Shopping malls in the UAE are destinations in themselves: large, well-designed venues with excellent restaurants, cafés and a wide range of entertainment facilities. Some of the biggest malls in the region are located here. Mall of the Emirates on Sheikh Zayed Road retains its popularity as one of the most user-friendly malls and is home to the UAE's only indoor ski slope. Dubai Festival City by the Creek is in a delightful waterfront setting. Ibn Battuta Mall is a huge themed mall centered on the travels of the renowned fourteenth-century Arab explorer. The huge Dubai Mall, by the mesmeric Burj Khalifa, houses every conceivable outlet under the sun, as well as an enthralling aquarium and a giant ice rink. The eclectic Souk Al Bahar is next door in the heart of ‘Downtown Dubai'. Souk Madinat Jumeirah near the Burj al-Arab is a reconstruction of a traditional Arabian bazaar but with a modern twist. On the other side of town, the newish Mirdif City Centre has good leisure and entertainment facilities and you can find just about anything at a bargain price in DragonMart on the road to Hatta.
Other longer-established malls continue to improve their range of outlets, Emirates Boulevard next to the elegant Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Burjuman, City Centre, Lamcy Plaza, Wafi City , Al Mamzar Shopping Centre and Mercato Mall, are just a few worth visiting. The Gold and Diamond Park, although technically not a mall, is also a destination on every shoppers’ list.
For years, shopping in Abu Dhabi was overshadowed by Dubai. However, the capital is rapidly catching up with its sister emirate and retail space in Abu Dhabi is expected to double to almost 1.8 million square metres by 2015. The delightful Marina Mall on the breakwater has over 400 high-end outlets, whilst centrally located Abu Dhabi Mall retains its popularity with shoppers and has a busy bowling alley. Khalidiyah Mall on King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz St, Foutouh Al Khair Centre (also known as Marks and Spencers' Mall) near Qasr al Hosn, and Mushrif Mall on Airport Road are old favourites. Al Wahda Mall on Hazza bin Zayed St has built up a large following and Madinat Zayed Gold Centre specialises in gold and other jewellery.
The Souk, a beautifully redesigned traditional market with delightful courtyard cafés and the The Emporium are both in the impressive rebuilt Central Market. The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri also features a range of shops in a contemporary adaptation of a typical Arabian souk. The Avenue at Etihad Towers is dedicated to high fashion and luxury is also in evidence at The Galleria in the new commercial centre in Sowwah Square, Al Maryah Island. New ventures will include Yas Mall, which is set to open at the end of 2014.
Abu Dhabi's suburbs are also well-served by shopping malls: Dalma Mall and Capital Mall cater to Mohammed bin Zayed City, Al Raha Mall services the Al Raha community, whilst Deerfields Town Square is situated further out on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai highway.
The renovated Al Ain Mall, in the heart of the city has a wide ranges of shops, an ice-rink and other entertainment facilities. Other malls in Al Ain include Al Jimi Mall and Al Bawadi Mall.
The Blue Souk (Souk Al Markazi) or Central Market, beside Khaled Lagoon, is a landmark in Sharjah, noteworthy for its Islamic design. Inside, the elegant building houses fashion outlets, jewellery, carpet and antique stores. Sahara Centre, Sharjah Megamall, and Sharjah City Centre also offer the discerning shopper the usual mix of high-end fashion, food and fun.
Ajman City Centre, a cornucopia of shopping and entertainment, is on the coast road from Sharjah to Ra’s al-Khaimah, whilst Safeer Mall is also a popular retail destination.
Manar Mall in the heart of the city is the oldest and one of the most popular shopping malls in the emirate. It has been joined in recent years by Safeer Mall, which also has outlets in Sharjah and Ajman, and Al Hamra Mall. Both are medium-sized stores with a wide range of shops and entertainment.
Fujairah City Centre introduces a diverse mix of new and internationally renowned brands, plus state-of-the-art entertainment and a mix of food and beverage options to the UAE's east coast. The Trade Centre Shopping Mall is a relatively small but useful collection of stores. Dana Plaza Shopping Centre is another small shopping centre, this time with a cinema.