Dubai Summer Surprises 2013 is under way, with tourists and residents flocking to the city's malls. Let Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane guide you through the maze of options.
When the going gets hot
As the mercury rises, some might argue there's no better place to be than inside one of Dubai's many malls. As luck would have it, it's DSS time again, with the annual shopping festival running for an entire month until July 7.
Impressively, the shopping extravaganza is now in its 15th year. This summer, organisers have secured the participation of more than 6,000 stores across the city.
The habitual raffle prizes of bars of gold bullion and cars are back, but there are also some refreshingly different deals this time around - not least, the chance to win 1,500,000 Skywards miles with select watch purchases at Rivoli Group stores in the UAE.
Bags of bargains around
Committed mall-trawlers will be only too aware that top-tier luxury goods don't go on sale. That said, some big-ticket items, electrical and white goods are heavily discounted at leading department stores. The best bargains are probably still to be found in the high-street clothing outlets, with generous price slashes at Mango, for example, where cropped leather jackets, maxi dress and blazers are on the racks for less than 75 per cent of their original price.
Also worth a peek is Zara Home, where you can snaffle scatter cushions and last season's bedlinen for a song. Best buys include greige and silver striped throws for around Dh200 and crisp cotton bed sheets from Dh70. Be sure to do your homework, however: Zara's bathroomware may be on sale, but peeling back the ticket on a porcelain toothbrush holder revealed the Dh40 price was still nearly double what it originally cost in euros.
You've nailed the shops
After lugging around heavy bags and rummaging through your wallet for dirhams all day, chances are, you'll be in need of some pampering. If so, head to Karisma Ladies Centre located near Oud Metha Park where you can enjoy a manicure, Turkish bath, facial, plus wash and blow-dry for a bargain-basement fee of Dh550.
Hotels are also getting in on the DSS act, not least Park Hyatt's Amara Spa on Dubai Creek. Book an appointment to receive a reduction of up to 50 per cent on certain treatments such as the Summer Rejuvenation package, which incorporates a bamboo scrub, head massage and foot reflexology for Dh550 through to July.
The generation game
As always, the festival is heavily geared towards families, with each mall undertaking a programme of events for children of all ages.
With his bright yellow cartoon face emblazoned across billboards and on looped television adverts, DSS's cheerful mascot Modhesh is hard to ignore. If you have toddlers or teenagers, make a beeline for Modhesh World at Dubai World Trade Centre between June 20 and August 28. The expansive entertainment space has everything from playgrounds and soft toy recreational areas to a video-game lounge and 4-D cinema to keep the kids occupied.
Another option, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Dubai Mall's ice rink on June 19, is a public pillow fight, with young and old encouraged to unleash their angst on opposing teams with feather-filled weapons.
Culinary & culture vultures
Don't be fooled into thinking that DSS lives and dies by the "shop till you drop" mantra. There are plenty of F&B deals available for those who wish to avoid the crowded stores, one of the best being Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina, which invites you to feast like a sultan this summer. Dine at Ottomans restaurant for Dh250 per person until August 31 and enjoy traditional Turkish fare of stuffed vine leaves, lamb kofte and the sticky milk pudding kazan dibi.
After a quick bite, why not round off the evening with a trip to Ductac theatre in Mall of the Emirates. William Shakespeare's fantasy comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, will be performed until June 22, with tickets on sale for just Dh80.
DSS timings are as follows: Saturday to Wednesday, 10am to 10pm. Thursday, 10am to midnight. Friday, 3pm to midnight. Visit www.summerisdubai.com/en, www.karismacentre.com, www.dubai.park.hyatt.com and www.ductac.org
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