We despise shopping. We rarely venture to the shops and only when it's absolutely necessary. Even then we often come home empty-handed and frustrated. When visiting Dubai however, we felt compelled to visit one of the gigantic shopping malls that we'd heard so much about. Dubai Mall, until recently the largest mall in the world, seemed like an appropriate choice. Surprisingly, we were entertained for hours with no need to even enter a shop.
The Gold Souk
Of all the things we expected to encounter in the depths of the Gold Souk, a dinosaur was not on the list. Especially not a real one. Imaginatively named the Dubai Dino, this 25-metre long Diplodocus skeleton is thought to be around 155 million years old.
The Gold Souk
The gold souk at Dubai Mall is a far cry from the usual dusty streets with hawkers hounding you, desperately peddling their wares. Strolling around the stylish, modern bazaar, not one person approached us with a sales pitch. We wandered through themed courtyards, among golden camels and falcons and even watched a group of men performing. Dressed in white robes with smart red waistcoats they sang a simple, somewhat repetitive, chorus in Arabic accompanied by some drums.
Right in the middle of Dubai Mall, we came across the 10 million litre fish tank that is part of Dubai Aquarium. This was a definite highlight for us and we joined the crowds delighting in the antics of the tank's inhabitants. We watched jacks darting in all directions, nurse sharks cruising calmly by and huge rays flapping across the glass giving us a close up view of their undersides. We also saw some young divers taking their first breaths underwater.
The Shark Tank
Candylicious Sweet Shop
We visited Dubai Mall several times and only actually went into one shop. It was worth it. Barely through the door of Candylicious, we were confronted by a huge Reese's peanut butter cup mascot that was wandering around. The money-blowing machine looked like fun and we watched in amusement as people leapt around inside the booth trying to catch the flying tokens. Some did well, some not so well but all seemed to be rewarded with the same goody bag afterwards. There was a production line for Christmas sweets too. We saw them cover a huge white squidgy lump in coloured candy and pull, twist and chop it into many little candy canes. We were given a sample of the candy, which was delicious and still warm.
Making Christmas Sweets
Dubai Mall Art
You may think a shark tank and a dinosaur would be enough. That's not to mention the skating rink, A380 flight simulator and the world's largest OLED screen. There are also art installations all around Dubai Mall. Our favourite was the Waterfall, which spanned all 4 floors of the complex.
The Dubai Fountain
The fun continues outside Dubai Mall with regular fountain shows. One night we listened to lively Arabic music as the fountains gently twisted and weaved across the pool in a mesmerising display. Another evening we were treated to a dramatic spectacle as the fountains blasted high into the air accompanied by the Mission: Impossible theme tune. This was a reference to the adjacent Burj Khalifa's appearance in the fourth Mission: Impossible film.
The world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, is attached to the Dubai Mall. Like much of downtown Dubai, it's a thoughtfully designed, super-shiny feat of modern engineering. Guessing the view would be spectacular, we took a trip up to the 125th floor to see for ourselves. We already knew Dubai was a very long, thin coast-hugging city surrounded by desert. It was still surprising to see just a handful of buildings between us and the vast expanses of sand stretching off into the distance.
Dubai Mall Travel Tips
The weekend in Dubai is Friday and Saturday so Dubai Mall gets very busy on these days. Plan your visit accordingly.
See the Dubai Fountain in action any evening from 6pm to 11pm. There is a show every 30 minutes. There are occasional shows during the afternoon too. Check the show schedule for more details.
The observation decks at Burj Khalifa are quieter before the mall opens at 10am. Get there early to avoid the crowds. Book your tickets online in advance too as it is much cheaper.
How To Get To Dubai Mall
We took the metro to the Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station. From the metro station, there is an air-conditioned walkway to the mall. The walkway is around 1km long but if you don't want to walk there are shuttle buses from the station.
It's also possible to take a bus. Buses on route 27 or route 29 stop at Dubai Mall.
Alternatively, take a taxi.