About halfway down Jumeirah Road, the eye-popping Mercato mall is well worth a visit even if you’ve no intention of actually buying anything. Looking like a kind of miniature medieval Italian city rebuilt by the Disney Corporation, the mall comprises a series of brightly coloured quasi-Venetian-cum-Tuscan palazzi arranged around a huge central atrium overlooked by panoramic balconies, while side passages lead to miniature piazzas on either side – a memorable example of the sort of brazen kitsch that Dubai does so well. Not surprisingly, it’s all proved immensely popular, and the fake-Florentine thoroughfares are thronged most hours of the day and night by a very eclectic crowd, with Jumeirah Janes ducking in and out of the mall’s designer boutiques and crowds of white-robed Emirati men lounging over coffee in the ground-floor Starbucks while their veiled wives and Filipina maids take the kids upstairs for burgers and fries at McDonald’s – a picture-perfect example of the multicultural madness of modern Dubai.

Just under a kilometre further down Jumeirah Road, the Agora Mall was just a hole in the ground at the time of writing but promises to rival Mercato in the commercial kitsch stakes when finished, housed in a kind of glass-roofed Roman temple, with bits of faux-Tuscan naff plastered down the sides.

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