If you’ve ever been to the Philippines then you might be familiar with the mall culture we have over here. Sometimes my family has foreign guests who are pretty shocked at the sheer number of people milling about inside the malls even on a weekday. Given that Dubai is touted as a shopping haven it made sense that I came across a lot of Filipino shoppers. It doesn’t really matter where we go, we always make it a point to visit the malls it seems. Here in Dubai however, the malls offer enjoyment beyond simply the pleasure of shopping.
I hear the sales in Dubai are really intense (luxury brands included), but it wasn’t sale season when we arrived so I found the prices in the malls fairly similar to the Philippines for brands that are present in both countries. There was very little shopping done while we were here. (Well, except for the Dubai Outlet Mall where I managed to score a couple of things, but more on that later!)
What really strikes me about the malls of Dubai is how they cleverly pick attractions that are unique to them just to make your visit a bit more worthwhile– you know, how The Dubai Mall has the world’s largest acrylic aquarium, or how the Mall of the Emirates has Ski Dubai. Heck, even the Dubai Outlet Mall has a special store that is literally like a museum housing comic book-related paraphernalia.
I’ll be talking about each of the malls in turn on this post, and honestly I think there are things to like in each of them!
MALL OF THE EMIRATES
So my favourite attraction gets to go first? Okay.
For the record, the Mall of the Emirates was the only mall I got to walk around a little bit, so I have a couple of pictures of the mall itself, and it is gorgeous inside. I think it is my favourite in terms of interior design. I love the glass ceiling that lets in such ample sunlight. It was Christmastime when we visited so the decorations matched the season to a T.
We got to have a little late lunch at the food court as well. I ate shawarma. 🙂
The thing I hated the most about this tour was how much we were pushed around and hurried from one place to another, and as usual, when we arrived here we were allotted a short time only, majority of which we were recommended to spend in Ski Dubai. And for once I had to agree with this plan!
I was sooo excited for Ski Dubai. Having never experienced snow before I really wanted to know what it was like. I didn’t mind that this is machine-generated snow. My brothers and I all have never experienced snow so we all had so much fun frolicking around. You can see the Ski Dubai portion in my travel video at the 3:05 mark.
Before you get in you have to rent the Ski Dubai jacket and pants, as well as the snow boots and socks. You can rent a locker on a cash deposit basis to keep your things safe while you enjoy the winter park. The uniforms are included in the ticket but the gloves you have to pay for. I decided not to wear any gloves– to test myself? Who knows what was going on in my head then!—and by the 20th minute inside my hands started feeling numb. By this time I was also starting to get nervous about how the –4 degree temperature might affect my phone and camera. Nothing happened to the them thankfully!
So after putting everything on, staff will check you at the gates and scan your ticket before you can enter. I was pretty giddy by this time so my excitement to get in pretty much explains the lack of pictures of the ski clothing-renting procedure. You first enter into a snow cavern with a dragon ice sculpture and immediately that characteristic breathing fog I so love seeing in cold weather starts to appear before my eyes.
The inside was FREAKING MASSIVE. Looking from the outside it’s a bit hard to tell, but I kid you not when I say I felt utter amazement at how they managed to fit all this inside a mall. I loved how the glass walls overlooked the café because I know that some people actually are afraid of really cold weather and would prefer to watch their family members from outside.
It was only fitting that they got the rights to feature Frozen. Hello to my favourite snowman!
There are so many kids inside! Playing with snowballs, climbing towers, and riding sleds, mostly in the 3000-square meter play area. There are also slides for the kids who prefer more of a thrill– going down a slope riding one of those rubber donut-like rounds.
The adults also have a bigger version of these rides, as well as those giant running balls like the ones hamsters use. (I’m sorry I am so bad at the names of these things!) I think I need to mention also that the rides inside require a different payment scheme so make sure you bring your dirhams with you!
For the teenagers up to the adults, I think most of them prefer going over to the slope side to skate or ski or even snowboard. Obviously the highlight of Ski Dubai is their skiing slope plus the chairlift that will bring you up that slope. They really try to make the experience as authentic as they can. Since I am practically clueless about snow and snow-related activities, I’ll just mention some details about the ski slope: The mountain is 85 meters high and has 5 slopes of varying steepness for every level of skier.
So the question in everyone’s minds right now. Probably. Did I try to ski?
Well I wanted to, but by then we were being called outside because according to our schedule we were supposed to move on to the next place. My friends, honestly, when you come to Dubai, don’t book with a travel agency so you can enjoy everything at your own leisure. There’s just so much to enjoy! Not to worry though, I have no intention of not being able to try skiing at least once in my life, and I’m sure you’ll be reading about it here when I do! 😉
DUBAI OUTLET MALL
I’ll keep this one brief as I don’t have many pictures of this place. (I wasn’t planning on including this you see, but plans change!) This was the only mall I went into with a shopping mission (to buy knee-length boots!) because most of the items were sold at factory prices, which sits well with someone like myself—frugal some times, but more often really just trying to match the perceived quality of an item with what I think is a fair price. Let’s face it, most brands have these ridiculous price-tags!
