Best in Dubai is an annual event celebrating the people’s choice in everything from restaurants to sporting clubs. You, the readers, get to give your seal of approval by casting your votes for what you believe to be the best in Dubai. Once shortlisted by our expert judges, nominees can only win if you say so!
We love shopping and we know you do too, so we couldn't have a Best in Dubai award ceremony without nominating our favourite malls. Let us know which of these amazing leisure and shopping venues you love most by voting here...
Hurry! Voting closes at 6pm on Thursday 24 November.
The Dubai Mall
Address: Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 362 7500
Best shops: It's the largest mall in the world but there's so much more than sheer size (which definitely matters!). From the best of high street to the most exclusive of couture and everything in between - you'll find it here! We've got our hands on Versace for H&M's must-have collection, been styled to within an inch of our life by the efficient staff at Louis Vuitton, and enjoyed the perfect blend of brands at S*uce.
The Dubai Mall also has two of my personal favourite abaya boutiques, First Lady and Mashael (the latter is a bit expensive but has some of the best designs). Then there's the Alison Nelson Chocolate Bar, with its to-die-for chocolate shots, the massive bookstore Kinokuniya, which has all our fave Manga comics, and the Armani Caffe offering the most divinely delicious chocolate fondant in the whole of Dubai (to eat in or take away).
Things to do: Everything inside and surrounding The Dubai Mall is larger than life. You could head to the biggest aquarium in the world for some indoor scuba diving and then check out the Olympic-sized ice rink.You could propose to your girlfriend with the scenic view of dancing fountains or check out the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, which is right next door. Mums can make it a fun day out for their little ones at Kidzania, which is a small town in itself! Tweens can head to Sega World for cool gaming action.
Then there are mind-boggling options for dinner and a movie! Fancy a Fat Burger? You've got it! In the mood for Meditarranean fusion cuisine? Make your way to Switch! Feel like dim sum? Ping Pong at your service! Take our word for it - there's a whole lot more to discover every time you visit!
USP: You had us at Bloomingdale's, Dubai Mall!
Mall of the Emirates
Address: Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 377 2000
Best shops: Located in the heart of the city, and spread out over 223,000 square metres, MoE is a shopping haven. It’s where you’ll find Salsa Jeans, the leading Portuguese brand, whose designs will make sure that you stand out from the crowd. Pick formal wear at Massimo Dutti, indulge in some serious clutch love at Fendi, and then visit Christian Louboutin for your very own red-sole shoes!
Stop by Balenciaga, experience quirky cuteness at Boom & Mellow, discover style with a twist at Tanagra, and get your fix of classic jewellery at Boucheron, Chopard and De Beers. Full confession – as someone who loves fine writing instruments, we simply can’t resist Mont Blanc!
Things to do: The fun doesn’t end there! MoE also has a Magic Planet providing fun for all ages. You’ve got to experience the thrilling XD Theatre, the first ever 4D theatre in the UAE, and scream your hearts out in the turbulence ride (I know I did!).
You’ll need to re-fuel after all that entertainment. We recommend the yummy chicken sandwich at Fauchon, a sampling of Shake Shack’s best (for us that translates to the Shack Attack Concrete), a healthy sip or two at Tonic Juice Bar, the traditional fare at Pars Iranian Restaurant and the amazing Indian food at Asha’s, which is owned by the famous Indian singer Asha Bhosle.
After that break, take in a movie at VOX Cinemas or check out the many offerings, from award-winning plays to edgy dance performances, at Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre aka DUCTAC
USP: In the sweltering heat of Dubai, a genius came up with the idea of building an indoor ski resort. And then there was Ski Dubai!
Address: Khalid Bin Walid Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 352 0222
Best shops: BurJuman is the go-to-mall for luxe, high-fashion brands. Think Dior, Chanel, Hermes, Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Just Cavalli, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, among many others! When we’re there, we’ve also got to visit Mumbai Se. As the name suggests, the store has fashion, accessories and furnishings that channel all that’s special about India’s entertainment capital. Like me, my sister also loves the gorgeous collection at the abaya boutique First Lady.
You can also discover the fragrances that are a special part of the region at Rasasi and Ajmal Perfumes, shop for the man in your life at the Cerruti Jeans and Gianfranco Ferre stores and grab some stylish threads for the kids at Little Bunnies.
Things to do: My dad used to take me to Toby’s as a kid, and it is everything a child could dream of. Think mazes and ropes (I used to pretend to be Tarzan!). What the grownups will appreciate about BurJuman is the quiet classiness it offers. So you can enjoy everything from the most exclusive couture to browsing at the Virgin Megastore without the crowded feeling that tends to creep in at many other malls. Enjoy the ambience and then head out for nibbles at Dome Café, The Gallery, Barrio Fiesta and Paul.
USP: Saks Fifth Avenue! It lives up to its name, every which way!
Deira City Centre
Address: Deira, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 295 4486
Best shops: DCC is a sentimental fave for me. When I was in my early teens, it was one of the few huge and new malls in the city. I loved the stunning choices at Pimkie, and was thrilled to discover Promod, the French brand which has fabulous designer-inspired clothes When my sister was getting married, we found Cocoon which is now a very well-known boutique for its wedding gowns, veils, shawls, and cocktail dresses. L’Artisan, another boutique which offers a wide range in traditional clothing for Arab women, was on our must-visit list every trip to the mall.
