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Malls, Dubai

United Arab Emirates's insider take:

The major malls have many of the same stores; the distinguishing factor for locals is proximity. You can easily spend a whole day at the Dubai Mall, one of the world's biggest, with more than 165 outlets. Located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, it serves as a town square for the entire UAE and region. Families drive here all the way from Muscat and Oman to see the world's largest single-glass-paned aquarium, shop for designer abayas and thobes, and stroll down Dubai's toniest indoor "fashion avenue," represented by brands such as Tom Ford and Alice Temperley. The café boardwalk terrace with outlets—try the Italian deli fare at Carluccio's—is a great place to watch people and the world's largest dancing fountain, whose water jets spurt in time to Arab pop and Michael Jackson's Thriller. For local brands, check out S*uce, a fashion emporium with internationally sourced diffusion lines and one-off creations by regionally based designers such as Essa, Bil Arabi, and Sugar Vintage. Many tourists go to the Mall of the Emirates, another city-size complex, and the only mall with an indoor ski slope bang in the center of it. All the expensive designer stores are positioned around a faux Rodeo Drive-style section. BurJuman is a local favorite (although the gridlocked traffic in the area tends to deter tourists) where Arabs flock to splash the cash at high-end stores such as Chanel, Hermès, Christian Dior, and traditional perfumer Ajmal, and to browse in the only Saks Fifth Avenue in Dubai. Named after a famed 14th-century Arabian seafarer, Ibn Battuta Mall is divided into themed areas of the world that he visited. It's a bit out of the way and the Mall of the Emirates has taken the wind out of its sails, but it's still a less-frantic alternative, even if the stores are of a slightly lower quality than the others mentioned here. For those looking to wander somewhere upmarket but compact, The Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers has everything the discerning shopper would look for on Fifth Avenue. You'll find around 50 outlets, including Boutique 1, the Middle East's answer to Bloomingdale's. The faux-Italian splendor (and we use the word loosely) of Mercato Mall belongs more in Epcot Center than Jumeirah. Adore or abhor it, it houses the Lebanese chocolatier Patchi, Syed Junaid Alam's traditional Arabic fragrances, and Pride of Kashmir (selling handcrafted carpets, shawls, furniture, and furnishings) alongside mundane Western chain stores, but it works well as a gift pit stop.—Updated by Susan Hack

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.