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Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Ultimate Dubai Downtown

The biggest and best of Dubai

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    This guide contains photos
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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 0.2 miles / 0.3 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: A short 40 years ago, Dubai was a small, sleepy town located around the Dubai Creek. Today it has emerged on the world map as a major global player and seeker of world records. With all of its desert bravado, Dubai seeks to be the biggest and best in every venture it undertakes.

In the neighborhood known as Dubai Downtown, you find the greatest concentration of these iconic records. In the space of a long afternoon you can stroll through the largest mall in the world, view an aquarium through the largest acrylic viewing panel in the world, ice skate on a Olympic size ice rink, view Dubai from the tallest building in the world and watch the largest water fountain in the world dance to a wide variety of Arabic and contemporary music. Oh yes, and dine at some of the finest restaurants in Dubai. All within a short walk from each other.

This is an excellent walking tour for children. If they get grumpy the Mall even has two age-appropriate kids entertainment areas you may want to invest in.


Tips: The easiest way to get to the Dubai Mall is by taxi. In Dubai, taxis are cheap and plentiful. Also, the parking garage is an undecipherable maze … and it is always full. Valet parking is available.

However, if you don’t mind a little hike you can take the Metro exiting at the Burj Khalifa station and walking towards the Burj (the tallest building) which is easily seen. They claim there are feeder buses from the Metro but don’t count on it.

There is also bus service on route 27. Buses arrive and depart from Cinema Car Park on the Lower Ground Level every 15 minutes.

Bring a sweater or shawl. The outside temperature may be blistering hot but the malls are very cold.

You should purchase your tickets to the Burj Khalifa ahead of time online. The sunset times sell out very quickly. This also helps you avoid long lines at the ticket counter.

Dinner reservations are only necessary if you wish to eat at the nicer restaurants at the Souq Al Behar overlooking the fountains.

You may want to bring your own socks for the ice skating.

Remember you are in an Islamic country and they ask all those entering the mall to be respectful of their dress code. Women and men should be loosely covered from neck to elbow to knees.

Points of Interest

Shopping
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Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall, the region’s premier shopping experience, is the world’s largest shopping, leisure and entertainment destination. Part of the $20 billion Downtown Burj Khalifa (originally the Burj Dubai) development, the mall offers an overwhelming array of shopping and entertainment possibilities.

In Dubai, a mall is not just for shopping. It is a destination. Think of it as the “town square” in other cities. It is a place for families and friends to gather and spend a leisurely day enjoying the activities and sites. This is due in part to the fact it is air conditioned which is very appealing when the temperatures top 100 degree.

With more than 1,200 shops to choose from, the Dubai Mall takes shopping to warp speed. Every imaginable product is offered from electronics, to designer fashions – both adult and children, to jewelry and house wares; even two grocery stores.

Keeping with Dubai’s Arabian heritage there is a gold souq and the Arabian Court Souk. Fashion Avenue will overwhelm you with every top designer in the world is offering their couture clothing. The waterfront promenade is the site of many special events and performances. Dining comes in all forms – food courts, specialty and ethnic restaurants and fine dining. Some restaurants have outdoor seating to enjoy when the weather is cool.

Entertainment offerings appeal to all ages. Cinemas, an ice skating rink, kids’ entertainment zones and the famous Dubai Fountain all clamor for shoppers’ attention. The waterfront promenade is the site of many special events and performances.

Twice a year, winter and summer, Dubai springs into a shopping frenzy with the Dubai Shopping Festival. This is an extravaganza of discounts, competitions, prizes, fireworks and entertainment. Its shopping discounts make this the perfect time to grab a bargain.

If this isn’t enough for you, the bridge across the Dubai Lake takes you to another shopping centre – Souk Al Bahar. Translated as “the market of the sailor,” this is an Arabic themed shopping and dining destination. There are more than 100 shops and 22 restaurants, most with seating on the waterfront promenade overlooking the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa. Note that alcoholic beverages are served in most restaurants on this side of the lake.

Hours:
Sunday – Wednesday, 10AM – 10 PM
Thursday – Saturday, 10AM – 12 PM

Maps are available at the information kiosks

Phone:
Dubai Mall: +971 (0)4 362 7500
Souk Al Bahar +971 (0) 362 7011
Email:
enquiry@thedubaimall.com
enquiries@soukalbahar.ae

Landmark
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The Waterfall

Once you have entered the Mall go to the lower ground level and follow the signs to the Ice Rink. Once you see the Ice Rink turn 180 degrees and walk towards The Waterfall.

The Waterfall is a stunning water sculpture that dramatically flows down the entire four stories of the Dubai Mall. Cascading down the dazzling waterfall are sculptures of human divers plunging into the water below creating “a dynamic visual spectrum that complements the rhythmic flow of water.”

