My feet hurt. I was wearing my new high-quality hiking shoes in preparation for a day of racing around a new city, but this was just wear and tear from the mall. The massive Mall of the Emirates, perhaps one of the largest malls in the world, had taken its toll, financially as well as physically. Best know for its indoor ski-slope, you can get lost wandering for hours on end. I laughed to myself as I thought of my grandmother who sometimes goes to her local mall during the winter months to get her exercise. She could sure get in shape here.
Everyone who enjoys shopping and isn’t too concerned with shedding a bit of the silver lining would love this place. It’s all-consuming and luxurious, not to mention a great place to people watch. Like an international airport, you have fully masked Saudis on one side, Lebanese hotties in tight jeans on the other; an Indian-Pilipino couple on your right, a young German mother with twins on your left. It attracts everyone. But can a mall be too big? Will consumerism be the foundation of this city and also its demise?
The Mall of the Emirates is only one of many unmercilessly expansive and lavish shopping centers in Dubai, and all of them are busy and successful. Today, the industry is booming. People flock there, spend money they don’t have, then come back to do it again. It seduces you with its extravagance, which is indeed impressive to see. But how long can one city maintain this level of consumerist frenzy? Will people keep coming, or will Dubai’s overpowering and otherworldly development become too much to handle? In light of the economic recession spreading across the developed world, Dubai’s carefree and rapid-fire luxury expansion might out-do itself. Granted, the majority of the expats living in the United Arab Emirates (which is only about 20% Emirati), have money to burn, but these days even the rich are being touched by falling stock rates and job loss. Dubai isn’t a city that knows how to tighten the belt. When the oil runs low, and the budgets get smaller, what will happen to the Emerald City? Dubai does what it does well, but it can only do so if the spenders keep spending. It will be interesting to see in the coming years what happens to this city. Will it remain a safe haven of luxury and decadence despite the hurting economy, or will we witness the crowning jewel of the Gulf turn into a 162 story high ghost town?
While it’s still booming, the city is certainly worth a trip. It may only have a few years to go, so put on your walking shoes and indulge in some of the consumerist extravagance that only Dubai can offer. You might drop a few pounds along with your money.