The phoenix rises again from the ashes. The phoenix, of course, being Oasis Centre, which returns nearly four years after the original building burned to the ground back in 2005. The new, improved version cost Dhs900 million, spans 1.44 million square feet with retail space spread across four levels and looks bigger and brighter. It’s easy to find, as it’s in the same location just past Interchange Two on Sheikh Zayed Road.
Unfortunately, it’s still a bit of a pain to get to if you’re heading south, as you’ll have to exit at the interchange and go round the back through Al Quoz. On the other hand, there is less traffic in the area at the weekend so you probably won’t encounter queues along the way as you would at many of the bigger malls.
So is it worth the trip? Our first visit was during the week and the mall was fairly quiet, though we’ve heard it has been much busier at the weekends so a fair few people seem to think so. Most of the mall staff are friendly and helpful, which we’re assuming is because the mall just opened up and there are not many customers to keep them as busy as they would be in one of the packed malls. A lot of the stores are still not open, so that cuts down a bit of the variety on offer, but we’re told the entire mall will soon be in full swing.
Unfortunately there is no fine dining yet. The food court has the usual KFC, McDonald’s, Subway and Pizza Hut. More promisingly, there is a branch of Bombay Chowpatty and a few other cuisines such as Baanthai (Thai), Bazerkan (Lebanese), and Canton (Chinese). But anyway, forget about eating. What about the shops?
Inside Splash, which is on the first floor, there is a section where they sell Japanese brands with quirky slogans on the T-shirts. The walkway is unique and looks like it might be modelled on a mini Tokyo shopping street. An in-store sound system plays catchy trance music, which, depending on your mood, is either a nice touch or a form of aural purgatory. Get yourself a shopping trolleys because Splash is stocked with some killer deals at the moment.
Location: ground and first floor. Ground floor, main entrance, Right or first floor, left from escalator. Tel 04-5154333 or 04-5154335.
The other big attraction is E-Max, an electronics shop which claims to be the largest store of its kind in the UAE. This means it’s vast and you’ll find a wide spectrum of products, ranging from audio video, appliances, mobile phones, photography, gaming, IT, CD/DVD, lighting, fitness equipments, toys… we could go on. But what we really like is the PlayStation 3 game Rock Band, which is set up in store. Provided you’re a public exhibitionist, you have the chance to play the drums and guitar and you’ll attract a small audience.
Location: Right of the escalator on the second floor. Third floor near the food court and Rage.
Skater kids, surf chicks and extreme sports fans will already know about Rage. This branch seems to specialise in bicycles and bike accessories. It’s a relatively small store but what really sets it apart is the soundtrack: Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were on rotation during our visit, which made our afternoon.
Location: Third floor near the food court and E-max.
A shop we haven’t seen before is Aeropostale, a store that specialises in teenage clothing. It’s an international brand and this is its first foray into the Dubai market. The prices seem reasonable though whether too-cool-for-school teenagers will buy ‘teenage clothing’ is anybody’s guess.
Location: First floor, right of escalator.
The Home Centre
This was a big draw for the mall’s previous incarnation and it’ll be hoping for the same success with this new and bigger, version. While it doesn’t have quite the variety of Ikea, at least you know your furniture won’t be the same as every other house in Dubai – and the firm assembles it for you, which is a big bonus.
Q Home Décor
Located opposite Home Centre, you’ll find some more higher-end pieces – with bigger price tags to match. It’s good if you need decorative works to finish a room.
Location: Second floor, left of escalator.
Opening shortly, we’re looking forward to seeing what a smaller version of Carrefour will offer. Hopefully it will be the same budget prices without the hassle of walking round such a big store – as anyone who has tried to walk round its City Centre and MOE branches will know.