Dubai Shopping Festival – an ultimate guide for every shopper

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Mark your calendars for six epic weeks of retail therapy from mid-December to the end of January in the shopping capital of the world.

The Dubai Mall Waterfalls/Image credit: Kent Tupas/Unsplash

Popularly known as DSF, Dubai Shopping Festival is an annual event that runs for over a month showcasing the best of Dubai. It’s not just a shopping festival, it’s a chance to come together and enjoy the New Year celebrations, great food from around the world, fashion shows, pleasant weather and of course exciting offers. Discounts and deals are highly anticipated in this season. In fact Dubai residents hold off on shopping for weeks prior to the event in order to take advantage of the amazing Dubai Shopping Festival deals. 

When: Dec 15 – Jan 29

Where: All the malls and retail outlets throughout the emirate

During the Dubai Shopping Festival, you can also find great offers at the city’s world-class hotels and resorts. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly beach vacation, accommodation spots across the city offer packages to suit your needs.

The event begins with a spectacular opening that highlights Dubai’s rich culture and heritage. Fireworks and light shows are also part of DSF’s ceremonial event. You can head to some of Dubai’s entertainment hubs such as The Burj Park, La Mer, The Beach at JBR, Dubai Festival City, All Seef and Global Village to see these stunning shows up close. 

The most convenient and reliable transportation option to get around the city is to book a Blacklane limousine service in Dubai to anywhere you would like to go. When you download the Blacklane app, you can have local, professional chauffeurs ready for you within minutes.

History of Dubai Shopping Festival

Dubai Shopping Festival was organized for the first time in 1996 by the Dubai government to promote retail trade and commerce. However, later on, it evolved into a tourist attraction.

The first Dubai Shopping Festival attracted more than one and a half million visitors who spent more than 1.6 million dollars over one month. As of 2021, the Dubai Shopping Festival had attracted around five million visitors and earned (approximately) more than 50 million dollars. More than 700 brands and 3500 stores participated in DSF 2021-2022.

Dubai Shopping Festival records

When it comes to Dubai Shopping Festival, the sky is the limit, and you can expect all sorts of mind-blowing surprises. Several world records have been set at DSF over the years, including:

  • The world’s longest gold chain, 1999
  • The world’s largest sofa and chair, 1999
  • The world’s largest shopping bag, 2001
  • The world’s biggest bowl of Biryani, 2001
  • The world’s largest entry Visa, 2002
  • The world’s largest box of chocolate, 2002
  • The world’s largest shopping cart, 2004
  • The world’s longest buffet, 2004
  • The world’s first-ever moving train fashion show, Dubai Metro, 2013

Best places for shopping During DSF

If shopping is the name of your game, you will be spoilt for choice in Dubai. With a mix of shops, eateries, and entertainment options, spending time in malls has always been a favorite pastime in Dubai. Whether it’s fashion and beauty brands like Max Mara, Gucci, Aldo, Hollister, and Sephora or leading sportswear stores like Nike, Lululemon, and Adidas, bargain hunters will have a field day. Here are some of the biggest malls in Dubai where you can shop till you drop.

The Dubai Mall

Whether you want to shop until your heart’s content or just explore one of Dubai’s most famous landmarks, you might want to add Dubai Mall to your list. It sports its name for a reason. It is the world’s largest mall with more than 1200 stores, over 200 eateries and 10 attractions, including the world’s largest suspended aquarium.

Almost everywhere you turn, you’ll find a who’s who of luxury and high-street brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Balenciaga, and more. The mall also carries main-street favorites like Zara, Desigual, Marks & Spencer, and many more. All the usual suspects in electronics, homeware, and baby products have their flagship branches in this retail metropolis. There are eight department stores, including Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s, offering a wide range of fashion tastes to spoil you for choice.

You should never miss the food here. All the trendy and fancy restaurants and cafes have branches here. The mall is also home to Dubai Ice Rink, a 26-screen cinema that is the largest and most luxurious cineplex in the world, and lots of other entertainment options. A covered walkway connects the mall directly to the Dubai Mall Metro Station. However, the mall’s convenient location in the heart of downtown makes commuting a breeze.

One thing is for sure: there is no way you can finish this mall in one day or even two days. So, make sure to wear comfortable shoes to get the most out of this incredible shopping and entertainment experience. In fact, you might never want to leave. And if that’s the case, you can indulge in a luxurious stay at one of two adjoining hotels, Address Dubai Mall and Address Boulevard.

The Dubai Mall/Image credit: Wael Hneini/Unsplash

Mall of The Emirates (MOE)

Home to the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and snow park, Mall of The Emirates is the second-largest mall in Dubai after The Dubai Mall and caters to a largely upmarket clientele. This deceptively large mall has more than 650 stores. It carries all the usual suspects such as Apple, Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Crate & Barrel along with huge department stores including Harvey Nichols, Debenhams and more. Additionally, Dubai’s largest hypermarket (a very expansive supermarket) is located in this mall. The mall’s interior is an architectural masterpiece. Featuring elements of traditional Arabic architecture, each section has its own style and atmosphere.

With more than 100 cafes and restaurants, a Magic Planet for children, and a 14-screen multiplex cinema you’ll be unaware of how much time you’ve actually spent in the mall. 

