TRAVEL: How to shop 'til you drop in Dubai's malls
IT'S hot outside... a nice, warm 40 degrees or so. And this is the cool season in Dubai.
But never fear. You've arrived at DXB (Dubai's super-cool airport), been whisked through immigration and customs, transported in air-conned comfort to your hotel in a limo. Now you're ready for action... in the amazing malls this city has created for Australia's legions of shopping tragics.
Will wonders never cease? What's so special about Dubai that people go there from all over the world to do their shopping - from jocks 'n' socks to jewellery only a potentate can afford for his wives?
The answer: infinite variety, thousands of retail and culinary opportunities, a truly cosmopolitan vibe and hotels that lay on the service no matter what your budget. There's so much to choose from it can make you dizzy ... with anticipation.
Every conceivable big brand is there, plus others you haven't heard of yet.
While shopping in Dubai is a year-round phenomenon, January is the time to be there, either to spend a few sinful spend-along days or as a stopover on your way to or from Europe.
From December 28 to January 28, the city becomes one giant bazaar for the annual Dubai Shopping Festival.
Decorations, lights and special events transform the town, and retailers - large and small - come to the party with discounts and bonus offers.
Here are a few of the notable malls Dubai is famous for. You could easily spend an entire day in any one of them:
This is the granddaddy of the malls.
In the Burj/downtown area, this is more like a city than a mere place to shop. With more than 1200 stores, it's the world's most- visited shopping and leisure destination.
Highlights are the underwater aquarium and zoo, the ice skating rink and an elevator ride to Level 148 of the Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest building and home to the Armani Hotel.
Mall of the Emirates
Apart from luxury shopping, this mall has become famous for its unique Ski Dubai slope, where you can escape from temperatures sometimes reaching 50 degrees outside to a genuine snowfield adventure. All skiing gear can be rented.
There's also the Magic Planet entertainment centre for the kids while you do you shopping!
Here you'll feel as if you've wandered into an Italian renaissance village.
The brand names are some of the most popular and there's a wonderful selection of cafes, bakeries and epiceries - and a less-crowded environment, at least when we were there.
For a more authentic Middle Eastern flavour, the Wafi Mall combines ancient Egyptian architecture with fashion boutiques and an Arabic shopping experience.
IBN Battuta Mall
Perhaps the most distinctively themed of all the malls, this one is named after the famous 15th century explorer and is divided into six courts with fashions to match.
Andalusia, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India and China are all featured and there are lush outdoor tea gardens when you need a break from visiting all these countries under one roof.
Dubai Airport (DXB) Mall
If you're just passing through or if you haven't been 'malled' to death in the city, remember that Dubai Duty Free is regarded as the world's best airport shop, with all the well-known brands at great prices.