Everything at Deira City Centre has a relaxed feel, from the Forever 21 and Mango stores to the sprawling Marks & Spencer as well as the extensive selection of jewellery stores. The Rolex showroom, revelling in its exclusivity, is another special place for some very memorable shopping.
Things to do: There’s Magic Planet for kids, movies for the entire family and Bowling City to catch up with friends – so you’re having fun no matter who you’re hanging out with. When those hunger pangs strike, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Do try out Potbelly’s sandwiches – it isn’t for the diet conscious, which makes it quite perfect when you want to indulge. China Times is another restaurant we love, as is Wild Ginger.
USP: Iconic – we love the fab variety, at super affordable prices, that the homegrown brand offers!
Mirdif City Centre
Address: Mirdif, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 800 6422
Best shops: From Victoria’s Secret and Bebe to Ted Lapidus and Pal Zileri - there's a fashion bonanza on offer at Mirdif City Centre. Try Kathy Van Zealand and Uterque for designs that will make you stand out and do visit the new Habayeb. Although there are many branches, this one exclusively offers abaya designs from Abu Dhabi at a very reasonable price.
Things to do: Playnation, with its incredible range of attractions for all ages, is a must-visit. Sample the adrenalin high of i-fly skydiving, the excitement of the soccer circus and the pure fun of Yalla bowling.
Recently, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was spotted having dinner at PF Changs, the American Chinese restaurant. It's on our list of recommendations at Mirdif City Centre as is Pinkberry, with its firm place at the top in the cool world of frozen yoghurts.
USP: The new L.K Bennet store made its Dubai debut at MCC
Ibn Battuta Mall
Address: Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 362 1900
Best shops: Inspired by the famous Arab traveller and adventurer Ibn Battuta, the mall itself is divided into six sections, each named after a place he travelled to. The sections which you need to hit for shopping are India and the Persia Court. The former has classy boutiques, luxury brands and stylish stores which include Evisu, Bauhaus, and the award winning Ginger & Lace. The latter has Paris Gallery, Debenhams and high street favourites such as H&M and Forever 21.
Things to do: Tunisia Court is the place to be if you have kids. The young ones can let their hair down at Fun City while you can do your weekly grocery shopping at Geant. Once you are done, grab some grub at one of the 16 food outlets in Tunisia Court. If there are no kids in tow, you and your beau or friends can head off to China Court which is home to the Entertainment Zone. It is also has the region’s first IMAX theatre – you can later sit down for dinner in one of the many restaurants that are present in the court. Choose Finz for Mediterranean cuisine or Pizza Express for Italian.
USP: The magnificent Lion Fountain, inspired by the Fountain of Lions in Alhambra, that is the centre-piece of Andalusia Court.
Dubai Festival City
Address: Garhoud, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 800 332 32
Best shops: Apart from the regular shopping options, what
makes DFC stand out is the specialty stores. Take Braccialini, the famous
handbag boutique whose tagline is In Your Handbag Lies All Your Life. Or Paris
Hilton’s boutique and even the very individualistic creations of Steve Madden.
It's all very young and very fashion forward.
Things to do: Meet your friends at Bateel, the authentic
Arabic cafe which has chocolate mousse and the usual sweet suspects, but also,
as an added twist, dates! Also, try the variety of restaurants at the Marina
Pavilion. We love Jamie’s Italian!
USP: The Canal Walk which boasts of its own fleet of abras!
Beach Road, Dubai,
Tel: 04 344 4161
Best shops: Mercato is the first and only
Renaissance-themed mall in the UAE. It's all about the good life here, so
you've got Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Topshop, Mango and Promod for
stylish shopping. There's the Virgin Megastore to get browsing and buying your
fave DVDs and books. Plus, there’s also a very popular Spinneys.
Things to do: Step into the newly opened Chocolate Bar for
a Nutella sandwich or head off to watch a movie at
USP: The Tuscan and Venetian architecture
Address: Garhoud, Dubai,
Tel: 04 324 4555
Best shops: Wafi is one of the few malls where quality has
the upper hand over quantity. It has big names like Escada, Chanel and
the vibrancy of Versace but it’s the raw originality of new designers at Ginger
& Lace, Tiger Lily and Desert Rose which puts it in a different class
altogether. Plus, there's a Designer Corner for women who want to get creative
with their abayas.
Things to do: The Encounter Zone with its virtual rides,
games and trained supervisors provides parents with enough time to shop while their
children have fun. Visitors can also enjoy a gentle ride on the Lazy River,
passing through the beautiful gardens. Adventure seekers can put their skills
to test at the indoor climbing wall.
USP: The Dubai Light and Sounds Show at Wafi is quite
Zayed Road, Dubai,
Tel: 04 436 1020
Best shops: Dress up like a celebrity at Juicy Couture,
discover abaya haven at Bedoon Essm, chill with Ulla Popken, or keep things
understated and chic with Balmain - Dubai Marina Mall lets you channel class no
matter what your style.
Things to do: Check out @Home, South Africa’s leading interiors
shop. Once you’re done shopping, you can have your meal at Carluccios’s – the
Italian eatery picked as the best family restaurant by Time Out Dubai. Finish
your meal off with ice-cream at Baskin Robbins!
USP: The Spa located in The Address Hotel, which is linked
to Dubai Marina Mall.