It’s said that Dubai is like no other city on earth, and it certainly delivers a level of consumerism that so far appears unmatched – after all, this is the place that invented the ‘shopping festival’, so leave the credit crunch behind and splash out on some new toys. Many international airlines offer cheap flights to Dubai so, with the money you save on travel, you can afford to spoil yourself.
Of course, there’s more to this Middle Eastern playground than just a retail stop-over. Nevertheless, most people’s first impression is of one giant shopping mall glittering with consumer desirables. Indeed, Dubai Mall is more like a city in its own right, with an ice rink, aquarium, theme parks and many different restaurants to entertain the non-shoppers in the party while the shoppers go dizzy with a choice of around 1,200 stores across four floors. Browse through the biggest designer names in the world on sumptuous Fashion Avenue, pick up a souvenir of the Big Apple at the first Bloomingdale’s outside the USA, or go native at the gold souk housed beneath the beautiful Treasury Dome.
If you prefer to get your retail kicks in the open air, head for The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence. This shopping and dining promenade links the prestigious residential development with the beach and the marina and is a magnet for browsers and bargain-hunters, as well as a great place to people-watch from the comfort of one of the many sidewalk cafes, especially at night when the strip is packed with gleaming supercars and their glamorous passengers.
The largest gold market in the region and one of the largest in the world is held in the streets around the main thoroughfare of Sikkat al-Khail Street. Here you can haggle for everything from tasteful diamonds to extreme bling while soaking up the colourful sights and sounds of traders from all corners of the globe. Once you’ve filled your jewellery box and emptied your wallet, head off to the nearby fish market to admire the shiny-scaled wares and maybe pick up something delicious for lunch – shopping in Dubai has many facets!
Dubai prides itself on its reputation for excess, and sights don’t come more excessive than the world-famous Burj Khalifa; the world’s tallest building. Visitors can ride to the observation deck on the 124th floor for a spectacular view of the city 828 metres below, including iconic landmarks such as the Palm archipelagos, bolt-holes of the super-rich and ultra-famous, which fan out into the sea in the shape of palm trees.
For a taste of old Arabia that will transport you to a world long before the iPad, take a stroll along the wharf where many traditional dhows are moored. These long, flat vessels were originally built as traders in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and are still plying the precarious route between Dubai and countries such as Iran, Yemen and Somalia. Or take a trip south to the desert of Abu Dhabi and experience the pungent atmosphere of the famous camel market at Al Ain, where you may spot a racing champion of the future!