Where are we going this week Time Out?
Sounds fun, why do you have a plastic sword?
Here be dragons!
Do we have to go through this every time you show me somewhere new?
No, really, there are dragons where we’re going.
Okay, there are no dragons, but we are going to Dragon Mart. Go just beyond the residential towers of International City and you’ll find the world’s largest dragon-shaped shopping mall.
Any building shaped like a dragon is going to be a bit peculiar, I suppose.
Actually, if you stride the kilometres-long labyrinth of corridors, you will be oblivious to any similarity to dragons. This place is enormous. Officially it’s the largest trading centre for Chinese products outside of mainland China – and only recently it opened the doors to Dragon Mart 2, an extension almost double the size of the original complex. It’s home to a brand-new Novo Cinemas, 10,000sqm Géant supermarket, a three-star, 2,400-room hotel, a much-needed new food court and an outdoor dining area.
They’ve been busy, then.
Ever industrious. However, the developers behind the bargain shopping haven have yet another four more phases of expansion in the pipeline, which will take the total area to 11 million square feet. It might be worth investing in a motorised scooter to do your shopping on when all four phases are finally realised.
So what sort of thing can I buy?
You’ll be jostling for space with tens of thousands of shoppers, but come prepared and you can leave armed with garden furniture, forklift trucks, tubs of tiles for home mosaics, bowling pins, handbags – there is no theme. Stores are a cornucopia of quirky consumerism where anything goes.
Could you be more specific?
Actually no. The trading floor is best described as a giant Chinese cash and carry warehouse, which doesn’t follow the rules. The only guarantee we will make is that you will find something kitsch and something useful that you would not find anywhere else in the city. That could be reinforced steel shower curtains or it could be a Manga-style clutch handbag.
Al Awir Road, International City, www.dragonmart.ae.
Only at Dragon Mart
The whole mall is a unique experience with genuine eccentricity and charm so explore without prejudice. You can’t come here without eating Chinese food. There are several restaurants, most spilling over with Chinese tourists and expatriates. Visit Sun Tour Chinese Restaurant in the food court for simple, unfussy bowls of noodles and steamed eggs that pour out of the kitchen with haste and taste.