Not A Mall, But An Amusement Park: Dubai

The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world. But it is so much more than just a mall. Home to a world-class movie theatre, a zoo, a Harry Potter store, a seemingly endless bookstore, ice rink, immense water fountain, and a Willy-Wonka themed candy shop, the Dubai Mall seems more like an amusement park than a mundane mall. Did I mention it houses the largest suspended aquarium in the world as well?

Not only because is the free, high-speed WiFi, I’ve spent hours on end here. The designer district of the mall will have you feeling like you’re having breakfast at Tiffany’s every day. Literally, any major designer brand has a place here. Door, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Hermés…you name it. Sometimes I like to waltz into the store and pretend like I’m seriously considering buying a $2,000 purse, just for the hell of it.

As far as food goes, you can eat from any corner of the globe here. I’ve had hummus in a Lebanese resto, a greasy American burger, and a perfectly cooked French quiche. Anything you’re in the mood for, they’ve got it here.

Changing the subject to coffee, everyone needs to stop by Walter’s Coffee Roastery. This coffee shop on the bottom floor is set up like a super scientist’s laboratory. The staff is constantly conducting what looks like coffee flavored experiments, the room is often filled with smoke from dry ice, and a room in the center of the store has gadgets and gizmos of all your wildest, coffee-related dreams. I’ve even seen baristas dress up in yellow hazmat suits, sporting thick goggles, and the occasional helmet. This place is all about the experience and they definitely have a “go big or go home” attitude.

As for my favorite part of the museum, it’s no contest. The aquarium is the piece de resistance in the utopia that is the Dubai Mall. As a massive shark nerd, I’m talking massive, I could stare at the Black Tip Reef Sharks and the Lemon Sharks for hours. These sharks were surprisingly large for an aquarium, and I didn’t feel bad for them as the tank is gigantic.

It’s intriguing to see the rest of the fish floating by, going about their daily fish lives, while the chaotic crowd of frantic shoppers and crying children surround them. Every so often, you see a scuba diver in the tank, waving at you. It’s curious to see them looking out at the audience as if they too were a fish.

Just steps outside of the mall, you’re greeted by a beautiful fountain and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Standing at 830 meters tall, it’s humbling to stand at the base and realize your insignificance in comparison to the structure.

Stick around till sunset to watch the most elaborate, choreographed fountain show in the world. Then, as the darkness sets around you, pierced by the neon lights of the city, you will hear the rapid beat of the Arabian music as the jets of water dance and shoot high into the sky. Sometimes they do theme shows, with music such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

You could also catch a weekly performance after the fountain festivities. This week, it was a neon drummer group that yelled and danced in a circle. Quite entertaining.

Whatever your fix is, adventure, designer handbags, cotton candy, or Sharks, this is where you go to find it in Dubai. It should be one of the first places you go to after you check into your hotel or Airbnb. You could really lose yourself in here.

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