A trip to the Dubai Mall is on every tourist’s list, but the role of malls in local Dubai culture can’t be overstated: This is a shopping center city—malls house so much of Dubai’s food and family entertainment, particularly in the summer months when the temperature outside can be unbearable. The Dubai Mall is the crowning glory of them all, at 5.9 million square feet—grab a map on your way in, seriously. Geared toward kids, there’s an aquarium, indoor theme park, Olympic-sized ice rink, and twenty-two screen movie theater. There are hundreds of places to eat, including the dessert-focused Parker’s. As for retail, you can find it all here. The ground/first floor area of the mall called Fashion Avenue has all the big designer and luxury brands you could think of. Also worth seeing: the department store Level Shoes, which is 96,000 square feet itself (i.e. SO many shoes). On the second floor, there’s an enormous, impeccable Kinokuniya, which is absolute heaven for bookophiles—there are more than half a million books here, plus thousands of magazines in multiple languages, and all the stationery and accompanying paper goods the heart could desire.

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