Mall culture in Dubai is big business!  There are new malls opening each year and it seems that each one is bigger, better, more glamorous and exciting than the last.  More than just a shopping experience, the Dubai malls are about enjoying leisure time for all the family.

Malls nowadays feature a whole selection of leisure time facilities – from cinemas to ski slopes – therefore they are a place where one can while away a whole weekend, not just a couple of hours.

In this guide we’ll touch on the highlights of the best shopping malls in Dubai so that if you’re travelling to the emirate for the forthcoming Dubai Shopping Festival or you’re about to relocate to the UAE, you can know exactly all about the treats and exciting experiences in store for you.

From the fascinating architecture of Ibn Battuta Shopping Mall in Jebel Ali to the now world renowned and famous ski slope at Mall of the Emirates in Al Barsha, each of Dubai’s malls have their own distinctive style, flavour, feel and highlights.  Because new malls are in the offing each year – soon to open we have the Dubai Mall opening on the 4th of November (2008) at 2pm, and Mall of Arabia in Jeddah just down the coast from Dubai that’s scheduled to open in 2009 for example – residents in the emirate are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding where to go at the weekend.

Each mall also offers a different shopping experience, for example at Wafi City you have the upper end designer boutiques, whereas at Deira City Centre you have the likes of the Body Shop, Early Learning Centre, Top Shop and Debenhams, making it a popular favourite with families and youngsters too.  So let’s explore the main malls and what they each offer for you…

Deira City Centre

One of the oldest and actually the best malls for pure retail therapy, Deira City Centre is a very popular centre meaning that in the evenings and weekends, parking is scarce!  The main high street brands are all represented in the shopping centre with the likes of Gap, River Island, New Look and Zara providing affordable fashion for all the family.  There are two food courts, three Starbucks, a children’s entertainment centre and also an 11 screen cinema.  This is a good mall to visit for a day’s entertainment.

Bur Juman

This mall offers a slightly more sophisticated blend of high street and high fashion with the likes of Cartier, Dior, Chanel and Moschino making this a darling of the rich – whilst Zara, Morgan and the Virgin Megastore also make it accessible for the rest of us too!  The foodcourts and restaurant and café offerings on site are plentiful and allow for entertaining people watching experiences!  This mall is about serious shopping rather than relaxed leisure time though!

Dubai Festival City

A city within a city, Festival City combines 600 retail outlets with a gold marketplace, incredible water features, hotels, the largest IKEA in the UAE, a Marks and Spencer, a cinema complex, bowing alley and licensed bars.

Ibn Battuta

The aforementioned, incredible Ibn Battuta Mall is not only massive, it’s incredibly impressive architecturally speaking.  The mall is divided into differently themed zones, each one designed architecturally speaking on a different nation – from Egypt to India, Persia to China.  And each one is also themed in terms of what you’ll find therein.  India Court is for fashionistas for example, and China Court is for entertainment in the form of cinemas and restaurants.  The range of shops on site is amazing – you have everything from an Apple Centre to Boots, from H&M to Lacoste and from Lego to Next!

Mall of the Emirates

And finally – although certainly not the last in terms of the malls available in Dubai!!! – we have Mall of the Emirates.  This is the really big boss of all the other malls and yes, it really does have an indoor ski slope as well as a community theatre, a cinema where you can have waiter service to your seat, a bowling alley, fairground rides for the kids and of course many, many retail outlets.  There’s no way you’ll make it round in one day, but that’s fine because there is just so much to do and see and enjoy, that you’ll want to keep coming back for more.