Last year Dubai overtook London to become the most important international shopping destination globally, with 62% of the world’s largest retail brands having a presence in the city. And it’s easy to see why. Ranked as the fourth most visited city in the world and having the highest average spend per tourist, the city is home to some of the largest malls and even has the world’s highest number of food and beverage outlets per capita. Dubai Retail
We were recently in the UAE and here’s our pick of the best in Dubai retail.
Financial Centre Rd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
If we had to pick a favourite, this would be it. We could write a whole blog just on the experience of shopping at Dubai mall, it really is that amazing.
Everything about Dubai is all about living large and nowhere is that more apparent than Dubai Mall. Firstly the size of the mall is mind blowing. It’s the largest mall in the world by total land area and could fill five Empire State Buildings. The mall attracts more than 80 million shoppers yearly, that’s more than the total number of people who visited New York last year.
The retail precincting is impressive and some of the best we’ve ever seen. For example, there’s a entire precinct “Level Shoes” that is a dedicated 96,000 feet multi brand luxury shoe space, a specialised hub just for electronics and a sports / leisure wear precinct. There’s also the aptly named Souk, a modern Arabian marketplace of 200 odd small boutiques selling gold, jewellery and other accessories. There’s even a giant 155 million year old dinosaur skeleton in the middle of it all.
However where Dubai Mall really shines in our opinion is not in the fashion or food, but rather in it’s entertainment options. There’s the Dubai aquarium (the largest indoor aquarium in the world) where you can either watch or scuba dive, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, a virtual reality theme park, a haunted house, KidZania (a theme park for kids) and a 22 screen cinema. There’s even a dedicated Sleep Pod lounge where you can book a private pod for an hour long power nap.
The Mall of Emirates
Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
While we do prefer Dubai Mall, the Mall of Emirates (also one of the largest malls in the world) has one thing going for it – a 22,500 square metre indoor ski resort featuring a 85-metre-high indoor mountain! Skiing in Dubai is an absolutely surreal experience – experiencing snow in the middle of a shopping centre knowing that it is scorching hot outside. It’s an amazing example of how malls are reinventing themselves, remaining relevant and competing in the digital age. In particular, by offering leisure and entertainment options that can never be matched online.
The Flip Side,
Unit 71, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Whilst Dubai is best known for it’s enormous malls and shopping centres, it’s also home to some pretty cool up-and-coming concept stores. For instance the Flip Side.
Located in the Alserkal Avenue community, a industrial compound of warehouses dedicated to hosting a range of local and global artists, the Flip Side is billed as the only independent vinyl record shop in the UAE. The brand was built on the belief that a record store is an integral part of any community and it’s mission is to turn people onto music they normally wouldn’t have discovered themselves. After all, if you know what you want you can just get it online, people come into store to experience new music.
The Flip Side is impressive in that it acts as a hub for the local music scene rather than your traditional record store. It hosts in-store events, documentary screenings, release parties, live music and talks. It’s also interesting in it’s laid-back approach to growing this community. They have their own non conventional way of operating, designed for flexibility and the opportunity to surprise customers. There’s no official programme, rather each week or so, an in-store event pop ups on the schedule spontaneously and spreads through either word-of-mouth or via their Facebook page. It even has it’s own merchandise, zine, radio show and is looking to launch it’s own label.
Building Number 9, Shop number 105, Dubai Design District, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When it comes to fashion (or as The Cartel describes it… “wearable art), this place is one of Dubai’s must go-to spots. The showroom is both a clever and creative use of hybrid space – part photo studio, gallery and a concept store rolled into one featuring a selection of over 50 international designers. What sets the Cartel even further apart from other fashion retailers, is that much like art itself the products are often exclusive to the store.
The Good Life
Street 8 Alserkal Avenue Unit G-64, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
More money then sense? Like spending insane amounts of money on rare exclusive sneakers? Then check out The Good Life (also in Alserkal Avenue) – a sneakerhead’s paradise!
Originally founded in Beirut, the store opened a concept store in Dubai in 2017. Whilst the best shoe retailer in Dubai would easily go to the enormous Level Shoes in Dubai Mall, The Good Life absolutely oozes cool. The brand recognises that for many in the “sneaker movement” the journey of finding, buying and showcasing their collection is just as important as the sneakers themselves. They even host workshops on sneaker care.