Some people might have been happy at the news that Dubai Mall, the world's biggest, was set to get even bigger. But I, for one, reacted with horror.
Days as a Dubai Mall rat are numbered
I have no idea when it is going to happen, but my days of going to Dubai Mall for fun are numbered. Some people might have been happy at the news earlier this year that the world's biggest mall was set to get even bigger – adding a million square feet to the 12 million that are already there – but I, for one, reacted with horror. Fine, I will say what everyone else in the country must be thinking: Dubai Mall is far too big already. There are 1,200 stores and 160 food and beverage outlets, for goodness' sake. Sure, I always think it's a good idea to go. But in reality, each trip to this commercial expanse, which I make every two months or so, follows the same distinct trajectory from hope and excitement to panic and depression.
It takes about four hours.
As I enter, the shops and eateries beckon, and my heart starts to race. All the shops! All the restaurants! Have I got the right shoes on to tackle it all? I am going to stay here for hours, I think to myself. Maybe I'll cancel my dinner/exercise plans/random social engagement and just shop until I can't shop anymore. Maybe I'll buy that juicer I've been wanting!
Things go very well at first. I buy something I am happy with (not the juicer), have a nice late lunch and see something else I'd like to go back and look at again. Of course, I can't find the shop it was in and grow frustrated because I've walked several kilometres in the wrong direction. By now my feet hurt, and often my lower back. I am deprived of oxygen, need a bottle of water – the 160 eateries always seem to have vanished at this point – and wouldn't mind a pass by a toilet. This is when I notice the mall is filling rapidly. Eventually, tired and thirsty and cranky, I reluctantly decide to leave. Who cares about that thing I saw? Who cares about the juicer? A mild panic sets in at how far from the exit (and taxis) I am. I wander aimlessly.
Suddenly I am in Express, trying on a skirt. It's hot, the lights are bright. Next thing I know, I have bought three cupcakes and am carrying them in a fancy box with a spoon taped to the outside. Now I am looking at pink T-shirts with camels on them. I realise I am close to the place where the juicer is sold and so I buy it, ignoring the size, with no plan on how to transport it, and cupcakes, and pink T-shirts with camels on them, but still no water, out of this place.
I am limping now, having definitely not worn the right shoes. Why are all the seats in this mall always full? I wonder. I consider leaving the juicer behind. Many a lost journeyman has had to ditch so much more, I think.
Then, suddenly, there it is. The fountain, with those beautiful divers. I know the way! I don't even care that I wanted that thing I can't find but now will never get, but bought this ridiculous juicer instead. Soon, blessedly, I am in the hot car park. I am climbing into a cool car. And I am on my way to Abu Dhabi, vowing never to return - although of course I always do.
Except when it's even bigger. Then I am definitely swearing off that place altogether.