Dubai's best alternative shopping malls

Done Dubai’s behemoth shopping spots? We unearth a few malls away from the mainstream

Two things are guaranteed in Dubai over summer. The temperatures will soar, and there will be some bargains to be had. Luckily for us, the city has some of the most elaborate malls in the world to take shelter in. But if you feel like a change from the mega malls, there are plenty off the beaten track to browse. If you don’t know about them already, here’s a look at alternative malls to seek out throughout the summer – you never know, you may just find your next regular shopping spot.

Al Barsha Mall in (surprise!) Al Barsha

Al Barsha might be most famous for Mall of the Emirates and its countless shops, restaurants and even ski slope. However, if you haven’t visited this lesser-known mall, you’re missing out. You can’t expect the same scale of shops, but what you willl find is an array of offering some brilliant value, a fantastic spot for kids to run around and Gold’s Gym to ramp up your fitness. It’s family friendly and fun, so you can let the little ones release their pent up energy at Cheeky Monkeys and Kiddieville play areas. While they run wild, head over to Daiso to get all you need (because everyone needs a banana slicer, right?). There’s even a V Perfumes store where you can pick up designer scents for a far better rate than at some of Dubai’s bigger stores. For a relatively small mall, Al Barsha has a lot going for it. Go and see for yourself.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu 10am-midnight; Fri 2pm-midnight. Behind Barsha Pond Park (04 455 7150).

Al Ghurair Centre in Deira

You might think the oldest mall in Dubai would start to show its age just a little bit, but at more than 30 years of operation, Al Ghurair Centre shows no signs of decline. The mall saw a major refurbishment in 2014, so a lot of it is still fairly new. From Jashanmal to Carrefour and Matalan, the mall offers shopping essentials and bargains. And for Brits there’s a good old Marks & Spencer to satisfy any pangs for Blighty. There’s a wide range of restaurants on offer, too, from famed American diner Denny’s to Japanese street food eatery Atisuto. Adding on to the delightful interior and high-tech water fountain propelling water two storeys high are a host of conventions that take place at the mall every year, including Street Con. The art installation shows pieces from local and international artists, giving Al Ghurair Centre a certain je ne sais quoi all visitors will cherish.
Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Al Riqqa Road, Deira (04 222 5222).

City Centre Me’aisem In Sports City
When a mall begins to feel like a maze that you’re desperately trying to get out of, with its multi-layered floors and seemingly endless corridors, it can sometimes be nice to just stick to the ground floor and know where the exits are. You’re in luck at City Centre Me’aisem, as it delivers just that. It houses a huge Carrefour (one to avoid at peak times, perhaps) for all your shopping needs as well as cafés and restaurants including GRK Fresh Greek and Chili’s. There’s also a Magic Planet for kids to enjoy some fun arcade games. Stores include Typo, which delivers a geektastic array of pens, folders and décor. And some quirky art and glitter on these essential stationery means school and the office will be made that much more fun. As for food, try out 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza’s huge selection, which will have your cheesy slice done in 90 seconds, or try some tasty shawarma at Leila. If you’re passing by Dubai Sports City, pop your head in to City Centre Me’aisem. Warning: you may stay longer than expected.
Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Dubai Sports City (04 437 4999).

Dragon Mart 2 In International City

Not to be confused with Dragon Mart, which is the largest trading centre for Chinese products outside of mainland China, Dragon Mart 2 is a great mall. In essence an extension almost double the size of the original complex, it’s home to a brand-new Novo Cinema, a 10,000 sq m Geant supermarket, a three-star 2,400-room hotel, a much-needed food court and an outdoor dining area. All that, and more than 1,000 shops and kiosks. You can imagine just how busy it gets, so be prepared for a sea of people, especially to Dragon Drive, a tree-lined boulevard with water features and a number of al fresco cafés and restaurants. However, also expect to come out the other side with a lot of products ranging from handbags to garden furniture, by way of some new home furnishings and even flowers. Despite its name and how much we wanted it to, it doesn’t actually sell dragons.
Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Dragon Mart, International City (04 390 9999).

Dubai Outlet Mall in Dubailand

Looking for a bargain? It may be a little out of the way, but the brilliant bargains makes Dubai Outlet Mall definitely worthy of the trip. Here, sales run year-round at more than 1,200 international brands across 240 stores. Discounts range from 30 to 90 percent off. That’s right, 90 percent. Our bargain-hunter senses are tingling. There are plenty of top deals to be found, from designer labels such as Diane von Furstenberg, Burberry and Marc Jacobs, along with a variety of electronics and perfumes. As for food and family entertainment, a Chuck E. Cheese has plenty of games. If you’re after designer clothes at a lesser price tag, this mall is calling your name.
Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Dubailand, Dubai Al-Ain Road (04 423 4666).

