Dubai was a city I was expecting to hate. I thought that I’d shake my head at all the excess, the fakeness and the contradictions.
I was wrong. I loved Dubai.
Of course, I did spend a lot of my time in Dubai in its shopping malls. I did wander around Old Dubai and the creek, but what stood out for me were those malls. I visited Dubai in early February, right in the middle of Dubai Shopping Week. It would have been a travesty not to shop.
Of all the malls I visited, the Dubai Mall was far and away my favourite. It had everything, from the Bloomingdale’s to Magnolia Bakery, and from an indoor aquarium to an icerink.
It also had an Armani Caffe.
I didn’t really understand the Armani Caffe in Dubai. It’s one of the most expensive places to eat in the whole city, but essentially you’re sitting in the middle of a shopping mall. It was like they were on a stage, taking up the spot reserved for Santa during December.
Obviously, this is a place where you want to be seen. You want to be seen in a mall, tucking into your pizza and Diet Coke, whilst everyone else is busy searching for iPads and Birkin bags. You want to say you’ve bought something from Armani, even though it was only a mocktail.
But that was Dubai to me. Its heart wasn’t in Old Dubai. No matter what the tourist pamphlets and guidebooks tell you, it’s not at the creek. Dubai is a modern invention, a bit of an experiment. A place that only seems to make sense inside its shopping malls.