An array of coffee shops and restaurants overlook The Waterfall providing a welcome place to relax. Mall events are held at The Waterfall. Check the Dubai Mall web site for schedules.
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Dubai Ice Rink

From The Waterfall (facing it) turn to your left and proceed to the Ice Rink.

Ice skating in the desert? Only in Dubai! The Olympic size ice rink offers first time and experienced skaters the bragging rights that they ice skated in the desert. The rink offers skate rentals, security lockers and lessons for all levels. Snack and drinks are available at the skater’s counter.

Spectator seating is available in bleachers inside the rink or at the various restaurants and coffee shops that surround the rink at the ground level and levels 1 and 2.

Stop and watch the skaters and maybe you will be lucky enough to see one of the Dubai star skaters at practice or the ice hockey team. At least you can enjoy the merriment of less experienced skaters as they slip and slide across the ice. Children are very entertaining to watch . . . they are so fearless, perhaps because they have such a shorter distance to fall.

During the summer the ice rink offers free fun activities for children with competitions and prizes. Check the web site for more information.

Want to join the fun? Skating costs AED 30 (approximately $5/hour). Check the timing schedule.

There are also several packages. The Ice Pass gives you unlimited ice time all day for AED 125 (approx $30) and includes a free locker. Moms & Tots gives you entry for the first public skating for AED 55 (approx $10) for mom and child. A skating coach is on hand at this session. (child must be below 100cm to be considered a toddler).

Disco sessions offer groovy music to raise the excitement of your skating experience. Penguin pals skating aids help the small children to enjoy the ice too, cost AED 30 (approx $5); only for children under 100cm in height. Packages are for two-hour sessions unless otherwise noted.
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Phone : Tel: +9714 448 5111

Email: info@dubaiicerink.com
Other Resources
Dubai Ice Rink Timings
Animals/Wildlife
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The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

From the ice rink go up to the ground level and follow the signs to the Dubai Aquarium.

The Dubai Aquarium,entrance located on the ground level of the Dubai Mall, is the largest suspended aquarium in the world home to more than 33,000 aquatic animals including the world’s largest collection of land sharks.

The best experience is the view of the aquarium from the Guinness World Record winning acrylic panel. This free viewing area can be seen from all 3 levels of the mall but is up-close and personal on the ground floor viewing area.

There are various packages for purchase to see more of the aquarium but unless you have small children, or even adults, who have never seen a fish, you are better off passing on the packages as the components are rather basic in nature and a bit expensive for what you get.

Phone : +971 (0)4 448 5200
Email: enquiries@thedubaiaquarium.com
Landmark
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At The Top Burj Khalifa Experience

From the Dubai Aquarium go down to the lower ground level and follow signs to “At The Top.”

Dubai is the ONLY place you can visit the world’s tallest building. Best place to get a bird’s eye view of the city. Better go quick as Saudi Arabia has announced that its Kingdom Tower will be completed in 2017 and it will be the tallest!

The Burj Khalifa, 828 meters (2,716.5 feet) tall, is an incredible feat of engineering rising 160 stories from the desert floor. It claims many world records – tallest free-standing structure, highest number of stories, highest occupied floor, highest outdoor observation deck and elevator with the longest travel distance in the world.

The building is comprised of The Armani Hotel and Residences, 63 stories of ultra-luxury residences complete with state-of-the-art fitness facilities, recreational areas and pools, corporate suites, a restaurant and the public observation deck.

The Burj Khalifa is featured in the film Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise set the city atwitter performing his own stunt of climbing the outside of the Burj Khalifa. Check out the YouTube video of this feat. This becomes even more amazing once you have been to the 125th floor observation tower.

Go to the At The Top entrance – hopefully you have purchased your tickets already and can bypass the long lines.

You begin your experience to the top by traveling along the 65 meter travelator that tells the story of Dubai’s history and the building of the Burj. Take your time this is fascinating.

The Burj’s high speed elevator (10 meters per second) flies you to the 124th floor observation deck where you get a 360 degree view of Dubai. There is an open-air terrace and special telescopes that give you the view you are looking at in past and future modes.

Best buy is to purchase your tickets online (up to 30 days in advance). You not only save a good deal of money but you avoid what can sometimes be crushing lines. You also can pick the time you want to go and schedule the rest of your walking tour accordingly.

Ticket prices:
Adults (13 years+): online AED 100 (approx $27); at the door 400AED (approx $108)
Children (4-12): online AED 75 (approx $20); at the door 400AED (approx $108)
Infants to 3 years old free

Hours:
Sunday – Wednesday, 10AM – 10PM
Thursday – Saturday, 10 AM – Midnight
Last entry 45 minutes before closing


Phone : (International) +971 (0)4 888 8124; Within UAE 800 ATTHETOP
Email: info@athtetop.ae
Viewpoint
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Waterfront Promenade

After exiting the Burj Khalifa Observation Tower entrance on the Lower Ground Level of Dubai Mall turn right and go the first exit doors on your right leading to the outside promenade.