The mall is located along Sheikh Zayed Road in Al Barsha and has a metro station to make transportation easy. The mall is also connected to the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates and the Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel.

Ibn Battuta Mall

Ibn Battuta Mall is both a landmark and one of the best malls in Dubai. As the largest themed mall in the world, shopping here is only the tip of the iceberg. The interior of this mall is truly impressive and awe-inspiring. It features six different zones representing the architecture and culture of countries that the Arab scholar, Ibn Battuta explored.

Whether you’re looking for branded items or top-quality products from renowned local or international retailers, Ibn Battuta has you covered. And it’s not just about shopping at this popular mall. It is also home to some of the finest dining in Dubai, with everything from fine dining to fast food represented. Additionally, there are plenty of entertainment options, including a movie theater and a children’s playground.

Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall is located on Sheikh Zayed Road in Jebel Ali and has a dedicated metro station. Get your phones and cameras charged, you’re going to take a lot of photos.

Persia Court Ibn Battuta Mall/Image credit: Ashish Mughal/Unsplash

Dubai Festival City Mall

This enormous mall with spectacular views of Dubai Creek features more than 500 shops across fashion, cosmetics, homewares, lifestyle, and more. If you decide to visit, you’ll find high-end brands like Tiffany & Co., Montblanc, and Coach, alongside the likes of The North Face, Levi’s, and Zara.

Foodies will enjoy visiting this popular waterfront mall as there are several popular eateries, cafes, and high-end restaurants here. And, if you need a break from all the shopping and eating, you can catch a movie at the mall’s 14-screen theater complex.

The mall is located on the south bay of Festival City, allowing you to enjoy a wonderful sunset scroll along the tranquil Creek waters. Although there is no dedicated metro station, there are several bus stops, and taxis are plentiful.

Dubai Marina Mall

Dubai Marina Mall is one of the most popular shopping malls in Dubai and the ideal place for when you need to liven up your wardrobe. That’s because it features more than 100 shops from fashion giants like Diesel and H&M to stylish local designers and jewelers. Outside of the fashion world, you have a great choice of lifestyle, electronics, homewares, and cosmetic stores, including Sephora and Rituals. The mall is also known for its impressive architecture and is a hot Instagrammable spot in Dubai.

Marina Mall and the surrounding area are foodies’ paradises; whatever your taste buds desire, you’ll find it there. Getting to Dubai Marina is the easiest thing: several metro and tram stations serve the area, and you just need to hop on one. What’s even more appealing about this mall is that it is just a few minutes away from the beach making it extremely convenient to visit. 

Dubai Outlet Village

It’s a well-known fact that Dubai is a shoppers’ paradise, and the Outlet Village in Dubai is the ultimate delight for fashion lovers, as it features many of the industry’s hottest names at super low prices. With more than 100 great stores to explore, you’ll find the likes of Juicy Couture, Calvin Klein, Coach, Nike, and Lacoste at up to 70% off retail prices.

The mall is designed in the style of European marketplace architecture, and to some it even looks medieval! After filling your shopping bags, you can enjoy a meal or a drink in a nice café or restaurant in the mall.

Dubai Outlet Village is located in the Jebel Ali area and doesn’t have a dedicated metro station. Taxis are the best way to get there since it is far from the city center.

Nakheel Mall

Located in the prestigious, chic area of Palm Jumeirah, Nakheel Mall is a haven for shoppers. Here, you will find an abundance of luxury hot deals perfect for window shopping, exploring, and swiping your card. Over 300 stores and 50 eateries fill the mall, where well-heeled shoppers browse through the racks of designer brands.

Many shoppers enjoy the mall’s palm-lined outdoor area where you can have a peaceful walk or fuel up at super charming cafes. The rooftop alfresco dining area is another highlight of this megamall.

The mall has a monorail station, direct bridges, and walkways to Palm Jumeirah. All in all Nakheel Mall is the perfect place to shop, especially if you want an elegant experience without the hustle and bustle.

City Center Mirdif

Located in the thriving community of Mirdif, City Centre Mirdif is one of the most popular shopping malls in the city where you can shop, dine and engage in a variety of thrilling activities. 

There are more than 400 shops in this mall, offering everything from fashion, accessories, beauty, electronics, to home appliances, toys, and everything in between. Along with famous global brands like Michael Kors, Timberland, Carter’s, Hamleys, Sephora, and L’Occitane the mall is home to Centrepoint and Debenhams department stores.

Among the mall’s many amenities are a spacious food court with options ranging from Chili’s to Five Guys, an indoor skydiving center, Magic Planet for kiddies, a 20-screen multiplex and a bowling lounge.

City Centre Mirdif is located along Sheikh Zayed Road. It does not have a metro station, but it is served by many bus routes.

Burjuman Mall

Burjuman Mall is one of the largest malls in Dubai, and it’s definitely a destination worth visiting. It has a wide variety of shops which include sought-after high street brands such as H&M, Forever21, and Clarks, while you can also find stellar dining options such as YO! Sushi and Mr. Crab.

Besides its impressive collection of shops, Burjuman Mall also offers a variety of entertainment options, including a cinema and a playground for children. With its convenient location in Bur Dubai, Burjuman is easy to get to by car or public transportation.