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Friday 22 May 2015

Welcome to Everything


It’s official, The Dubai Mall has been recognised as the largest shopping centre in the world by ‘The Guiness Book of Records.’ This is not surprising as there is nothing quite like it anywhere else on earth. With over 1,200 retail outlets and attractions, shopping, dining, leisure and entertainment choices abound in the inimitable razzmataz of pleasure and indulgence that only Dubai can pull off Lisa Durante explores.



The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall, UAE

Largest Shopping Centre in The World

The first time I visited The Dubai Mall was shortly after it opened in November 2008. The intention had been to visit Sisters Beauty Lounge located on Level 1, but I missed my appointment because I had parked too far away from it on another level miles away. By the time Sandra, Sister’s star colourist, saw my panting, sweaty self; the allocated time had come and gone and she could do nothing for me.


This experience left an indelible dent on my confidence. Even though I live on the Satwa, Jumeirah One border which is a mere stone’s throw away from this 12.1 million square foot architectural ode to consumerism, I never set foot in the mall again.


I gave The Dubai Mall another go nearly a year later, thanks to the release of James Cameron latest sci-fi blockbuster which was being aired in the mall’s 22-screen Reel Cinemas on the second floor dedicated to entertainment attractions. I wanted to see the movie and I wanted to see it in 3-D. It meant surrendering to the unknown. This time around however, the trajectory was carefully planned and armed with the simplest and yet most effective of tools – a mall guide – where to park and where to go was as clear as the sharp three-dimensional universe of ‘Pandora’. Both the movie Avatar and my foray to The Dubai Mall was a success. My mission was accomplished.


Or so I thought. The odd thing about parallel universes is that they keep calling you back. That is true of the three dimensional realities to be lived in the fantastical movie, as it is of the multi facetted offerings of The Dubai Mall which was born to be enjoyed, not feared like an alien intent on swallowing up unprepared innocents like myself.


Now that I have gained this awareness, I feel ready to embark on a voyage of discovery. With over 1,200 outlets, as opposed to the mere 450 to be found in Dubai’s next largest mall, this landmark has a lot to offer. It functions on four levels both figuratively and symbolically.


The Dubai Mall which broke ground in 2004 is today a mammoth of retail diversity organised according to category specific areas, anchored by two department store brands of global repute in two corners. The strategy of the retail area is to be grouped into categories due to its massive size.


As a nation-building tool for socio-economic diversification meticulously designed to offer prized tourists the attractions such as a giant aquarium, singing fountains and gushing waterfalls that make for ideal photo ops and memories in their albums of Dubai.


As a statement of the undeniable truth that despite its invariable systemic vicissitudes, Dubai has succeeded in creating enduring, world class, record breaking landmarks for the world to enjoy and for Dubai’s people to be proud of.


Galeries Lafayette
French retailer, Galeries Lafayette has chosen The Dubai Mall to open its first department store in the Middle East and occupies 195,259 square feet across three storeys. Founded in 1895, Galeries Lafayette is a purveyor of fashion, food and home ware par excellance. Its other store outside France is in Berlin.


Welcome to Bloomingdale’s first outlet outside the US. This 201,143 total sqft four-storey department store is part of an illustrious retail chain founded in 1872. Bloomingdale’s is a division of Macy’s Inc. and operates 40 stores across the US. In the UAE, Bloomingdale’s is the largest department store and also houses the signature bakery, Magnolia’s.



The Dubai Fountain
The world’s largest dancing fountain that sprays up to 500 feet is set in Burj Lake right outside The Dubai Mall’s Waterfront Promenade. Under the night sky and dancing in sync with classical Arabic and world music, the fountain is fitted with over 6,600 WET Superlights (a patented technology from WET Design, the California-based company also responsible for the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas) – the most advanced incandescent large fountain lights and 25 colour projectors creating a visual spectrum of over 1,000 abstract attractions.


This striking water feature called The Waterfall is a true crowd puller. With a height of 24 metres and diameter of 30 metres, viewed from all the four levels, the waterfall displays artistic sculptures of human divers with hands spread sideward that appear to plunge down the waterfalls. The Waterfall is formed by two cylindrical structures with an overhead reservoir feeding the recycled water. The waterfall is a perfect complement to the mall’s lifestyle offering.


Dubai Ice Rink
The Dubai Mall is home to an Olympic-sized ice rink in Dubai. Offering over 1,800 pairs of skates to fit children and adults of all ages and sizes, the rink uses refrigeration plant technology by developing 1.5 inches (38 mm) of ice bed, almost 3 times the thickness of an NHL ice rink. The ice rink offers themed nights, learn-to skate programmes, figure skating lessons and hockey matches. The multi-purpose venue can be converted into a multi-functional hall with multimedia system including a 20mX10m LED screen.


Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
The world’s ‘Largest Acrylic Panel’ another Guinness World Record, encapsulates an aquarium in The Dubai Mall. Weighing 245,614 kg and measuring 32.88m wide x 8.3m high x 750 mm thick, the acrylic viewing panel can withstand pressure of 10 million litres of water used in the aquarium. The actual tank itself measures 50mx11mx20m. Over 33,000 aquatic creatures occupy the aquarium including 300 sharks and rays.


SEGA Republic
SEGA Republic is the largest family-oriented indoor theme park in the Middle East. The 76,000 sq ft. high-adrenaline indoor theme park spread over two levels has nine heart stopping motion simulator attractions and 150-plus amusement games, including cutting-edge motion simulators, classic carnival games, competitive tests of skill and redemption games.


The park is divided into five themed zones- the Speed Zone, Adventure Zone, Sports Zone, Cyberpop Zone and Redemption Zone.


SEGA Republic was developed in partnership with SEGA Corporation, Japan’s leading indoor theme park developer and the creator of numerous world renowned video games such as the Sonic the Hedgehog series, SEGA Republic has easy access to the mall’s car park.


Reel Cinemas

Reel Cinemas is the first theatre in Dubai with a THX certification, a dedicated Arthouse showing independent films and with 22 screens, is the largest megaplex in the country. Spread over 150,000 sq ft, Reel Cinemas houses 4 Platinum Movies Suites, The Picturehouse and 17 commercial halls including Screen 22 that accommodates over 300 people. While the Platinum Movie suites offer a luxurious experience with lounges and butler service, The Picturehouse is for a serious movie buff that screens critically acclaimed films and movies globally.



Claiming Guinness World Records has been no mean feat for The Dubai Mall. With the record breaking Burj Khalifa looming upwards right next-door, The Dubai Mall has its own reason to be proud of - it is now officially the biggest mall in the world.