Why my new neighbourhood mall is the ultimate trap
You might think you are just popping in to buy some dog food, but you’ll invariably end up coming home with new shoes, a week’s worth of M&S meals and a diary from Typo
In other parts of the world, you’ll have your local corner shop. In Dubai, increasingly, you have your local “corner” mall.
The recent opening of The Springs Souk means I now have two malls within a five-minute drive of my house, with another on the way. When Al Khail Avenue opens in Jumeirah Village Triangle, I’ll have a 2 million square foot, 350-store behemoth with a multiplex cinema within walking distance.
On the plus side, last weekend, I decided at 1.45pm that I’d quite like to watch a movie. By 2.15pm, I was ensconced in the theatre at Springs Souk, a bucket load of popcorn in hand, gleefully watching the opening scenes of Crazy Rich Asians. In addition to its six-screen Reel Cinema, complete with a dedicated children’s theatre, Springs Souk has about 100 boutiques and restaurants, including a Marks & Spencer’s food store and cafe. As corner shops go, that’s pretty impressive.
But this new breed of mall needs to be approached with extreme caution. It feels harmless enough – friendly, convenient, easy to get to, inconspicuous. It’s easy to park and you might even bump into a couple of people you know. But for those of us who are trying to curb our consumption, or at least shop more mindfully, the neighbourhood mall is the ultimate trap. You might think you are just popping in to buy some dog food, but you’ll invariably end up coming home with a new pair of shoes, a week’s worth of M&S meals and a new diary from Typo. The walk from parking lot to Carrefour becomes an extreme exercise in restraint. You know you are just here to pick up some milk and drop-off some dry cleaning, but surely, it wouldn’t hurt to stop at Borders – and then Baskin Robbins?
Read more of Selina's thoughts:
It is already far too easy to become entrenched in the UAE’s mall culture. In other parts of the world, going to a mall is a special event. When I lived in Cyprus, the closest mall was a 45-minute drive from my house. When I studied in Manchester, a trip to the nearest mall, The Trafford Centre, consisted of a prolonged bus journey. In London, visiting the Westfield shopping centre constitutes a day out. These endeavours required planning and patience. In Dubai, take a wrong turning and you might accidentally find yourself in a mall parking lot.
Apart from encouraging mindless consumption, the problem with a local mall is that you run the risk of limiting yourself to the brands and stores available on your doorstep, and are far less likely to go out and about exploring what else the city has to offer. Why roam the streets of Satwa finding an expert tailor? Why explore the lesser-known home-grown fashion brands dotted along Jumeirah Beach Road? Why make the journey to the fruit and vegetable market in Ras Al Khor or the fish market in Deira? Everything you need (or a good approximation of it), can be found around the corner. You also run the risk of becoming more and more entrenched in your own neighbourhood. If you have restaurants, cinemas, play areas, supermarkets and everything else so close by, the circles you move in can become incredibly small.
So, as the weather gets better, we might all benefit from making those mall visits slightly less commonplace.
Updated: September 15, 2018 03:07 PM