Reef Mall in Deira
If you’re not looking to dish out too much dough and fancy yourself a budget shopper, Reef Mall in Deira should be your next stop. Housing popular affordable outlets such as Brands4U, Splash, Babyshop, Shoe Mart, Lifestyle, Giordano, Hang Ten and another 90 stores to keep you shopping the day away, don’t expect to be spending too much – unless you’re buying in bulk. This sizeable mall is perfect for the family outings, with plenty of restaurants to put a smile on your face and appease your appetite. It also features Fiesta Pinoy, an authentic Filipino restaurant serving up traditional dishes such as vinegar and soy sauce-stewed chicken adobo, along with local favourite pancit palabok (fully-loaded noodles). A good place for a casual wander around if you’re looking for a deal.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Salahuddin Road, Deira (04 224 2240).

Sahara Centre in Sharjah
This one has masses of shops including Mango, Lacoste, New Look, Tommy Hilfiger and more. There’s also a selection of fancy electronic shops dishing out the latest technology, as well as everything from boutique watches to a wealth of sweet shops, including the chocolate-y goodness of iChocolate. It even has a Novo Cinema for the cinephiles who want to catch the latest releases. The mall has dedicated 70,000 sq ft to Adventureland, too, which boasts plenty of rides, go-karts and an extremely unique rocket cycle roller coaster. Intrigued? Head to Sharjah to check it out for yourself.
Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Al Nahda Street, Sharjah (06 531 3666).

Sunset Mall in Jumeirah
Encased in slick glass, Sunset Mall is a quaint place just off Jumeirah Beach Road housing a range of shops. As the name suggests, it’s also the perfect place to catch Dubai’s stunning sunset from the comfort of the air-conditioned shopping centre. Shops are inventive, such as Rivaage, which sells shoes and accessories, has tree trunks soaring through the entrance space. Other shops include The Closet for authentic designer bags, Big & Tall which offers various different sizes for men and an Aquafit, which gives people the fitness treatment underwater with its spa-biking facilities. If you get peckish and fancy a snack try Pappa Roti – famous for its coffee and caramel buns – or healthy eatery Sesame, which serves up a range of dishes – including the falafel waffle, which made its way onto Time Out Dubai’s 50 Best Dishes of the Year, so far, in 2018.
Open Sun-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10am-midnight. Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 3 (04 330 7333).

The Mall in umm Suqeim
With a simple name depicting exactly what it is, The Mall on Jumeirah Beach Road is an easy spot if you live in the area. The artsy and modern architecture of the complex has a floral-inspired mirrored roof and an all-glass modernist exterior, making it quite the place to step into. For the hungry lot, The Mall houses food and beverage outlets, including retro Lebanese eatery Ayam Elezz (try the mixed grill). The al fresco area is also a great spot to relax in during the cooler months, while the sprogs can be responsibly left in the dedicated kids’ arena. Fashion outlets include Escales and Hayla Couture, and you can get groomed at Zuri Beauty Salon among others.
Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sun 10am-midnight. Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim (04 348 4848).

The Outlet Village in Jebel Ali

Fancy being transported to the fancy shopping streets of Italy, without having to get on a plane? The Outlet Village is the one for you. Unlike any district in Dubai, the mall has been uniquely designed to feel like you’re in San Gimignano, a quaint hilltop town in the countryside of Tuscany. Taking up 1.5 million sq ft of space, it opened its doors in September 2016, and has since become home to 500 brands, including homeware, sportswear and department stores all on the same level and sheltered under a conical glass roof. With it being Italian and all, you can expect a lot of high-end fashion brands, including Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Ted Baker, Valentino and much more. The best part? The mall boasts some of the hottest deals in all of its stores, sometimes going up to 90 percent off a products original price – as seen last summer in many of its shops. It’s only a short 15-minute drive from JBR, so hop in that car and get yourself shopping. Everyone loves a bargain, how can you possibly resist?
Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Jebel Ali, near Dubai Parks And Resorts (04 317 3999).

The Village Mall in Jumeirah 1
The Village Mall and its boutique shops are an ideal place for a spot of shopping if you live in Jumeirah. But among the glitz of high and avant-garde fashion are reasonably priced items, plus there’s a special Peekaboo kids’ area. If you’re after a snack there’s Shakespeare & Co, which is famed for its macaron, while there’s even a SensAsia spa if you’re in the mood for a spot of post-shopping pampering, too.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri 4pm-10pm. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 4444).

