From the old days when its souks attracted merchants from around the region to trade in textiles, spices, pearls, gold, and carpets, to its present-day reality as a stylish city with its pulse on the latest international trends, Dubai makes no secret of its love of shopping. Gargantuan malls dot nearly every area in the city, and frequent sales and shopping festivals only fuel that love.
Thanks to harsh summertime temperatures that can make spending time outdoors challenging for a few months, much of social life has also come to center around shopping malls. With world-class restaurants, cozy cafes, pop-up events, interesting activities, and live performances, there’s never a dull moment in Dubai’s shopping malls.
READ MORE: Dubai Digital Nomad Travel Guide
The Dubai Mall
One of the largest shopping malls in the world, the ultra-glamorous Dubai Mall is understandably the first stop in Dubai for most visiting shopaholics. The mall is the size of a small town and you’ll find everything from hiking boots and sunglasses to Smart TVs and designer evening wear. Within the mall, the high-end Fashion Avenue is home to the likes of brands like Louis Vuitton, Elie Saab, Alexander McQueen, and Boucheron.
The Dubai Mall is one of the best entertainment hubs in the city with attractions such as the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, home to over 140 species of marine animals, Dubai Ice Rink where you can ice skate to upbeat music, VR Park Dubai, a virtual and augmented reality center, and the Reel Cinemas multiplex. The mall also offers access to the Dubai Fountain where water fountains sway to the music and if you want to access the observation decks of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscrapers, you can go through At The Top.
When it comes to dining, there’s a dizzying choice of over 200 restaurants and cafes at the Dubai Mall and the heritage-style Souk Al Bahar, which lies just across a bridge over Burj Lake. There’s free WiFi in the mall, so it’s the perfect place to work in a cafe and people-watch while being indoors.
One of the coolest places to hang out on Palm Jumeirah, the Nakheel Mall is a good choice if you want to go shopping without the crowds of the other more centrally located shopping malls. You’ll find popular brands in beauty and fashion such as H&M, Beverly Hills Polo Club, and Birkenstock, plus niche luxury brands like Arabian Oud for local oud perfume and Cities for designer homeware.
Don’t miss Depachika Food Hall which sells gourmet products like baked goods, specialty coffee, and pop-up restaurants by some of Dubai’s best homegrown brands, under a single roof. Nakheel Mall is also a must-visit for some of Dubai’s newest attractions such as The View, a 240-meter high observation deck on the 52nd level of the Palm Tower that overlooks the Palm Jumeirah Islands. If you like poolside cocktails, book a day at Aura Skypool, the world’s highest infinity pool located on the 50th floor, or if you’re feeling hungry, make reservations for the swanky Japanese-Brazilian eatery Sushisamba on the 51st floor.
Mall of the Emirates
With convenient metro access and a central location, Mall of the Emirates is one of the best shopping malls in Dubai. You’ll find an extensive range of well-known luxury brands in fashion, beauty, skincare, footwear, homeware, furniture, and electronics, as well as many restaurants and cafes. Even though it’s popular, this mall isn’t chaotic or bursting with crowds during the weekends.
At Ski Dubai, a 4,500 square-meter indoor ski resort, you can pretend to be oblivious to the summer heat and learn to ski, go sledding, or try thrilling rides in a temperature-controlled winter wonderland. To take a break from shopping, book a session at Yalla Bowling or watch a film at Vox Cinemas. You should also check out The Theater, which hosts temporary art exhibitions and events throughout the year.
A sprawling waterfront retail and dining district on Palm Jumeirah, The Pointe attracts crowds throughout the week not just for the many lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food brands under its roof, but also for the Palm Fountain which is the biggest musical fountain in the world. The massive fountain dances to popular international hits while shooting water up to 105 meters in the air. The Pointe is a great dining destination on Palm Jumeirah and the offerings here range from casual Indian restaurants and seafront seafood restaurants to cool urban food halls. There’s also plenty of entertainment including cinemas, water sports, padel tennis, a boxing gym, and play areas for kids.
The Beach is an open-air retail district located along the lively JBR Beach. There is a decent, but not overwhelming, selection of stores here in the fashion, beauty, athletic, and beachwear categories. The main draw here is the beach which offers beautiful views of the Arabian Sea and Ain Dubai, the world’s highest observation wheel. Enjoy a fun beach day in a cabana at the Sea Breeze Beach Club or try watersports like jet skiing or stand-up paddleboarding. Beachfront dining options include Eataly, a market dedicated to Italian cuisine, and the Japanese street food concept restaurant Akiba Dori. After a bit of shopping, you can head to Bla Bla Dubai for a night out. This venue hosts a collection of 20 bars, three restaurants, and a beach club.
The Outlet Village
Built in the architectural style of a medieval Italian town, The Outlet Village is for discerning luxury shoppers interested in buying the most exclusive fashion and lifestyle brands at significantly discounted outlet prices. Armani, Carolina Herrera, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, and Giuseppe Zanotti are just a few of the high-end brands that you’ll find here. It’s easy to walk around the entire mall in just a few hours, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in value-for-money. When you want to rest your legs, sit down at one of six restaurants and cafes for a quick coffee or soft-serve ice cream.