What to do in Dubai - Shopping

Many destinations claim to be a haven for shoppers but few deliver in quite the same spectacular fashion as Dubai. What else would you expect from a city that has annual shopping festivals and the world’s largest shopping mall?

Shopping in Dubai is a great experience that you will not encounter anywhere else in the world. From a shopping centre with a huge ski slope to a shopping centre with an ice rink and aquarium, Dubai malls have it all. Whether you are a theme park enthusiast or fine dining connoisseur, Dubai’s malls have what it takes to make it onto your ‘must-do’ list.

The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall spans more than 13 million square feet and holds the world record for size. It has been named as the most visited leisure and shopping destination in the world, attracting more visitors in a year than the whole of New York City.

The Dubai Mall boasts an almost unbelievable 1,200 shops and services. There are no less than 120 cafes and restaurants, a vast multiplex cinema, an ice rink together with an underwater zoo and aquarium that is home to more than 33,000 different species.

For more information visit The Dubai Mall website.

Dubai mall

Aquarium at Dubai Mall by neekohfi.

Mall of the Emirates

The Mall of the Emirates is one of the most famous, not least because it is amongst the largest in the world. It houses a real-snow ski slope, not to mention an entertainment complex; over 500 shops; and even the renowned Kempinski Hotel.

For more information, visit Mall of the Emirates website.

Mall of the emirates

Mall of the Emirates by Peter Gronemann.

Ibn Battuta Mall

The Ibn Battuta Mall combines six themed courts based on the extensive travels of the famous 14th century Arabic explorer Ibn Baṭūṭah. The mall is divided into Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China, with each section containing its own amazing architecture as well as exhibits from the corresponding countries.

Ibn Battuta has over 200 retail stores, more than 40 restaurants and food outlets and the United Arab Emirates only IMAX theatre.

For more information visit Ibn Battuta Mall website.

Ibn batutta mall

Ibn Battuta Mall by Mohammad Usman.

Sample the souks

Long before the malls were built, Dubai became famous for its souks and they continue to hold an alluring appeal today. These are not merely tourist attractions; they constitute a vital part of everyday life.

For a modern take on a souk, head to the undeniably stunning Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Its Old Arabian style offers a contemporary incarnation of the traditional souk, complete with air-conditioning.

If you’re looking for something more traditional make sure you explore the Gold and Spice Souks. Both Souks are located in the heart of Dubai's commercial business district and are littered with glittering window displays, colourful decorations and of course a range of gold and spices that will be difficult to beat.

Sample of souks

Inside Souk Madinat by Leonardo Aguiar.

Shopping festivals in Dubai

The Dubai Shopping Festival (also known as DSF) is one of the longest running shopping festivals and is far more than a celebration of retail therapy. The festival has three pillars: Shopping, Entertainment and Winning, and each year offers residents and visitors world-class entertainment, life-changing prizes, and fantastic citywide discounts and special offers. The event is held in January and February every year and boasts a wide range of cultural activities, traditional performances and nightly fireworks.

Whilst the main shopping festival is held in the high season during Dubai’s winter months, there is also a newer, summer version called Dubai Summer Surprises. This is held between the end of June and the end of August, and offers even more entertainment and bargains for the whole family to enjoy.

Shopping festivals

Handy hints

  • Malls in Dubai are usually open between 10am and 10pm each day, although some open at 2pm on Fridays.
  • Some stores outside of the malls, including those in the local souks, may close at around noon and re-open at around 5pm.

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