There's something about the very sound of Dubai Shopping Festival that gives a girl the good kind of goosebumps. The idea of getting crazy discounts in a land where it's malls as far as your rose-tinted glasses can see is about as exciting as it gets—and when I set out to go get a taste of the high life and stock up on some serious style, I had no idea exactly how grand and large-scale DSF was really going to be.
I had two days in Dubai, so I had to be quick—that meant squeezing as many of Dubai's mammoth, luxury-drenched malls and shopping complexes into each day as I could. On the first day, I took on BurJuman Mall in the Bur Dubai section of town, and Ibn Battuta Mall on Sheikh Zayed Road.
Burjuman is perfect for the luxury brand-oholic. If it's delicious luxe bags, accessories or even chocolates you're hankering after, this is the place to hit. I went a little wild at Saks Fifth Avenue, spritzing on about a dozen fresh, floral scents between Chanel, Gucci and Calvin Klein till I finally chose a big flacon of Sheer Beauty (so pretty!).
What was fabulous, though, was that everything was so flagrantly discounted that you'd end up getting signature luxury and designer stuff for a fraction of its original price—case in point, a series of DKNY quilted clutches that had been slashed down from about 800 AED to 120 AED (approx Rs. 15,000 down to approx Rs. 2,200). I was surrounded by Prada, Givenchy, Hermes, Balmain—you name it. There were not enough suitcases in the world…
Ibn Battuta Mall was an interesting experience—it was quite unlike the traditional mall structure. The whole place had been divided into courts, based on countries, with a tonne of artifacts and décor according to each other country—The India court, for instance, had a giant elephant with turbaned men sitting in a palki and playing the flute.
This mall had a lot more high-street though, a lot of fun, cute brands you don't necessarily chance upon regularly (Rubi shoes, Makeup Forever and the like), plus enormous H&Ms and Zaras to boot. I ate dinner at this little outdoor café called Xenia, and can I just say when there's meat in the smoothest, most fragrant hummus in the world, you have nothing left to want for. Definitely worth resting your shopping feet at—if the weather's good.
The next day, I took on The Dubai Mall and Paris Gallery on Doha Street and Global Village on Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Road.
What you've heard about The Dubai Mall is true—it is, indeed, larger than life. You'll find everything and its uncle at this mammoth mall—whether you're after luxury brands like Vuitton and Hermes, designers like De La Renta or Elie Saab or high-street like Forever 21 or Top Shop, they have everything. Everything. It's crazy easy to get lost here, so if you're not alone, work on a buddy system. If you have more time for the place than I did, give it two days so you can browse and scour it at your own pace.
Lastly, the only non-mall shopping excursion I made—Global Village. By far my favourite of the lot, Global Village was less 'shopper's central' and more a cultural mezze platter, with bite-size niblet recreations of myriad countries across the world. At The Turkey Pavillion there were Turkish sweets, beautiful lanterns and lamps, and spices galore. The Pakistan Pavillion, there was soft fur as far as the eye could see. The Lebanese Pavillion has lots of great sweets and artifacts—and a little shack with the most delectable Manoush (a wrap filled with soft cheese and meats that'll melt in your mouth) and felafel.
If you time it right (which I did), you'll catch one of the stunning performances happening in the main area—I caught a jet ski race! If you push through the thronging crowd (which I didn't manage to), you'll get a better view than I did. A good place to troop about with a bunch of friends—with enough leeway for you to pan out and get different stuff. Make sure not to get lost though—this place is Disneyland-esque in scale, and the amount of people in there at any given time.
All in all, DSF is going to cater to every discount-digger and tag-hag there is—I know I came away super-satisfied, and carrying my weight in excess baggage!