Dubai seems to be all about extremes: Not only do they have the tallest building in the world, they also boast the Dubai Mall: The largest shopping mall in the world, in which you can find one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world, with the world’s largest acrylic panel.
Oh, and just for good measure, as they’re in the middle of a desert, they’ve also got an ice rink that can host up to 2,000 guests.
If ever there was a zombie apocalypse, the Dubai Mall is the place I’d want to be holed up in.
A bit like the Vatican Museum in Rome, you will need several days to properly discover Dubai’s central shopping mall. Unlike the Vatican, you won’t have to queue up to do it (unless you’re going to the top of Burj Khalifa).
To give you an idea of the scope of the place, we wandered into a ladies fashion shoe area (more accurately, I was led into there by my wife…). After what felt like an age, I felt a panic attack coming on as I realized I could see no way out: Wherever I looked – for hundreds of yards in every direction – were display-after-display of ladies Italian and French designer fashion shoes. I’m talking Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Christian Louboutin.
Thank Heavens the prices were displayed in AED so I didn’t need to face up to the horror of the actual costs in denominations I understand.
Over 13 million square foot (equivalent in size to more than 50 football fields), the Dubai Mall has a total internal floor area of 5.9 million square feet. It also has a 250-room luxury hotel, 22 cinema screens and 120 restaurants and cafes, so getting a bite to eat is not a problem.
Dubai Mall – The Aquarium
For me though, the big attraction had to be the Aquarium.
If you wander for long enough after escaping the designer fashion outlets, sooner or later you will be confronted with a huge blue-lit see-through wall behind which is contained more than 33,000 living animals, representing more than 85 species including over 400 sharks and rays combined.
As both centerpiece and counterpoint to the Mall, the effect is fascinating, relaxing and hypnotic.
If you’re so inclined, you can even become an active part of the aquarium: You can opt for an even closer encounter with the Aquarium’s inhabitants by booking a Cage Snorkeling Experience. All you have to do is put on snorkeling gear, dive into the secure cage in the aquarium, and watch over 70 different marine species at close quarters.
For the more adventurous, qualified divers are allowed to dive freely with the sharks under the supervision of a divemaster.
All of this is no doubt great entertainment for the shoppers looking in from the outside.
When you’ve had enough of shopping and feeding the sharks, why not mosey on outside and take a look at (yes, the World’s Largest…) Dancing Fountain.
From the Burj Khalifa Lake, the Fountain shoots water jets as high as 500 ft (150 metres), equivalent to that of a 50-storey building. The Fountain has five circles of varying sizes and two central arcs, and operates in synch with classical, Arabic and world music.
The Fountain performs daily at 1:00pm & 1:30pm, and then every 30 minutes in the evening from 6:00pm to 11:00pm.
The beam of light shining upward from the fountain can be seen from over 20 miles away, and is visible from space making it the brightest spot in the Middle East, and quite possibly (… you guessed it) in the entire world.
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