Shopping: off the rails

Trawl the malls, discover homegrown designers and browse for mementoes in the atmospheric souks

 

Air-conditioned sanctuaries in the height of summer, entertainment hubs all year round and home to brands from the four corners of the earth, Abu Dhabi’s malls are a shopper’s delight. 

If designer wear is your kryptonite The Galleria, Al Maryah Island is sure to rob you of your self-control. We say give in and go try on some of the wearable riches from the many luxury fashion, watch and jewellery brands housed here, including Alexander McQueen, Graff, Van Cleef & Arpels, Richard Mille and Mulberry. A true lifestyle destination, the mall has a full calendar of stylish events, and even dining there is a special experience, with Abu Dhabi outposts of upscale eateries including La Petite Maison and Coya.

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The Galleria, Al Maryah Island

Over at the Etihad Towers development, Avenue at Etihad Towers offers a super luxurious boutique shopping experience, with a great selection of luxury brands including the world’s first Stephane Rolland store, A. Lange &Söhne and the likes of Hermès and Chloé, among others.

Moving away from the designer label-loaded, the largest mall in the city, and second-largest in the UAE, Yas Mall (main image)anchors the retail experience on Yas Island with more than 400 high-end and high-street names spread across 235,000 square metres of east-meets-west designed space. All things to all people, with Apple, Lego, Pottery Barn and the House of Fraser department store a microcosm of what’s on offer, it’s (literally) a one-stop shop. A requisite cinema complex, kids’ play areas and enough foodie venues to fill the hunger void any time of day, tick all the other boxes.

One of the city’s original mega malls and occupying a prime position on the Corniche Breakwater, Marina Mall is another retail big boy, amply stocked with the likes of H&M and Levi’s through to Tiffany & Co. and uber-stylish UAE fashion brand Sauce. Pick up a fragrant memento at Arabian Oud or Yas Perfumes, where traditional scents are presented in collectible bottles. It’s also home to the jump-tastic Bounce trampoline park.

Try on some of the wearable riches from the many luxury fashion, watch and jewellery brands

Connected to the Beach Rotana Hotel and right on the waterfront, Abu Dhabi Mall is another city stalwart housing hundreds of shopping opportunities. Virgin Megastore is your go-to for gadgets and gifts, while specialist stores include La Casa Del Habano for cigar aficionados, Paspaley for pearls and Persian House for carpets. Homegrown brand Bateel is great for a coffee and a box of plump juicy dates from its extensive range (the orange-peel stuffed variety is divine) while Laduree is simply macaroon heaven.

 

Nestled within an established residential community, Al Wahda Mall is a popular choice for families with more than 350 brands, including all the usual international suspects, complemented by lots of local flavour. Browse through the huge literary collection at Magrudy’s bookstore, bag a fashion bargain at Brands For Less and grab some therapeutic lotions and potions at Solace Organics. Big kids can head to Golf World for all manner of golfing paraphernalia while little kids get to burn off excess energy at Wanasa Land for bowling, paintballing and rock climbing. Rehydrate and sneak in a cheeky slice of delicious homemade cake at locally owned café Bloomsbury’s in between your purchases.

Need to grab some last-minute goodies en route to the airport? Dalma Mall is the answer with 480 stores full of fab finds. Head to Al Jaber Optical for the latest eyewear collections and Mywalit for colourful travel accessories. In the same direction is Mushrif Mall, where three floors, more than 200 retail outlets and entertainment areas means you won’t walk out without a little something. It’s also home to The Market, the city’s largest indoor fresh food emporium.

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Avenue at Etihad Towers

If you’re after some new swimwear or flip-flops for afternoons spent by the pool, Beyond The Beach at Khalidiyah Mall is sure to offer something to suit, while the Vintage Men’s Spa does a great line in male pampering treatments and Rivoli, Rolex and Hour Choice have timepieces to suit all budgets.

The concept boutique scene is also hotting up in the capital with a small but tempting collection of independent retailers selling quirky, cool and collectible items. Fashion-led Minbart in the Al Raha Beach community stocks pieces from up-and-coming local, regional and international designers, while Bits & Pieces in the Al Mushrif district is a repository of unique colourful homeware, décor and kitchen trappings. 

Carefully curated clothing and accessories from the likes of Fenty by Rihanna and Beirut-based Sarah’s Bag to Tim Coppen and T by Alexander Wang are sought-after staples at The Luxury Arcade, a multi-brand boutique at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi. 

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The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri

We all love a good mall spree, but for a sense of authentically recreated tradition, check out Abu Dhabi’s souk culture. The old Abu Dhabi open-air souk may a distant memory, gutted by fire in 2003, but its successor, The Souk at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi pays homage to times gone by with ornate wood detailing and Arabesque accents. Once inside, cast your eyes up to admire the stunning slatted ceiling, which bounces the sun’s rays off the blue mosaic-tiled floor. The three floors populated by individual boutiques are a treasure trove of Arabian memorabilia and mementoes. 

A bazaar attached to a five-star hotel (the Shangri-la Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi), The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri is a contemporary take on the Arabian market theme, with a touch of European influence thrown in for good measure. The waterside setting includes abras to ferry you along the man-made canal, a plethora of water-facing dining options, plus shops and pop-up stalls selling everything from jewellery and accessories to perfumes. Follow your nose to Amouage to stock up on oud-based fragrances, pick up a cashmere pashmina or three at Toshkhana, or treat yourself to some handcrafted jewellery at Exquisite Antiques Gallery.

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