I have been constantly asked why I am not drafting about Dubai, so I guess this is the first time I will start writing about this splendid city. Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene.
Speaking of ultramodern architecture, let me bring you today to this bizarre and outstanding shopping mall, the Ibn Battuta Mall.
The Ibn Battuta Mall is a massive shopping mall on the Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai close to Interchange 6 for Jebel Ali Village. Having more than 270 shops, 50 restaurants, a 21-screen cinema and over 4,500 parking spaces on a total of 521,000 square meters, Ibn Battuta is the world’s largest themed shopping mall. The mall is located on the red line situated on the 39th stop going to UAE exchange and would cost AED7.50 for the single trip. Driving otherwise would take you for a lengthy 45 minutes.
It consists of six courts, each of whose designs are inspired by some of the countries visited by the great Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta:
- Egypt Court
- India Court
- China Court
- Andalusia Court
- Persia Court
- Tunisia Court
I was off that day. Trying not to waste it since it’s not a sleep off (nurses would know this), I decided to head to this commercial center.
The good thing about the Dubai Metro is that it is very accessible. I did not know where the place was, I just decided to ask passersbys if I have doubts; but when I arrived at the station, oh there it was right in front of me! The mall that I have always wanted to visit was in front of me at last. I have been living here for 16 months and this was just the first time I lurked on this place.
The External Facade
This was at the right side of the mall, I took the photo while I got off the metro station under the scorching heat of the sun (40+ Degrees Celsius since it’s summer here now). It was not enticing; dull, boring to say the least and told myself maybe I just wasted my rest day.
Then this happened.
My supposed to be hunger was converted into inquisition and excitement; and the hunger for food was swapped into hunger for more mosaic tiles!
Ibn Battuta was a medieval Moroccan traveller and scholar, who is widely recognised as one of the greatest travellers of all time. The mall was highly made in honor of his travels for over a period of thirty years. This is what is highlighted in all the corners of the shopping mall. So first stop, Egypt.
Egypt Court brings to life the wonder of its ancient history – pharaohs, pyramids, hieroglyphics and temples.
Sandstone walls with carved hieroglyphics, papyrus columns, pointed arches of the central arcade, and majestic lanterns lend the feel of an authentic Egyptian bazaar.
The splendour of India’s Mughal period is clearly evident in the court.
The central dome bears influences of the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and
the Wind Palace. However, the centrepiece of the court is the Elephant Clock. A marvel of medieval technology created by an inventor Al Jazari.
Every hour, wooden carved figures, dragons and phoenixes of the Elephant Clock come alive and move together as it tells you the time.
The last chapter in Ibn Batutta’s odyssey, Andalusia was a land of art, poetry, architecture, science and learning.
Influences of that great time and civilization shine through in every corner of
the court. The star-shaped ceiling and Fountain of Lions are inspired by
the Alhambra Palace. The lofty halls and accentuated arches, take you back
to Grand Mosque of Cordoba. The red stone walls and terracotta tiles add to
the distinct Andalusian flavour.
Tunisia was Ibn Battuta’s first port of call. A hub of art and learning, it was dotted with splendid mosques and palaces, public gardens and colleges.
The court is modelled on the coastal towns of Tunisia and Carthage.White washed stucco facades, blue doors, wrought iron work and stained glass windows recreate the charm of centuries old African souks.
My favorite of them all is this exquisite Persian touch!
The artistry of Persia can be seen in the arabesque design of the court’s enormous dome. It’s arched passages, blue and turquoise mosaic walkway and magnificent brass chandelier immediately transports you to the vaulted streets of Baghdad.
Talk about a grand Starbucks Shop.
Storms, sunken ships, pirates. Ibn Battuta’s journey to China was an eventful one.
The court captures the majesty and vibrancy of Imperial China.
Spacious colonnaded halls decked with giant dragon medallions, white marble columns reminiscent of the gates of historic Chinese cities, a coffered ceiling
with royal motifs symbolizing happiness and prosperity.
At the centre of it all is one of the most seaworthy vessels of its times
– a Chinese Junk. It’s our homage to the great traveller and his remarkable adventure.
So that sums up my entire mall escapade! It doesn’t look like a mall after all, and looks like I also traveled the way Ibn Battuta did!
Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. – Ibn Battuta
As what Ibn Battuta has coined and became one of the most famous travel taglines of all time, traveling has brought a sense of a chronicler in me. I never wanted to write, I never wanted to share my thoughts and experiences but the excursions that I gained molded me to become a storyteller.
Thank you guys for journeying Ibn Battuta’s travels with me. Until our next mall escapade! Bye! 😉
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