Trend setting: exploring newly opened The Outlet Village in Jebel Ali
The UAE has a new retail-fashion destination – and with more than 100 brands on sale, The Outlet Village is sure to attract fashionistas and bargain hunters from across the Emirates and beyond.
The luxury retail centre opened last Thursday in Dubai’s Jebel Ali, and although some stores – such as Adidas, Sephora and Galeries Lafayette – will not open until later in the year, the mall is fully open and has a host of boutiques and a handful of dining options to entice its customers.
Jebel Ali, which has had the reputation of being somewhat of a no-man’s land between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has undergone considerable growth in the past year. The Last Exit food-truck concept has launched there (check out our story on it in Thursday’s Arts&Life), and the amusement parks at Dubai Park and Resorts are set to open next month. All the area really needed to become an all-in-one destination for residents and tourists, was somewhere to indulge in some retail therapy. Now it has that, too.
Jebel Ali’s recent surge of development is not by chance – it’s a bold, calculated move by Meraas, the Dubai holding company also behind Boxpark, The Beach and City Walk in Dubai, to help bolster the city’s fashion strategy leading up to 2020.
Just a 10-minute drive past the Ghantoot exit on the road from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, or a 30-minute drive from the JLT metro station, The Outlet Village is not what you might expect from a shopping mall nestled in the conventionally industrial district of Jebel Ali.
Terracotta bricks, placed in a sophisticated curved formation, line the floors of the mall, which has Italian-themed interiors. Its 1.5 million square feet sprawl out in a linear fashion, a bit like Ibn Battuta Mall.
As I walk through the main doors, eager for some fashion bargains, I am delighted to see signs that Starbucks and Ihop are opening soon. Though it has only been open for four days, a crowd has gathered to check it out.
Prepared for the possibility of a random selection of shops that might not suit my style – I always come out empty-handed when I visit Dubai Outlet Mall – a quick look at the store directory is a pleasant surprise.
At Banana Republic, shelves contain stacks of trousers with on-trend pinstriped, checkered and floral prints, all at Dh129. At Coach and Michael Kors, there are loads of handbags and wallets available with 30, 40 and 50 per cent discounts. In Calvin Klein, the label’s logo sweatshirt, which has become something of a street-style staple in the past year, is Dh245, a big saving from its original price of Dh549.
Quaint food trucks – or, rather, rickshaws – are placed around the mall, offering gelato. It is a fitting touch, since the layout and architecture are inspired by the Tuscan town of San Gimignano, a Unesco World Heritage site in Italy.
Restaurants already open include Operation Falafel and Urban Seafood, with PF Chang’s due later in the year. Affogato Caffe, a Dubai-based coffee-shop concept, features Italian ambience, mirroring the vibe in the rest of the mall, and serves gluten-free ice cream, sorbets, waffles and milkshakes.
There is something for everyone. I can envision my mother stocking up on wedding gifts at the Villeroy & Boch outlet, while the shelf of Dh90 heels at Bebe would attract my younger sister. For men, a varsity jacket – originally Dh950, now Dh475 – stands out at Diesel, and I spot young men shopping for jeans at Armani.
For new parents, there is a Mamas & Pappas, with a display of strollers, all at 30 per cent off. In any other mall, I would pass by the Lanvin boutique without a second thought – it’s not a brand I can usually afford – but since this is an outlet mall, I take a look. A table at the front of the store showcases an array of ballerina flats, originally Dh2,305, but on sale for Dh805. A shimmery, green and gold, floor-length dress catches my eye. Marked down to Dh12,500 from Dh31,225, I almost consider the splurge.
The opportunity to buy a Lanvin dress at more than 50 per cent off does not come often – not to mention, it would make an ideal outfit for next week’s Eid festivities. I resist the temptation and slowly back out of the store. Instead, I treat myself to that Calvin Klein sweatshirt and a few pairs of the Banana Republic trousers.
• The Outlet Village is open from 10am to 10pm, Sunday to Wednesday, and 10am to midnight, Thursday to Saturday. A complimentary bus service sets off for the mall from popular tourist spots in Dubai such as The Beach at JBR. For more information, visit www.meraas.com/destinations/the-outlet-village