Right next to the Burj Khalifa, the supersized Dubai Mall is the absolute mother of all malls, with over 1200 shops spread across four floors and covering a total area of over a million square metres – making it easily the largest mall in the world measured by total area (although other malls contain more shopping space). Just about every retail chain in the city has an outlet here, with flagship names including Galeries Lafayette, Bloomingdale’s, an offshoot of London’s famous Hamleys toy store and a superb branch of the Japanese bookseller Kinokuniya. There are also lashings of upmarket designer stores, mainly concentrated along the section of the mall called Fashion Avenue – a positive encyclopedia of labels, complete with its own catwalk and Armani café – as well as a self-contained Souk, with attractive contemporary Arabian design and a further 220 shops. Look out too for the eye-catching The Waterfall, complete with life-size statues of fibreglass divers, which cascades from the top of the mall down to the bottom, four storeys below.
Other amenities include some 120 cafés and restaurants, divided between various interior food courts and the bustling waterside terrace at the back of the mall overlooking the Dubai Fountain. There are also a couple of five-star hotels, a 22-screen multiplex, the state-of-the-art SEGA Republic theme park, the KidZania “edu-tainment” centre, an Olympic-size ice rink and the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.Read More
Assuming you come in the mall’s main entrance off Financial Centre Road, one of the first things you’ll see is the spectacular viewing panel of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo: a huge, transparent floor-to-ceiling aquarium filled to the brim with fish large and small, including sand-tiger sharks, stingrays, colourful shoals of tropical fish and some large and spectacularly ugly grouper. The viewing window holds the record for the world’s largest acrylic panel: at around 8m high and over 30m wide, with 33,000 fish, 70 species and 10 million litres of water, it’s effectively the largest fish tank
on the planet, although the similarly huge aquarium at The Lost Chambers runs it close.
The Underwater Zoo upstairs is relatively unexciting compared to the enormous tank, and more likely to appeal to children than to adults. Displays are arranged according to different marine habitats like freshwater, “rocky shore” and rainforest, with representative fauna from each, ranging from tiny cichlids, poison-dart frogs and soapfish through to otters, penguins and seals. The entrance ticket also allows you to walk through the underwater tunnel which runs through the middle of the tank, while for an extra 30dh you can take a glass-bottom boat ride across the top. Qualified divers can even go diving in it (by prior arrangement only) – although you won’t see anything you can’t already see from the mall, and for free.
Dubai Mall shoppers’ survival guide
Dubai Mall shoppers’ survival guide
Not surprisingly given its size, even a casual shopping visit to the Dubai Mall can be an exhausting experience – expect to walk several miles at minimum, even if you’re just looking for the nearest toilet. Maps of the mall are available from various information desks – useful to plan your visit and save endless backtracking.
Despite its size, the mall also suffers from massive crowds, especially at weekends and on holidays, when it’s best avoided. If you want a break from the masses, the coffee shops on the top (2nd) floor such as Caribou Coffee are often significantly quieter than those downstairs, and there’s also a pleasant little café in Kinokuniya offering bird’s-eye views of the Dubai Fountain below and often surprisingly peaceful when other places are rammed.