Broke or rich, you can survive in Dubai. Sure, when you think about Dubai, you immediately think of a high end, expensive and luxurious lifestyle. This is not always the case, as just outside of Downtown Dubai lay Deira; where you can find locals, and bargained shopping. The main attraction of Deira that I wanted to see was definitely the Souks (markets). To get there you can either drive, or take a small boat (Abra) across the Dubai Creek. We decided on the latter.
The boat ride was interesting and neat, as they were just small boats that held about 15 people on them, and they continuously came. We jumped on, paid our 1 Dirham each, and were on our way. The ride itself was short, maybe 5 – 7 minutes total. When we got off we were a little confused on where to go, but just went with the crowd and saw the markets up ahead. Now, about these markets… I don’t even know how to describe it. I mean when I read about India and how people are always aggressive trying to sell, I thought okay, maybe it’s bad, but it won’t be that bad. So coming to Dubai, I thought everyone is nicer and friendlier, and there will be no aggressiveness. Oh man, I could not be any more wrong! From the moment you reach proximity to the store owner’s shop, they will not stop harassing you. Even if you pay no attention to them at all, they will still walk and pursue you. Although it was cool to experience it, and somewhat prepare myself for what would be coming in India, it was really annoying, and I just wanted to leave. You could not browse items in peace, and that really irritated me, as I am sure there would have been things I wanted to buy, but not with them harassing me. We went from the Spice Souk to the Gold Souk to the Textile Souk just browsing for about an hour to an hour and a half. We were able to find a couple things, souvenirs mostly, that were incredibly cheap. Especially compared to what we would have paid in the city. We didn’t realize that we would have finished so quickly, so we chose to spend the rest of the evening at the Dubai Mall and familiarizing ourselves as we would need to be back early the next morning for The Burj Khalifa.
The train ride to the Dubai Mall was much better, as it was less crowded this time, and it was shorter. I am not a fan of public transit, so the less time spent on, the better. As soon as we got off the train, there was the walk… Now don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t such a long walk that it tired me out, or that the stop should have been closer. It was more that the fact that the stop said the Dubai Mall, but you basically had to walk two or three TTC stops essentially, to get to the entrance of the mall. One perk of the long walk was that they had moving floors that helped get you there faster, or if you are lazy, will move you. Once we entered the mall… amazement. I mean I knew it was big, and there were a ton of stores, but when you are actually inside, and see everything, it’s much more than you expect. To put this in perspective, there are 4 floors. There are 3 main levels, and a bottom floor, which is probably about a quarter of the size, of the main levels. Now the bottom floor itself, is probably one level of The Toronto Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. Therefore, the Dubai Mall is about 6 times the size. Granted, these are all estimations, based off what I saw. But this mall… oh you can easily get lost! I’m not too big on malls, as I like to go in, get what I need and get out. But at the same time, if there is a new mall I am going to, I want to have walked the entire mall, and see all the stores that are available. Doing that with this mall was pretty hard. My ideal mall is one that starts at one end, and finishes at another; think Markville Mall. Or, a mall that is a complete circle, like Vaughan Mills. Those malls are perfect! You can go in at one end, walk the normal path, and complete the mall. What I hate is when there are paths that go everywhere, and the Dubai Mall definitely had that.
We didn’t spend too much time at the mall, as we still had to make it back to the Mall of Emirates before it closed. We just walked around for a little to get a taste of the mall, and sat down for coffee in a café. One thing I really liked about the mall was that there are tons of café’s throughout the mall, and they are all located in the middle of the walkways. So to visualize, instead of stalls in the middle of the paths, like Toronto malls, there were actual sit down cafés. About every 100 feet you walked, you would see another one. There were plenty of different options to choose from. We didn’t spend more than two hours in the mall, and felt that we only covered a fraction of the place. We then headed back to the metro (thankfully, for the last time) and back to the Mall of Emirates. When we got back, we were pretty hungry, so decided to eat at Shake Shack. Now this was a place I had wanted to try for a LONG time. Years ago I had seen it in a TV show, and ever since then, I heard about it from Americans whether it is in movies, TV shows, or just celebrities eating at it. Considering there were none in Canada, when I read that they had locations in Dubai I knew it was a must. As always, whenever I go to a burger joint, I always get the fried chicken sandwich, and this time was no different. First impressions of eating the burger, was that it was delicious. The meat was really juicy, and the sandwich as a whole was very satisfying. Now I don’t know if this was because I was starving or it was actually good, but as I finished the sandwich, I went on to the fries, and that is where things changed. I was excited at first for the fries, because they were crinkle fries, which are the second best type of fries, in my opinion. Curly fries are obviously number 1. Overall, I’d say my expectations were let down. I may give it another chance in the future, when I am in the states, but not as a meal overseas. After dinner, it was time to head back as the mall was closing. We were pretty beat by the time we got back to the hotel, so we ended up crashing early that night.
