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Dubai Mall vs. Deira City Centre

When Kipp puts Dubai’s oldest shopping mall up against the city’s biggest and brashest, which will win out? It’s a conflict between nostalgic practicality and glitzy variety.

 

Standing happily in the shadow of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, just an exit off the first interchange of Sheikh Zayed Road, Kipp thinks Dubai Mall is in a prime location. For one thing, it’s located halfway between the old and new Dubai; while it stands amidst the residential and commercial area of the relatively new “downtown” Dubai, it is still fairly close to Old Dubai (unlike far-off cousins Ibn Batuta and Mirdiff City Centre).

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In the heart of old Dubai, crammed in between commercial towers, banks and residential blocks, Deira City Centre is seldom seen without a surrounding sea of red lights and a cacophony of blaring horns from frustrated cars surrounding it. For the sentimentalist in Kipp, loyal to the City’s first ever City Centre, the name and location of the mall fondly reminds us of the days when Deira was the pulse of Old Dubai, when it was the centre of business, entertainment, and life as we all knew it.

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Look
 

Talk about wow factor. The sheer magnitude of the mall is enough to impress Kipp, let alone the splendor of the thing. And that’s not limited to its impeccably maintained glossy floor and shinny lights – from the vivacious dancing fountains, the  aquarium that made it to the Guinness Book of Records, the artful installations, the nifty interactive mall maps, the scenic boulevard to the smudges of gold radiating from the lit palm trees that line the mall, Dubai Mall is just so easy on the eyes.

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Come this November, DCC will be fifteen years old and – if we suppress our nostalgia right now we’d probably admit – it sure as hell shows it. From slightly worn out toilet doors, to the tiny pieces of wood trying to pass of as benches, the glamour of the mall possibly got loss somewhere along the years. We’re not complaining though, DCC is still maintained considerably well – it’s clean, has bright lights and full functioning AC. But as far as looks are concerned, it’s no Dubai Mall.

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Shops
 

Despite visiting Dubai Mall quite often, we can’t say we’ve been to all the shops. Come to think of it, we can’t even say that we’ve been to half the shops in the giganticness that is Dubai Mall. But with what we’ve seen, we’re impressed. From Harry Potter memorabilia at The Noble Collection to 200 year old French drawers at Bloomingdales, Dubai Mall really does seem to have it all. It offers every visitor a chance of a happy discovery of what will become their new favourite store.

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Old school Dubai residents will agree Deira City Centre was Dubai’s first real mall. Sure there was the inaccessibly pricy Bur Jumans and Wafis, the quasi-malls like Al Attar Centre and Hamrain Centre, but let’s be honest: Deira City Centre was the first Dubai ever saw of relevant, affordable and fun shopping and entertainment. Over the years, the mall has tried to keep up with the times, which very unfortunately involved letting IKEA go, and Kipp thinks its done a pretty good job. But it can’t rival the mega-mall opposite.

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Metro
 

Getting to Dubai Mall by metro seems easy enough—get off at the station and then take the feeder bus to the mall. But the real trouble is trying to leave. Kipp generally likes to budget 40 minutes before boarding the metro. Why? Expect to waste a good twenty minutes trying to figure out which exit to take. Once in the bus, prepare for nausea-inducing twisty ride all around downtown Dubai (including traffic it can take up thirty-forty minutes) to the metro station.

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Kipp can’t think of another mall that is so easily accessible by the Dubai Metro. The station is conveniently located at the end of the mall next to the cinemas and has an invitingly long line of taxis queued up behind it, which makes the station easy to walk to and ensures a convenient place to get an alternative ride.

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Grub
 

As far as malls and food go, it doesn’t get any better in Dubai. Really – it just doesn’t. Dubai Mall has possibly the widest selection of food options in terms of cuisine, budgets and variety. From the decadently divine The Vintage Chocolate Lounge to the quirky Lemon Bar, it really does provide a unique and extensive range of dining options. What’s more, for the more extravagant, a quick walk to Souk al Bahar will reveal a selection of restaurants to give any snob “food” for thought. Sorry.

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Who wouldn’t enjoy sitting elbow to elbow in the extremely crowded food court which transforms decent residents into aggressive vultures looking for a free table to sit at. Not to mention that you get every sense assaulted by the blaring lights and sounds emerging from the neighbouring Magic Planet. Kipp isn’t satisfied with the more expensive alternative to the crowded food court: we’ve seen the line-up of Chilis, Unos and Cocos all too often and are beyond bored.

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Dubai Mall does have a decent selection of entertainment options: Sega Republic, Kidzmania, a gigantic Ice Rink and the shiniest and shamanciest theatre we seen in Dubai. Three floors dedicated to cinematic pleasures, Kipp is speechless. And if that wasn’t enough, Reel Cinemas is the only cinema in Dubai that commercially screens independent and artsy films at its Picturehouse.

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We will never forget Deira City Center for giving Dubai its very first mall + cinema combination (and consequently setting the standard for movie tickets at Dh.30- double the price paid before Cinestar), or for giving Dubai’s its first real arcade (who could ever forget the gigantic blue slide in the jungle gym?) but we are afraid we’ve may have grown out of it all.

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Dubai Mall may have the largest selection of shops, restaurants, and cafes but it can also give its visitors the largest headache as they try to navigate it. The interactive mall maps are handy, but the long distances one has to walk just to pick up a pair of leggings from New Look is infuriating not to mention tiring. And you always have the feeling that you managed to get Sharaf DG the last time you were here…

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It’s an institution in its own right, having been in Dubai for more than fifteen years, so Kipp is hard-pressed to find an old-school resident who doesn’t know the layout of the mall by heart. And for those who are new to Dubai, the relatively straight forward design and perhaps proximity of each shop from one another, makes DCC not very hard to navigate through. For its sheer practicality and ease, DCC wins hands down.

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