SHOP AND PLAY IN DUBAI

Re­tail pos­i­tively glit­ters in this glitzy emi­rate, plus there’s a wealth of other ex­pe­ri­ences to dis­cover too

Business Traveler (USA) - - DESTINATION - WORDS NEHA GUP TA KAPOOR

In 2016, real es­tate con­sul­tancy firm CBRE pub­lished find­ings from its sur­vey that ranks Dubai sec­ond af­ter Lon­don as “the most im­por­tant shop­ping des­ti­na­tion in the world,” a po­si­tion the emi­rate has held for six con­sec­u­tive years. In its 2016 edi­tion of How Global is the Busi­ness of Re­tail? CBRE goes on to say that of all the re­tail brands in Dubai, in­ter­na­tional brands make up about 57 per­cent.

Dubai’s re­tail sec­tor can at­tribute its growth to fash­ion and beauty en­thu­si­asts who see much value in such prod­ucts. In ad­di­tion tourists of­ten find it more eco­nom­i­cal to shop dur­ing their vis­its here be­cause of the lack of con­sump­tion taxes. This benefits re­tail­ers too. But much of the al­lure of Dubai for re­tail brands is its af­ford­able real es­tate, mall lo­ca­tions and its strate­gic po­si­tion – be­tween East and West – on the world map.

Here are four places where you can en­joy a good dose of re­tail ther­apy, cou­pled with some recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties.

CITY CEN­TRE MIRDIF

This is the first shop­ping mall in the re­gion to ac­quire a LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. City Cen­tre Mirdif uses less wa­ter and en­ergy, and has lower greenhouse gas emis­sions com­pared to the other malls in Dubai. The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is note­wor­thy for a fa­cil­ity of this size that houses over 430 stores, in ad­di­tion to leisure and en­ter­tain­ment at­trac­tions that in­clude a spa, groom­ing sa­lons, gym and F&B out­lets.

Fash­ion brands range from mass mar­ket to lux­ury. To name a few, there’s H&M, Zara, Sketch­ers, Ar­mani Ex­change, Ba­nana Repub­lic, Hack­ett, Mont Blanc and Ted Baker. City Cen­tre Mirdif also of­fers home ap­pli­ances, elec­tron­ics and fur­ni­ture.

EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

On the first floor, Magic Planet of­fers fam­ily-friendly rides and games. One of the more pop­u­lar at­trac­tions here is Orbi Dubai, which is a multi-sen­sory cus­tom-built theatre with a 115-foot wide screen, au­dio-vis­ual tech­nol­ogy and in­ter­ac­tive walk-through touch-points where vis­i­tors can “ex­plore the mys­ter­ies of na­ture.” Open Sun­day-Wed­nes­day 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Thurs­day-Satur­day un­til mid­night; ticket prices start from AED 100/$27; or­bidubai.com. There is also iFly, an in­door sky­div­ing space; Sky Trail, a 26-foot climb­ing wall; Yalla! a bowl­ing al­ley; and a ten-screen cin­ema com­plex at the mall.

SER­VICES

Those un­fa­mil­iar with Dubai will find the mall’s free shut­tle bus ser­vice help­ful. It con­nects to se­lect ho­tels in the vicin­ity. Free WiFi is avail­able to all vis­i­tors, as are copy and fax fa­cil­i­ties. You may even plan a visit to this mall a few hours be­fore your flight to stow your suit­cases for free in the lug­gage room.

City Cen­tre Mirdif is lo­cated in the res­i­den­tial area of Mirdif on Sheikh Mo­hammed Bin Zayed Road, and is open Sun­day-Wed­nes­day 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Thurs­day-Satur­day un­til mid­night; city­cen­trem­irdif.com.

MALL OF THE EMI­RATES

This multi-level shop­ping cen­ter fea­tures around 630 out­lets un­der fash­ion, lifestyle, sports, elec­tron­ics and home furnishing, as well as depart­ment stores and more than 90 F&B op­tions. In its Fash­ion Dome and Lux­ury Wing, there are over 80 in­ter­na­tional de­signer brands in­clud­ing Alexan­der McQueen, Aude­mars Piguet, Bu­gatti, Bvl­gari, Canali, Chopard, Fendi, Givenchy, Louis Vuit­ton and Vertu.

EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

Art en­thu­si­asts will be drawn to DUC­TAC (Dubai Com­mu­nity Theatre and Art Cen­tre), a hub for Dubai’s cre­ative com­mu­nity. Per­for­mances, ex­hi­bi­tions and work­shops take place ev­ery evening at the var­i­ous venues that in­clude a 543-seat theatre, a black box stu­dio theatre, The Gallery of Light, dance and re­hearsal studios, and 18 art studios and class­rooms.

Mall of the Emi­rates too has a Magic Planet with its rides and games, which in­clude a rac­ing sim­u­la­tor, the two-per­son RoboCoaster and a 4D theatre ex­pe­ri­ence. There is also a dome with ar­ti­fi­cial snow in­side the mall where you can en­joy snow rides, a ski school and a pen­guin en­counter where you can play with the birds for a few min­utes. VOX Cin­e­mas here has 14 screens.

