Yesterday was the final day of my trip and I flew up from Yemen to Dubai to catch my long flights home. I had a 12 hour layover in Dubai yesterday and I was debating what to do with myself. I had already seen everything that I wanted to see and in fact all there is to see as the rest of the city will be completed in a few years. So against everything that I believe in I went to the Mall of the Emirates which is the biggest mall in Dubai and one of the biggest in the world to kill the time. It was actually pretty interesting, as far as mall experiences go.
The Mall of the Emirates is a massive place with seemingly a zillion stores and unending hallways that seem to have no basis for the outlay. However, all of the hundreds of stores are really nice stores. There are no random mom and pop stores, no little sporting goods stores; all of the stores in this mall would be seen on 5th Avenue, Rodeo Drive, Bond Street-take your pick.
Additionally, this is the famous mall that houses the massive Ski Dubai indoor ski mountain. I have to admit it is pretty amazing to see. First, it is really big and has two slopes, a full luge run and a sled run for kids. The temperature is always kept at like 3 degrees below zero or so and the snow looks and feels real. I didn’t go skiing but I did go and check it out as I had plenty of time to kill.
There is an observation area from the mall where tourists and locals alike take pictures and admire the feat of having a skiing mountain in the middle of the desert. Additionally, there is a hotel resembling a ski lodge that overlooks the mountain too-that’s a pretty cool view.
This mall as it currently stands is the center of the Dubai social network. It is packed all of the time and has shows for people to watch that brings in international performers to perform right in the middle of the mall. It also boasts at least 100 coffee shops (Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, Second Cup, Costa-you name it, they got it) for everyone to sit and be social (Maybe not quite 100 but it’s a lot).
The mall also had 4 massive food courts that are packed until midnight or better. You couldn’t even imagine how long the wait for Chili’s was yesterday-I was dying for some nachos but wasn’t about to wait in line for 2 hours for them.
I also have to say that it’s weird to watch the Arab women who wear the traditional head garb that covers their entire face except for their eyes eat. It just doesn’t look comfortable, but they trudge onward and then head to Gucci to buy $2000 shoes aplenty!
Next, I don’t really see this too much in the States-at least in New York, I’d imagine it’s more a of a suburban thing. The vast majority of the little kids in the mall yesterday had those sneakers (trainers, tennis shoes) that have the wheels on the bottom of them. There were so many kids just scooting around the mall it made me wonder how they don’t kill themselves and how their parents let them do that.
Inevitably, it happened. Some boy totally wiped out and crashed into a bench and fell and banged his head pretty hard and was crying hysterically. Although I felt bad for the kid and obviously I didn’t want him to get hurt, I am thinking to myself-of course thats going to happen dummy as the mother runs over to console him. That has to happen all of the time with those things. I don’t know how they work or how you get the wheels out sometimes and sometimes they are not but that just seems stupid to me-but hey…whatever.
Finally, after I couldn’t take any more of the Dubai mall culture, I realized there was a movie theatre in the mall and went and saw ‘No Country For Old Men’ with Arabic subtitles and it was one of the best movies I have seen in the last 5 years-it was excellent!
The only problem I had was that nobody turned their cell phones off during the movie and people were talking the whole time-talk about annoying. They didn’t make an announcement before the movie started to turn off phones like they always do in the US.
Anyway, it was an interesting experience, that is my day at the Mall of the Emirates. My head is still spinning from how big it was and how grand the stores were but ironically the Dubai Mall, which is under construction, and also Mall of Arabia will be even bigger malls in Dubai upon completion in late 2008 or early 2009.
As if the 25 huge malls they already have aren’t enough.
I won’t be going back to Dubai anytime soon but I will certainly be interested in seeing what it looks like in 10 years or so-I can’t even imagine.