Sunday, February 14, 2010

Frustrations of Shopping

Shopping in the UAE is an interesting but frustrating experience.

In Sydney, we had a choice of shopping malls but in general each shopping mall always had the same major and mini-major department stores.  Myer / David Jones and then shops like Rebel Sports, the super markets, K-Mart / Target etc.

But in Dubai, each shop tends to be more unique and the common stores are not necessarily common to every mall in the city.  This means you have to think about what you want before you go and then select the mall where you need to go to.

Yesterday, we needed to get Kate some clothes and a small amount of gear (a backpack and a sleeping bag) for her upcoming school camping trip.  And the clothes included a specific item - decent boardshorts for swimming.  The school requested that all girls wear swimming costumes that "ideally go to the knee" in length because the camp was in the more religiously conservative Sharjah.  So we thought board shorts.

So the mall selected was the Dubai Outlet Mall.  We drove out there and the mall is biggish without being too massive.  We went to the sports clothing outlet store and were able to find soccer boots for Brooke (which weren't on the list) and some bikinis at ridiculously cheap prices but no girls boardshorts and no camping gear despite the store having every other bit of sporting equipment you can poke a stick at.

So after some lunch, we drove to Dubai Mall.  I kid you not, this place is massive... its the biggest Mall in the world.  It is hard to measure, but it has 8 levels of carpark, has 4 levels of Mall, is extremely long and wide.  It is oddly shaped and you walk around the perimeter in an arc like pattern and it has a crossing lane across the guts of the mall so that it looks Phi symbol but also has some side arcades... anyway thats a crap explanation, check out the website and maps.

We went to Dubai Mall because we knew that they had a Roxy and Billabong surf shops.  Aussie surf shops always stock board shorts and we weren't disappointed.  We also went there because it has an Etisalat (the UAE's version of Telstra) and I needed to see someone about my mobile phone account.  In addition, we tried to find a camp store or sports store that sold camping gear but we were unfortunately out of luck.

But the whole expedition took hours and after leaving the house at 11:30am, we returned home at around 5pm with some items but not everything. I think the whole problem was that we were exhausted and spent so many times at the public display maps and concierge desks and being directed to a shop 3 levels up or down and about a kilometer away as the crow flies.

To put this mall into perspective it has:
- a full size olympic ice rink
- an indoor theme park (Sega Republic) including a couple of roller coasters
- an indoor aquarium including the worlds largest fish tank
- a massive cinema which includes an IMAX
- a kids theme park called Kidszania
- about 5 centre courts

It's an amazing place to visit and is a beautiful mall, but its not a great place when you want to just duck in and grab a few things... Murphy's Law was having a field day sending us this way and that!

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