The Waterfront Promenade fronts the Dubai Lake, a man-made lake that is home to the famous Dubai Fountains. Stroll along the promenade or just sit and relax and enjoy "people watching" the tourists, expats and Emiratis passing by.

With any luck you will catch some first rate entertainment as the Waterfront Promenade is the scene of live music and other entertainment throughout the year. Check with the Dubai Mall ahead of time to see if there are any live performances scheduled while you are visiting.

Phone :
+971 (0)4 362 7500
800-DUBAI-MALL (800 38224 6255)

Email: enquiry@thedubaimall.com
Food/Dining
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Dining

There are an inordinate number of opportunities and sites to suite your dining needs while at the Mall. Both the Dubai Mall, and its close neighbor Souk Al Bahar, offer every kind of restaurant from coffee shops and fast foods to fine dining.

Want to get away from the crowd and relax? Watch the fountains while you enjoy a delicious meal at one of Dubai mall waterfront casual restaurants.

Fine dining is best found at the Souq Al Bahar, Take the bridge across Dubai Lake where you will find fine dining restaurants with the waterfront views, most who serve alcohol. Dinner reservations at the Souk restaurants are a must.

Fast food courts are wildly popular in Dubai. The Dubai Mall offers almost every food franchise you can think of. Burger King – we got it; Johnny Rockets – its here; KFC – couldn’t live without it; Check the mall map for other offerings and locations. The kids will love you.

Phone :
Dubai Mall +971 (0)4 362 7500; 800-DUBAI-MALL (800 38224 6255)
Souq Al Bahar +971 (0)4 362 7011

Email:
enquiry@thedubaimall.com
enquiries@soukalbahar


Landmark
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The Dubai Fountains

The Dubai Fountains, the world largest dancing fountain, is an entrancing $218 million performance of light, music and water choreographed by WET Design. This is the same company that did the Bellagio Hotel fountain in Las Vegas – but as is the style in Dubai – Dubai’s is more spectacular – 6,600 light and 25 colored projectors accompanied by classical, contemporary and Arabic music.

The choreographed water sprays reach heights of up to 500 feet sending more than 22,000 gallons of water into the airborne. The show goes off every 30 minutes.

It can best be seen from the bridge crossing the Dubai Lake to Souk Al Behar or the Waterfront Promenade.

Hours:
Sunday – Wednesday, 1 PM - 10PM every 30 minutes
Thursday – Saturday, 1 PM - 11 PM every 30 minutes

Phone :
+971 (0)4 362 7500
800-DUBAI-MALL (800 38224 6255)

Email: enquiry@thedubaimall.com


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KidsZania

If the smaller kids are getting to you and you need a break you may want to consider KidZania located on level two.

Kiszania is an interactive entertainment venue where children can take on adult roles learning to be a surgeon, a police officer, a fire fighter, etc. It replicates a small city with its own town square, bank, hospital and school. As kids “work” at their chosen field they earn their own Kidszania money which they can save at the bank or spend.

Hours:
Sunday – Wednesday, 9AM – 10 PM
Thursday, 9AM – midnight
Friday – Saturday, 10AM – midnight

Tickets:
Children 2-3 AED 95 (approx$20)
Children 4-16 AED 130 (approx $$30)
Adults AED 90 ($approx $20) must be accompanied by a child
Children below 120 CM need to be accompanied by an adult

Phone : +971 4 448 5222
Email: enquiries@kidzania.ae
Other Resources
Kidzania Official Website
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Sega Republic

Have older children who have tired of sightseeing? Give them a break at Sega Republic. This is an indoor theme park with five zones featuring more than 200 games and virtual experiences. Thrill your kids with 9 heart-stopping attractions, test their skills on over 350 amusement games and win some prizes.

Tickets:
Power Pass – full day pass - AED 140 (approx $$35)
Platinum Power Pass – full day pass + free AED 200 credit for games – AED 250 (approx $65)
Pay & Play Pass – purchase a Pay & Play Pass and top it up as you go
Individual main attractions run between AED 15 – 30 (approx $4-8)

Hours:
Sunday – Wednesday, 10 AM – 11 PM
Thursday – Saturday, 10 AM - 1 AM

Phone : +971 (0)4 448 8484
Email: enquries@segarepublic.com
Pictures in this guide taken by: Dubai Mall, katiefoster46

The Ultimate Dubai Downtown Map


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About the Author

katiefoster46
katiefoster46
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Katie is an American expat freelance travel writer living in Dubai, UAE. Her interests include travel,...

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