Times Square Center on Sheikh Zayed Road
You’ll have undoubtedly seen this while driving up and down Sheikh Zayed Road. Next time you pass, it will be worth making a turn towards it, as it hides pretty unique cafés and stores, along with the perfect way to escape the heat. And if you’re after something really chilly, you’re in luck. Located on the first floor, the Chillout Ice Lounge lets people sip on rich hot chocolate in sub-zero temperatures along with a bite to eat. A frosty experience as the sizzling heat approaches? Count us in. Techies will also be delighted to see one of the largest Sharaf DGs in the region, and is also the destination for fitness fanatics to get some activewear. Head to Adventure HQ to kit yourself out or even do some rock climbing. There are plenty of family-friendly stores such as Eggs & Soldiers and ToysRUs, too, plus a handful of coffee shops including Caribou Coffee, Baskin Robins and The Coffee Club for keeping you fuelled during your trip. In the hotter, summer months, Dubai’s popular organic produce gathering Ripe Market moves indoors for the season, taking up residence from 9am until 3pm every Saturday, so is a top place to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies. Ripe Market also hosts pop-up yoga and a range of craft stalls, so it’s worth a visit on a weekend.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Al Quoz, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 341 8020).

Town Centre Jumeirah in Jumeirah 1
With several malls on the Jumeirah Beach Road strip, there’s a fight for the top spot. So how does this one stand out from the rest? It’s one of the most popular shopping complexes to visit when you need a day of leisure and plenty of dining outlets to choose from. For authentic Emirati cuisine, look no further than Al Fanar Restaurant and Café. Placed on the first floor, it’s become a signature venue for people to eat and socialise at. Shops range from The Party Zone for pretty much everything you need to host an excellent gathering, to Paris Gallery’s skincare, make-up and fashion, along with The World of Pens which sell, as you’d imagine, a whole lot of swanky pens. To truly indulge yourself, especially after a long day of shopping, get signed up to one of the massage centres placed throughout the mall. Seeking a manicure? Nailstation has that covered. As for reflexology, there’s Feet for Men and Women to work out any tension. There’s even a physiotherapy clinic. There aren’t too many malls that deliver relaxation, but now you know one spot that does, so pop it on your list next time you’re looking to shake up your shopping regime.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri 1.30pm-10pm. Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1 (04 344 0111).

And a few we’re eagerly awaiting:

Al Khail Avenue
Due to complete in mid-2018, Al Khail Avenue is described by Nakheel as “a bustling retail and entertainment destination ideally located to serve fast-growing new communities”. The mall will span nearly two million sq ft, more than half of which will be leasable space. For all the UK shoppers that are missing some home soil shopping, a Waitrose supermarket will be based right at its heart for all your essentials. There will be also be 350 stores, a multi-screen Reel Cinema complex with four platinum movie suites, various food and beverage outlets, along with a 256-room hotel connected to the building. Keep an eye open for this one, we can’t wait.
Due to open in 2018. Jumeirah Village Triangle, www.nakheel.com.

Deira Mall at Deira Island
Dubai already has one of the largest malls in the world with The Dubai Mall, but now it’s making room for one that’s even bigger – Deira Mall. By the time it’s finished, this will be the largest shopping mall in the Middle East, with 4.5 million sq ft of gross leasable space. Dubai Mall has 3.77 millionaire sq ft of it. With that much space, how many shops do you think can go into it? More than 1,000 retail shops, restaurants, and a 15,000 sq ft entertainment zone, apparently. It’s even season friendly, as it will have a retractable glass roof that will open up for the cooler winter months and close for a bit more air-conditioning. We’ll have to wait until its expected finished date of 2021 to experience it all though.
Due to open in 2021. Deira Islands. www.nakheel.com.

Cityland Mall at Global Village

From the same team that created the hugely popular tourist attraction Dubai Miracle Garden, Cityland Mall will be the world’s first nature-inspired shopping centre. With 60 percent of the construction already complete, Expect some of the biggest brand names setting up shop, including a Carrefour Hypermarket, which plans suggest will be the largest in Dubai, a Vox cineplex and an indoor Fabyland amusement park for the kids. With 200,000 sq ft of green space. It’s shaping up to be a site people have to visit, all we have to do is patiently wait its official opening later on this year.
Due to open late 2018. Wadi Al Safa 3, beside Global Village, www.citylandmall.com.

Meydan One

Despite the massive influx of high-profile nightlife destinations – hello, Drai’s Dubai and Soho Garden – next door to The Meydan Grandstand, Meydan Avenue is being built, which will feature a 2km glass-fronted retail arcade as well as nearly 2,000 apartments. There’s also set to be a huge mall, billed to be “like none before” at Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City. The 6,697,550 sq ft retail district will house brands from around the world, as well as more than 100 restaurants. Move over Dubai Fountain – the largest dancing water display in the world is set to be here. There’s also going to be a BMX course, skateboarding park and rock climbing wall, as well as the world’s longest indoor ski slope, spanning 1.2km. This and more is all due to open in 2020, so watch this space.
www.meydan.ae.

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