The next morning we made sure to get up early to have the buffet breakfast from the hotel, and attempted to make it to the mall as early as possible. We had tickets for 10:30 am at The Burj Khalifa. Thankfully we made it earlier than expected and were able to get in quickly, with no issues.
After finishing with The Burj Khalifa, we headed back down and into the mall, for exploration. To be honest, there was no real way to start, the only positive was that we were on the bottom floor after getting out, and as such we walked that route, to make our way up. Thankfully, the bottom floor was one straight path, so when we reached the end, we took the escalator up, and that’s where chaos ensued. Go straight? Go back? Go left? Go right? Who knew? So we decided to just walk straight and see where the path took us. Let me reiterate the fact that this mall is HUGE. When we met what we thought was an end/turn in the mall, there ended up being two paths to choose – left or right? I had somewhat a sense of direction, and placement in the mall, and thought that if we went right, it was only for a bit before we ended at an exit, and we would turn back. We went right, and sure enough I was correct. It was only a short walk, before there was an exit to the mall, and we headed right back. Now to go into depth of the mall, and all the stores available, it would take FOREVER! So I will just do a brief summary. The mall itself is extraordinary. The Sheikh who commissioned this mall, definitely, in my eyes, made the greatest mall in the world. From what I saw, almost every store you can think of, it was there. The only two that stood out, that were not, was an HMV and a Disney store. Maybe they did research and determined they wouldn’t do well? I don’t know, but definitely this mall had pretty much any store you would need – especially when it came to clothes. One thing that I thought was cool was that majority of the stores would have the English name, and the Arabic writing beside it. I know it’s something small, and many people would assume that they should have it, being in an Arabic country. But just seeing it there, I found it to give a more classy touch to the mall.
Now, on to the food court! There were multiple food courts throughout the mall, but the main one was its own great creation. Let me just say this about the food court… it is not like food courts in Toronto malls. No! These foods courts are actually legit restaurants that provide full-service. There are also the quick fast-food ones that you typically see in regular malls, as well. Any craving that you had, there was definitely a restaurant to satisfy. This goes hand in hand with the food court at the Mall of Emirates, as we ate there two nights ago. When we were at the Mall of Emirates, we ate at California Pizza Kitchen. That dinner was amazing and service was exceptional. To be honest, throughout the whole Dubai trip, I cannot remember one time we actually received bad service. Today, while at the mall, we wanted something small, as we didn’t want to fill up too much before our huge dinner that evening. We walked around the food court before we spotted Texas Chicken which is also known as Church’s Chicken in North America. As soon as I saw it, it became my number 1 choice. Granted, there were a ton of different places that appealed, but I love my chicken! The food was beyond delicious! Had we not have a big dinner planned; I would have definitely ordered another sandwich. We also got the spicy fries, which were also quite tasteful. It was a definite improvement over the fries from Shake Shack. To be honest, coming to the mall just for food selection is good enough. There are so many different options, if you combined all the food stops, it could make up its own mall.
This mall is where shopaholics would definitely need their credit card, because before you know it, you would have spent hundreds on just the first level. The store selections are quite diverse, and everyone would be able to find a place of interest. The entire Dubai Mall far exceeded my expectations in store selection as well as food. Actually, both The Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates were great, and I definitely rank them higher than any mall in Toronto. That could also be due to the reason that I am so used to malls here, but overall, they were quite enjoyable, and I would love to visit them again, in my next trip to Dubai.