It can take some adjustment getting used to mall life in the UAE (especially if you are better used to donning your wellies and spending your weekends exploring the countryside back home) – but here is how (and why) we British mums can embrace visits to the mall…
Pick your time
Seasoned mums know that visiting the mall at peak times is akin to jumping in the car and hitting the M25 at rush hour just for fun (oh, the horror) – so pick your time carefully. Weekday mornings are always the quietest, with cafes and supermarkets opening as early as 8am and shops following at 10am. Be there as the stores open and you’ll have the aisles, stores and car parking spaces to yourself (or pretty much). If you have to visit at the weekend, however, just make sure you get there early. Friday mornings are traditionally dedicated to prayers and family for a lot of Dubai residents, meaning that things are pretty quiet until lunchtime.
Remember your parking spot
Forget where you parked the car? Of course you won’t! Until you visit Dubai Mall at a busy time, struggle to find a spot, pull into the first one you find, and then have no idea where you left it a few hours later, that is. In fact, losing your car in a mall in Dubai is pretty much a right of passage for residents of this city – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our top tip? Snap a quick photo with your phone of the lane number you have parked in (usually hung above your spot) – and then take another photo of the shops either side of the entrance when you walk into the mall. It takes seconds – and it will save the embarrassed, sweaty panic of being carless hours later.
Entertain the kids
For a lot of Mums, the thought of dragging the kids around a mall to run errands sounds as much fun as pulling teeth out – but malls in Dubai know the score and have provided us with a plethora of entertainment options to make the whole excursion bearable (and dare we say it, even enjoyable at times). From bumping into pre-historic dinosaurs in The Dubai Mall, to watching penguins march through the snow in Mall of the Emirates, to dropping them off for a free play session in IKEA at Festival City, to taking tots for train rides around Dubai Marina Mall, it just takes a bit of research to turn that trip into the perfect excursion for the whole family. Mall websites in Dubai are pretty good, so log on and plan your visit before you jump in the car.
Head to the outlet
If you’ve got your eyes on a new purchase, but don’t want to blow the weekly budget by making the splurge, why not head to an outlet mall instead? We have two options here in Dubai; the original Dubai Outlet Mall on the Dubai Al-Ain Road, and the new The Outlet Village, located next to the new Dubai Parks and Resorts near to Jebel Ali. Both offer some brilliant savings on both high street and designer brands.
Snap up the bargains
Finally, learning when to snap up those bargains in the mall is the ultimate kung-foo move of shopping in Dubai Malls. After all, why would you pay full price for that handbag, set of bunk beds, or birthday present you’ve been coveting, when you can wait a couple of days or weeks and get it for half the price? The two major shopping festivals in Dubai are DSF (Dubai Shopping Festival), which takes place 26th December 2016 to 28th January 2017 – and DSS (Dubai Summer Surprises), which will take place in July and August 2017 (dates to be confirmed). Just like shops back home, you’ll also get sales at the end of each season – so asking sales assistants when you can next expect discounts to crop up can end up saving you hundreds (or even thousands) of
Not for the faint of heart is the absolutely humongous Dragonmart, which spans the equivalent length of Lands End to John O’Groat’s. Full of bargains imported from China, there are hidden gems in every corner from clothing to party goods, electronics to furniture. We guarantee you’ll end up leaving six hours later with at least two crates worth of things you never even knew you needed.