Hello UAE – Part 1: Dubai Mall

I had some time off in between semesters, and decided to travel to Dubai. With a cousin living nearby, the biggest concern that is residence was solved. My brother was travelling for some work, I included myself in his plans, and we went to UAE for four days.

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Leaving Karachi

We had 3 full days to explore UAE. Our first stop, by default was Dubai Mall. I wanted to visit the mall, take a look at the Dubai Aquarium, and end of the day with the must see dancing fountains in front of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifah. And that is what we did.

Me and Brother got dropped at the Al-Rashidiya metro station by our host. We took the metro to Dubai Mall. The metro train was a new experience for me. It was quick and took us right to the mall in 20 -25 minutes. The walk to Dubai Mall from the metro station is all covered and air conditioned, with at 4 or 5 moving walkways in succession. To reduce the time to reach the mall, one can walk over the moving walkway.

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A view from the metro

We entered the mall on the second floor. Dubai mall has four floors: Lower Ground (LG), Ground (G), Level One (1), Level Two (2).  There are more than 1200 shops, as boasted by the mall brochure. A brochure of the shops and the map can be obtained from the information counter. With this huge number of shops, the brochure is helpful to locate the floor of your desired shop.

The mall picture inside the mall
The mall picture inside the mall

There are maps placed all over the mall. There also are interactive maps, that allow searching for shops, via a touchscreen, categorically, or by name using the search bar. Major features such as Mosque, Lifts, Parking have their own dedicated buttons. The map highlights the shortest possible route to the desired location from the position you are at. In my case, they were usually at the other end of the mall.

The interactive map for the mall
The interactive map for the mall

The food court is huge, with all possible cuisines available. We opted for the Middle Eastern cuisine and chose to have Mandi and Basbousa from Al-Tazaj. The serving size is pretty huge. One person serving size satiates two people. The Mandi was pretty good (review coming soon on my food blog). The Basbousa was okayish.

Mandi from Al Taza
Mandi from Al Taza

Praying areas are well maintained and very beautiful. All praying areas have an ablution area adjacent to prayer hall. It is kept clean and an attendant makes sure to keep it dry, despite the many people coming for ablution.

Prayer area for females
Prayer area for females

If you need a break from shopping, there are many coffee shops around all over the mall. I wanted to experience Starbucks at least once, as we do not have it in Pakistan. I chose Caramel Macchiato while my brother chose a Hot Chocolate. The Starbucks cookie is cookie goals: chewy, fudgy, and just the right level of sweet.

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Coffee at Starbucks

Who misses Burj Khalifa when they are right beside it? We took a walk outside the mall, just to take a  look at the wonder called Burj Khalifa. We took the mandatory pictures of the Burj, and went back inside to explore the rest of the mall. We had to pay the Burj another visit after sunset, when the dancing fountain show was scheduled. My observation says that Burj Khalifa is mesmerizing in pictures while in reality it is just a very tall building. Dubai has other building which are truly architectural wonders.

Burj Khalifa - Barely fitting in one image
Burj Khalifa – Barely fitting in one image

We had planned to visit the Dubai Aquarium, but by the time we reached the aquarium, we were pretty tired, so decided to take a look from the outside only. We did miss the underwater zoo by doing so, but since we are not too keen about zoos, we didn’t feel very bad about it. If you are an animal and/or zoo enthusiast, the the aquarium and the underwater zoo are a must visit, judging by the reviews and the brochure from the ticketing booth.

The mall is sprinkled with coffee shops, pizza places and dessert bars. I found the motto for my life at one such dessert bar.

Life motto from Dubai Mall
Life motto from Dubai Mall

The dancing fountain was our last activity at the Dubai Mall. Positioning ourselves in the first row on the bridge connecting the Dubai Mall and Souq Al Bahar (which is the most recommended spot for watching the dancing faountains), we enjoyed  part of the lighting show on the Burj Khalifa itself, and then the world’s largest dancing fountains. It was surreal. Once the show started, it seemed as if everything around me melted away. It was me and the beauty of the water movements, accented with lights. The show we caught was performed on Baba Yetu by Christopher Tin.

Thus the first day ended, and we started our long journey back home, to take some rest before the next day’s activities.

Read part two of the UAE travelogue here. My tips for short duration visit to UAE will be included in the last part of this travel diary can be read here.

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