Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai
Ibn Battuta was born in Morocco in 1304 and spent his university days studying law. A yearning to experience more of the world took Battuta on a series of journeys that would see him cover 120,000km of the eastern hemisphere in 30 years. In honour of this pioneering backpacker, Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall takes his travels as its theme. The architecture within the mall's six courts reflects the most influential places to which Battuta travelled: China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalucia.
Drop the children off in Tunisia Court - designed to resemble a 14th-century North African marketplace and home to a monster-sized play area - and hit nearby Geant (shop 1, tel: 971
4 368 5858), the UAE's first mega hypermarket. Just about everything is available here, from toasters and prayer rugs to digestive biscuits and Chinese-style children's pyjamas (20 dirhams/HK$42). Gifts & Souvenirs (shop 241, tel: 971 4 366 9795) sells, you guessed it, gifts and souvenirs. Look out for metal bowls inlaid with Arabic motifs (35 dirhams) and wooden camels (40 dirhams) for that
Middle Eastern touch.
If you're looking for something larger, Oriental Carpets (shop 240, tel: 971 4 368 5550) has Persian carpets piled to the ceiling, with prices starting at 650 dirhams and rising according to size and wool quality. Christian Lacroix Junior (shop 125, tel: 971 4 368 5464) is an essential stop for your absolutely fabulous offspring, as is Tuc Tuc (shop 211, tel: 971 4 368 5382), a far more reasonable children's wear alternative. Summer dresses are priced from 80 dirhams.
Men are well catered to at Ibn Battuta and key stops include Etoile Jeans (shop 172a, tel: 971 4 366 9955) and Evisu (shop 152b, tel: 971 4 368 5373), with jeans averaging 350 dirhams at both. The China Court houses a 21-screen cinema, which contains the UAE's first Imax theatre, as well as a life-sized Chinese junk (below). Just about every activity-related need is covered at Go Sport (shop 145,
tel: 971 4 368 5344) and if, however unlikely it may be, you can't find what you are looking for here, head to Sun & Sand Sports (shop 232, tel: 971 4 366 9777).
India Court is home to British clothing stores Topshop and River Island and to the Elephant Clock, an enormous timepiece that stands eight metres high. If it's toys you need, go to the Egypt Court, which resembles 14th-century Cairo and is decorated with hieroglyphic friezes. The Toy Store is a lot of fun and is stocking character-of-the-moment Dora the Explorer merchandise. And when in Dubai, do as the natives do and load up on jewellery. Damas Les Exclusives (shop 95, tel: 971 4 368 5446) is the perfect spot in which to shed lots of cash, perhaps on a diamond-inlaid 18-carat gold bracelet costing 22,700 dirhams. Why not pair it with the matching necklace for 43,970 dirhams? Ibn Battuta would approve.