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Which Dubai mall is the best?

by Danni B

Dubai is home to the world’s largest mall and is a popular shopping destination for many in the region, with people even flying in from as far as Asia to shop in Dubai during the holiday season. Inside you’ll find not just shops but large entertainment complexes, restaurants, food courts and even hotels! It might be difficult to choose which Dubai mall to go to or where to even start? Not to worry! We’ll summarise all the best malls in Dubai and give you all the details you need so you can decide which one to visit. We’ve also added some insider tips from Dubai residents for the best Dubai shopping experience!

The best thing about the malls in Dubai is that they’re fully air-conditioned! So they’re a perfect place for activities during the summer months. You can spend hours just walking around to escape the soaring hot temperatures outside!

We know with the current situation due to Covid 19, currently, we’re experiencing very different times! So we’ve updated the article and answered a few questions to help with your visit to the best malls in Dubai.

Are Dubai malls open?

Yes! Dubai’s malls are open. The Malls reopened in late April. Though they may be operating at different times than usual.

The curfew has now been lifted. Most are open from 10 am till 10 pm in the week and till Midnight on weekends.

What are the restrictions?

-No children under 12 are allowed in the malls and no one over the age of 60
– You must wear a mask and gloves.
– You’re not allowed to stay in the mall for more than three hours.
– Social distancing of 2 meters must be practiced also.
– Valets are closed and there are separate entry and exit points. Sales are not allowed to prevent overcrowding. —– Shops and only allowed to permit a certain number of people.

Many places are using thermal scanner before you enter and Dubai recently launched a Dubai Assured stamp for businesses which you can find out more out it here.

So now for the article, Dubai which mall should I go to?

Dubai Mall

Located in Downtown Dubai, this is Dubai’s most iconic mall. In fact, the Dubai mall is in the Guinness book of world records for the largest mall in the world. On top of this, it was extended in recent years to make it even bigger. The newer part is called Fashion Avenue, featuring mostly high-end designer shops. It is also one of the most famous malls in the world. Close to the spectacular Dubai fountains and another world record holder, the Burj Khalifa. Dubai mall has pretty much every single shop available you could possibly want! In addition, it’s a tourist attraction all by itself. So if you’re looking to do many tourist attractions in one. This is the best mall for you and all your Dubai shopping!

What about shopping? Every section is dedicated to certain categories but you’ll definitely need to make a plan before you visit! As it can be quite far from where you park to different areas of the mall. The best part is that each category is grouped together. So if it’s mostly clothes you’re looking for, you’ll find them all in one particular section of the mall. If you’re planning to try and visit every shop, it will actually take you a couple of days. Maybe even three. Yes, the mall is THAT huge!

In terms of finding your way around, there are useful touchable screens dotted at various places which load an electronic map. They also have customer service desks with paper maps if you get a bit lost. To access the wifi, you have to download the Dubai mall app but the app also has an added navigation guide to help you find individual shops, so it’s one I recommend to download anyways! Even people who have lived in Dubai for years still get lost in Dubai mall!

There are many of the main Dubai tourist attractions within walking distance from Dubai Mall. Including the falling man fountain, the world’s largest aquarium, the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai fountains. If you have kids, there’s even a VR theme park with a roller coaster inside. So there is more than enough to keep yourself and your family entertained! If you get tired from all the walking or perhaps you just end up at the opposite end to your car, you can even catch an indoor electric taxi (think of long golf buggies) to take you around the mall.

For more information, here is the Dubai Mall website

For more info on Dubai Mall check out:
The Ultimate Dubai Mall Guide (Coming soon)

Resident tip – The parking is huge, so make sure to make a note of where you parked your car! There are paper token dispensers to help. The parking does get very congested on evenings and weekends. So as an alternative, you can take a tip from the locals and park in Souq Al Bahar to avoid the traffic. You can then easily walk to Dubai mall by following signs for the Dubai fountains. Cross the bridge and you’re at Dubai Mall. Parking is free in both malls except premium valet parking.