SER­VICES

Mall of the Emi­rates has a lug­gage storing fa­cil­ity lo­cated near the metro link. Copy­ing fa­cil­i­ties are avail­able as well. A free shut­tle bus ser­vice con­nects to ho­tels along Sheikh Zayed Road and Jumeirah Beach. WiFi is free to all vis­i­tors. Mall of the Emi­rates is open Sun­day-Wed­nes­day 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Thurs­day-Satur­day un­til mid­night; malloftheemi­rates.com.

THE DUBAI MALL

Lo­cated in Down­town Dubai, the mall de­scribes it­self as “the cen­ter of now.” It has over 1,200 re­tail out­lets in­clud­ing two depart­ment stores – Ga­leries Lafayette and Bloom­ing­dale’s – lux­ury and main­stream brands from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional la­bels, jew­elry and ac­ces­sory stores, hand­i­craft, cos­met­ics, beauty prod­ucts, tra­di­tional Arab cloth­ing, and over 200 F&B out­lets.

EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

When it opened, The Dubai Mall made waves with its aquar­ium that is home to nearly 1,000 aquatic crea­tures. Best views of the show­case are through a 270-de­gree walk­through tun­nel. This was in­tended to be part of the kids’ en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties, but adults can hardly re­sist.

The 22-screen Reel Cin­e­mas Me­gaplex has a to­tal of 2,800 seats, and the ice rink here meets Olympic stan­dards. In the evenings, one can en­joy an im­pres­sive sound and light show at Prom­e­nade, the out­door part of the mall, with 3D dis­plays pro­jected on the man-made lake.

For a 360-de­gree panoramic view of the emi­rate, the mall of­fers tick­ets to lev­els 148 and 125 of Burj Khal­ifa, di­rectly ac­ces­si­ble through the mall’s lower ground floor. Each visit lasts 30 min­utes. Best to buy tick­ets in ad­vance to avoid long lines. Be­sides, only a lim­ited num­ber of “im­me­di­ate en­try” tick­ets are avail­able at the mall. (Open 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM and 7:30 PM un­til clos­ing time; ticket prices start from AED 125/$35; tick­ets.atthetop.ae.)

On the ground floor of the mall, there is a flight sim­u­la­tor, the Emi­rates A380 Ex­pe­ri­ence, which gives would-be pi­lots a feel of what it’s like to fly the world’s largest com­mer­cial air­craft. (Open Sun­day-Wed­nes­day 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Thurs­day-Satur­day un­til mid­night; ticket prices start from AED 325/$88; the­dubaimall.com/en)

SER­VICES

If you can’t squeeze in a visit to the malls, a few hours at Dubai Duty Free could be worth your while

WiFi is free to all vis­i­tors. The Dubai Mall also has porter ser­vice, per­sonal shop­pers, copy­ing, print­ing and ship­ping fa­cil­i­ties. The Dubai Mall is open daily from 10:00 AM – mid­night; the­dubaimall.com.

DUBAI DUTY FREE

If you can’t squeeze in a visit to one or more of the malls when in Dubai, sched­ul­ing a few hours at Dubai Duty Free (DDF) could be worth your while. There is a to­tal of 380,000 square feet of re­tail space at Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port, which in­cludes brands such as Ap­ple, Bose, Chivas Re­gal, Chopard, Gucci, La Prarie, Marc Ja­cobs, Pana­sonic, Sam­sung and Tumi. On its web­site, DDF boasts that it is the “big­gest travel re­tail op­er­a­tor in the world with a sales turnover of $1.85 bil­lion in 2016.”

In ad­di­tion us­ing DDF’s on­line por­tal, fliers can pre-or­der items from 30 days to 48 hours be­fore de­par­ture, ar­rival or in tran­sit at Dubai Air­port. These can be picked up at the air­ports’ On­line Col­lec­tion Point or Web­shop. When shop­ping on­line, pas­sen­gers must en­ter their flight de­tails when check­ing out. Items may be picked up at least three hours be­fore sched­uled de­par­ture or im­me­di­ately af­ter ar­rival.

There is an op­tion to pay at the pickup point, but that means you have to wait longer for your se­lec­tions to be col­lected and handed to you. If you have paid by card, the items are al­ready wait­ing for you at the Web­shop.

Other ser­vices in­clude a shut­tle ser­vice for tran­sit pas­sen­gers in Ter­mi­nal 3 “from the baggage screen­ing sec­tion to any one of the two DDF shops in the arrivals.” Tran­sit pas­sen­gers in Ter­mi­nals 1 and 3 can make pur­chases in arrivals and pick them up in de­par­tures.

DDF has part­nered with Emi­rates Sky­wards to al­low the pro­gram’s loy­alty mem­bers to re­deem Sky­ward miles to shop. A min­i­mum of 4,500 Miles (equiv­a­lent to AED 75/$20) is needed to start shop­ping with miles. Fur­ther, each ad­di­tional dirham spent at DDF is equiv­a­lent to 60 Sky­wards Miles. Mem­bers have the op­tion to pay for pur­chases us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of miles and cash or credit card. How­ever, not all DDF out­lets ac­cept miles — on­line.dubaidu­tyfree.com has a list of which ones are ex­cluded from the part­ner­ship.

Of course, bar­gain­ing re­mains an an­cient art in these parts, even in the fu­tur­is­tic air ter­mi­nal. Or you can spend a cou­ple of dirham to en­ter the on­go­ing raf­fle to win a high­end Mercedes or BMW. It changes each month with each win. dubaidu­tyfree.com BT

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