‘Hurrah! It’s got a Boots!’ might be the first reaction from pharmacy fans upon entering the newly opened Arabian Center in Mirdif. But are there enough other attractions here to make it stand out from the multitude of other malls in the city?
Size wise, this is a mall you won’t get lost in – but it’s still big enough to house a multitude of useful stores from The Foot Locker to H&M. And, with a newly opened Topshop (albeit a tad on the small side), it makes the perfect dash-destination for last-minute buys. Taking a walk around in the day, as we did, it’s still fairly peaceful, save for the ever-latte-ing Starbucks (has anyone ever seen an empty one?). This means that you can wander at leisure, undisturbed by hordes of other shoppers. Some will miss the buzz of busier venues, but we actually prefer to run our errands undisturbed.
But, in the interests of research, we decided to stick around longer to see what happens in the evening. The place does start to come alive after dark, bustling with families – all of which seem to centre around the first-floor food court. You won’t find any Michelin star contenders here, but if you are looking for a healthy fix, there are a couple of options on offer. Jungle Juice is a great find for anyone who is lactose intolerant as it stocks soy milk, while the banana, strawberry and kiwi shake is a great distraction if you’re trying your best to avoid the Baskin-Robbins next door.
If you are determined not to shop for frivolous items (parsimony is so on-trend this season), fear not, for you can have just as much fun in the wonder that is WorldMart. Take a once in a lifetime trip down the biscuit aisle to find hidden treasure in the form of Chocolate Hobnobs, Tunnock’s Caramel wafers and even the classic Penguin. Yep, if you are looking for things you can’t find anywhere else – like pickled onion flavoured Monster Munch crisps (gather round pregnant ladies) – then this is your one-stop destination shop.
Although the Arabian Center is still a work in progress, it somehow manages to not feel that way. There are still plenty shops yet to open, but so far so good. And, despite the shops being bite-sized versions of what the larger malls have to offer, the careful selection of stock doesn’t leave you wishing for more – plus you get to shop in peace.
The Arabian Center is located just off the Al Khawaneej Road, Mirdif. Open Sun-Wed, 9am-10:30pm, Thu-Sat, 9am to midnight. Food Court timings, 9am-midnight. See www.arabiancenter.ae or call 04 284 5555
Five WorldMart items we’re in love with
• Dairylea. Not the squares, mind, but tubs full of the stuff
• Walkers salt and vinegar French Fries (and they do Worcester sauce flavour too!)
• Jam tarts. Enough said – just get thee to the biscuit isle
• Ripe avocados that don’t cost the earth
• A great selection of classic DVDs
The Fish Supper: So amazing we went there three times in two days! Currently doing a Dhs29 special for lightly battered John Dory and homemade chunky chips, this is the real deal. It’s run by a lovely English lady who understands the importance of attention to detail – as shown by the jars of pickled gherkins and onions.
A further bonus is the selection of homemade pies. Choose from lamb and rosemary, peppered steak, chicken and mushroom or steak and kidney. For Dhs200 you can take away eight of these beauties and pop them in your freezer at home. Seriously, the only problem we can envisage with this place is that we live far too close to it.
The Footlocker: This sports shop has some great regalia for feet in the form of old-school trainers (anyone remember Reebok classics?) and bang on-trend Converse (the ones with thin soles) in all manner of colours – we particularly like the cobalt blue. Pop in for a purchase or just to reminisce over fashion faux pas of the past that have come full circle again.
Daiso Japan: The weirdest shop in the mall by far – in a good way. It’s a fabulous jumble of things you don’t need but have to buy, all mostly for Dhs7. This includes painted trinkets, brightly coloured nail varnish and old-fashioned wooden toys. Shop here also for beautiful wrapping paper and fancy dress items – they also do a mean line in wigs.
Minutes: The legendary shoe-repairers have set up camp here too. This is a smaller branch than their one in Deira City Centre, but just as skilled in reviving even the most faithful of shoes. They are trustworthy, cheap (like it says on the tin) and quick. Drop your shoes off before you shop and, hey presto, they should be done by the time you’ve gone round the mall.