Nearest metro is Dubai Mall, connected by an air-conditioned tunnel. Be prepared! The walk from the metro is around 10 to 15-minutes before you reach the mall. (And sadly no, there isn’t an electric indoor taxi!)

Mall of Emirates

For residents, this a very popular mall due to it central location and size. It is not as large as Dubai Mall and much easier to navigate, especially if you just want to quickly visit for a certain item or specific shop. It offers the most balanced shopping experience out of all of Dubai’s malls. There’s a good mix of affordable shops such as River Island, Zara and H&M but also a good selection of higher-end designer shops. Such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Hublot & more. There’s also the luxurious British department store Harvey Nichols. This is their only location in the entire UAE.

So what about entertainment? It is home to the famous indoor ski resort in the middle of the desert, Ski Dubai. Containing one of the world’s largest indoor artificial ski slopes. You can even have a hot chocolate with toasted marshmallows in your snow gear on the slopes. Overall this is a great all-round mall with a cinema, a good selection of restaurants, cafes, two food courts and two well known connected hotels.

The Mall of Emirates website for more information

Resident tip – Most malls in Dubai, get pretty busy on evenings and weekends so going in the morning can be a great way to avoid the crowds. Aim to leave by 3pm as typically places start to get busier at this time.

Parking is free on weekends, whereas in the week you get the first four hours for free excluding valet. You can get more hours of free parking if you visit the cinema but the ticket needs to be validated by the cinema. The mall is also connected via an air-conditioned tunnel to the metro stop “Mall of Emirates.”

Dubai Marina Mall

One of the smaller malls in Dubai. This beautiful mall is set overlooking Dubai Marina and is great for those staying nearby. Dubai Marina area is a popular location with tourists and residents alike.  Despite the mall being smaller, it has a good selection of shops. There’s fashion, beauty and electronics. There’s even a cinema and connecting five-star hotel “The Address.”

Where it really shines is as a place for food and entertainment. You’ll find a mixture of restaurants and bars with beautiful views over the marina. The incredible views are a must for those who are visiting as tourists or for those who have friends or family visiting.

For the full shop directories, how to get their and more information, you can visit their official website here.

Resident tip – The restaurants with the best view are towards the back of the mall looking out onto the marina. There’s a circular building with several floors called Pier 7 connected via a bridge. Inside is several restaurants and bars. This spot in Dubai is ideal both day and night time due to the views but is especially romantic at sunset or night time.

Parking is free all the time except valet like the other malls.

This mall is also accessible by Dubai Tram (named Dubai Marina Mall) there isn’t a direct tunnel but the stop is pretty close by to the mall so is walking distance.

Ibn Battuta

Possibly one of the most overlooked malls but actually one of the most interesting! This Dubai mall has different themes based on the different countries which the famous explorer Ibn Battuta visited. Hence the name! Ranging from India to Egypt making up the themed sections. Ideal for some unique photo opportunities as you wander around. There’s even a huge ship in the Chinese Court area by the Cinema. The best part is that this cinema tends to be one of the quieters ones in Dubai. So is great for avoiding the crowds! This is mostly due to the location. It’s at the bottom end of Dubai, close to Jebel Ali. Despite this, parking can be tricky for this mall as there isn’t a large multi-storey car park like the others in Dubai.

While it is smaller than Mall of Emirates or Dubai Mall, it’s layout is quite long. So if you’re going from one end to the other, it can be quite a distance! The cinema is at one end and Carrefour is at the other. Like Dubai Maill, if you do get tired, there’s an electric taxi car inside to take you back! This costs 10 aed per person (price correct as of July 2019.) There’s also an electric train for the kids going through the mall!

You can check out their official website here.

Resident tip – This is the best mall for bargain shopping, as often the shops have sales and the mall is made up of mostly affordable brands.

Parking like Dubai Mall is free except for the premium valet service. The mall is connected via a tunnel to the bus stops and “Ibn Battuta” metro is a small walking distance away.

