dubai Mall – said to be the largest in the world. Of course there’s much more to Dubai’s shopping scene than these gargantuan complexes. From the buzzy City Centre (home to both big name and budget brands), to the elegant, Egyptian themed Wafi City Mall, upmarket Emirates Towers, quirky and kitsch Lamcy Plaza and cheesy Venetian themed Mercato Mall  – the options are endless.


While these glittering mega malls pull in the punters at any time of year, they’re particularly attractive during January owing to the annual extravaganza that is Dubai Shopping Festival. This shopping celebration, which this year runs until February 20, has done wonders to lure in tourists in what was traditionally a lean time. During DSF, shoppers can expect discounts galore in every outlet, plus a myriad of entertainment options including live music, dance performances and other fun filled activities. Presiding over all the action is the popular yellow mascot, Modesh – which means ‘amazing’ in Arabic. For more information visit

Best for boutiques:
The Village
Instead of the usual ‘chain gang’ offerings, you’ll find chi chi boutiques like Luxecouture, S*uce (girlie heaven) and the excellent, Ayesha Depala. There’s also a gem of a spa in SensAsia. The downside? Unless you have a thin frame and a fat wallet, keep walking.

Best for beating the crowds:
Dubai Festival City
This new’ish kid on the block is not only lighter and brighter than its rivals, but it’s also mercifully free of the human traffic that plagues MOE, and unlike the Burjuman parking here is plentiful – and free.


Best for surrealism:
Mall of the Emirates
: Where else in the world, save Dubai, can you shop and ski under one roof in the desert?! Yes, that’s right: when you’re saturated with shops such as Harvey Nichols, slalom down the slopes at Ski Dubai. All equipment is included in the price.

Best for children:
Ibn Battuta
: Ibn Battuta – inspired by the adventures of the intrepid traveller – is best described as a mall cum theme park. Staff wander around the six courts (Andalusian, Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Persian and Tunisian) clad in cartoon character style costumes. There’s also interactive displays designed to reveal the region’s history, and the UAE’s only IMAX cinema.

Best for the chain gang:
What: Deira City Centre
Once the jewel in Dubai’s shopping crown, Deira City Centre has had to work hard to fight off stiff competition from the new kids on the shopping block. It’s putting up a good fight, and having introduced a whole flood of new titles to its portfolio including Club Monaco, H&M, New Look, Bebe and Banana Republic, is still a shopping heavyweight. A word of warning; taxi queues here are legendary and will remind you of queuing to get into a nightclub in your teens.


Best for bargains:
Lamcy Plaza
Seemingly abandoned in a time warp, Lamcy certainly doesn’t keep up with other malls’ obsession with cutting-edge modernity: the interior is dated, there’s a tacky replica of Tower Bridge and an unrealistic-looking waterfall. But if you’re looking for bargains, this might just be the perfect mall for you. Stock up on cut-price clothes from Fashion Factory and handy knick-knacks at Japanese discount store, Daiso. Before you go, grab a cheap curry at Thai Express.

Best for designer labels:
What: BurJuman Centre
Much improved following an expensive extension, BurJuman is a subdued, chic mall with plenty of designer barns, including Burberry, Donna Karan, Christian Lacroix, Calvin Klein and Tiffany & Co. The main draw card however is Saks Fifth Avenue. In between a splurge, there are plenty of upmarket cafes to rest wear feet at.

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