The brands in the Dubai Outlet Mall range from casual/street brands like Converse or Puma, sports brands like Adidas and Nike, to higher-end brands like Armani. I guess you can say there’s a little something for everyone, even for the bored boyfriend who probably would prefer to find some form of distraction while their girlfriends engage in endless shopping. A place like Comicave maybe?
Comicave is the world’s largest comic book and pop culture superstore. Guess you can also call it a museum of sorts because of the sheer number of collectibles and superhero-esque displays in here.
It’s every comic book geek’s haven!!! Even for someone like me who just enjoys all the superhero movies like Iron Man, The Avengers, even Superman and Batman, there are plenty of familiar things in here. I’m more of a Marvel girl so I swooned at those displays more. I mean, check out that collection of Iron Man suits, like a set straight from Tony Stark’s house! Just FYI, I love Tony Stark thanks to my love for Robert Downey, Jr.
Now if you’re wondering whether I succeeded in my shopping mission, it was pure luck on my part that I scored a gorgeous pair of Cole Haan boots at something around 75%-80% off. I’ve never cared about being in the latest fashion so even if the boots are from an old collection, I didn’t mind one bit as long as it’s comfortable and functional. Maybe shopping-addicts would understand when I say it felt like fate, because these boots were the last pair and they were in my big-foot size! (Seriously I have big feet because I am a tall person so the struggle when it comes to buying nice shoes is REAL.)
THE DUBAI MALL
I literally only got to have a brief sweep of The Dubai Mall before we were ushered off to see the Dubai Aquarium, so I didn’t get a good sense of the place apart from the spots we went to.
My brothers were like: WHAT? ANOTHER AQUARIUM! Yeah it seems we got to aquariums in every country we visit haha! It’s kind of hard to be impressed by this particular one when you’ve been to so many, but since I am a fan of marine life and like watching fish swim I didn’t mind as much. This aquarium though is more like a giant box on the outside, but then you walk into the shark tunnel and I think that’s where everything actually looks more immersive. Overhead aquariums always have that effect.
Attached to the Aquarium is the Underwater Zoo where you can see some of the fish species found in the Arabian Gulf, but I happened to be more curious about the animals found on the mezzanine, called the UAE’s Night Creatures. It contains a number of animal species that naturally thrive in a desert environment, like certain birds or bats, lizards and geckos. (Not sure where the penguins figure in the desert though.)
But the pride and glory of this zoo are actually its King and Queen Crocs. I am, for the record, fairly scared of crocodiles. And knowing that the King Croc is as big as like 15 men or something like that (not to mention has about 60 razor-sharp teeth) certainly doesn’t help.
My imagination is a wild animal so I get chills just thinking about how massive the crocodile that could’ve owned this skeletal system must’ve been.
Adjacent to the Dubai Mall, you can take the escalators up to get to the ticketing offices of the Burj Khalifa, aka tallest tower in the world as of this writing. It was a bit hard to stop at the streets to get a shot of the building from the outside, so let’s just use my snow globe for illustration purposes. 😛
Be warned: THE LINE HERE IS CRAZY. I am generally very positively inclined to viewing cityscapes from high up, but I think the amount of time I had to wait just to get to the observation deck took away quite a LOT of my excitement. After going through security, the line to get into the main tower itself and then to the escalators on the way to the elevators probably took an hour more or less. That’s a long time to be standing in line in my opinion, but I have to make myself understand that they’re probably doing some sort of crowd-control up at the observation deck. Good news is they have wi-fi in the whole building, so that’s something…
The Burj Khalifa boasts super fast elevators that travels 10 meters/second up this 160-storey building. Once up on the observation floor you can walk around at your own leisure. Apparently the Burj Khalifa has the largest outdoor viewing deck, but it was nighttime when we went there so I couldn’t actually tell exactly how big it was. The lighting was very low which I’m pretty sure was intentional so that the focus will be on the bright blinking lights of the city.
It’s a stunning city whether in the morning or at night.
This is the view that made me forget that terrible waiting game I had to play earlier:
I had to add this night-shot to my collection of cityscapes from around the world, no question!
Stay tuned for the rest of my entires. Up next it will be all about Atlantis The Palm! Here’s my travel video that pretty much sums up all the highlights of my Dubai trip. Check it out to know what to expect in my Dubai Travel Blog series!
Other posts in this series:
- Part 1: Exploring the city + Souks of Dubai
- Part 2: A bit of history + views around Jumeirah
- Part 4: A night and half a day at Atlantis The Palm
- Part 5: The awesomest Yellow Boat Experience
- Part 6: Dancing in the desert of Dubai
- Part 7: Crossing over to Abu Dhabi
- Part 8: The grandest mosque I ever did see