Festival City Mall

If you’re not keen on crowds, this is the perfect mall! Located slightly further out from the centre, it’s one which tends to be popular with residents living on the other side of Dubai. There are lots of entertainment options for the kids but without the crowds of Dubai Mall. Similar to Dubai fountains it has it’s own water, light and music display called a laser show. Playing at intervals throughout the evening. It’s a great all-round mall with a good mix of shops, restaurants, department stores, connecting hotels and once again a cinema. There’s also a famous Emirati restaurant and cafe inside (check out our Emirati dishes you must try article here) which is a must to visit!

In addition, if you’ve just moved to Dubai. There’s a large Ikea and Ace Hardware close to the mall. You’ll need to drive between the two, it’s not walkable from the mall.

Festival City Mall official website

Resident tip – Get free valet parking by parking in one of the connecting hotels, simply do you shopping and get some lunch or a coffee after in order to validate your parking ticket.

Parking is free and there’s a large car park underneath the mall.

I haven’t tried the journey myself but it says it’s possible to get the metro to Creek stop and then take a water taxi across to Festival City Mall if you’ve wanting to visit using public transport.

The Outlet Village

There is a separate Dubai Outlet Mall on the other side of Dubai, so make sure you don’t just enter “Outlet Mall in your Google Maps!” The Outlet Village has a wide collection of luxury shops with discounted prices and even has an outlet Sephora. There are a few other shops, including Nike and Adidas, but it’s mostly high-end fashion. My favourite being the department store Galleries Lafeyette here. The glass skylights, brickwork and paved walkways make it seem like you’re walking along the streets of a European city. It’s a nice retreat during the summer where you can feel as if you’re outside with natural sunlight but without having to sacrifice air-conditioning. It is a bit of a far drive as it’s located by Dubai’s Parks and Resorts, as if you’re driving to Abu Dhabi, but it definitely makes a nice day out!

Resident tip – Stop by Last Exit for an interesting food experience on the way back (see the huge bowling alley style arrow says Last Exit) or just to grab a nice coffee from Saddle for the journey (see my previous article about the best coffee places in Dubai).

Parking is free and there isn’t a metro or local bus to here. However, they do run Outlet Village buses from different hotels in Dubai. See the timetable here.

Mirdif City Centre

In terms of the selection of different shops, this mall is very similar to Ibn Battuta without an explorer theme. Shops include fashion, sports, home and a large supermarket. It also includes restaurants and a cinema. If you’re living close to Mirdif, it’s a good mall for buying the essentials. If you’re a tourist, there aren’t any particularly unique shops or features which would make it worth driving the distance to visit unless you really want to do indoor sky diving. In which case, this is the home of iFly! There are no main tourist attractions nearby to Mirdif. It is more purely for those living in the area. The mall is relaxed and modern, so as a resident its great for avoiding the crowds of the bigger malls.

For more information, visit their website here.

Resident Tip – If you’re heading to Ras al Khaimah or Sharjah, this mall is easy to access along the way. There’s a connecting slip road from the main road which takes you straight to the mall, it’s also easy to jump back onto the road from the parking.

Parking is also free like the other malls.

So there you have it! Dubai’s best malls and most famous. There are a few smaller malls dotted throughout Dubai but these are the main malls that cover’s the majority of the best and larger malls in Dubai. Dubai is in fact building even more malls, so I’ll probably have to update this list soon! As if Dubai doesn’t have enough malls! It wasn’t possible to cover every single mall. As there are many smaller malls in all different parts of the city with similar shops.

The large malls are possible to spend an entire day just wandering around, grabbing bites to eat and having an enjoyable day out with the family. Due to the hot weather, malls have become the perfect hiding spots for residents to enjoy their time in the air conditioning. They are also popular places for everyone to meet up during the evening. We hope you enjoyed this quick guide to the best Dubai malls and don’t forget to leave a comment about which mall is your favourite and why!

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1 comment

Elizabeth September 20, 2020 - 7:26 am

These malls all sound spectacular. I would love to check them out one day. Ibn Battauta sounds fun! I have always had a thing for themes, lol!

The restrictions now are interesting. I wonder if they check people’s IDs when they enter. My mom who loves to shop would not be pleased with the age limit! Also I am curious if they actually have some way they are monitoring how long someone stays. These malls seem huge so I don’t know how they would do that.


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