Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ibn Batutta - At Last!

The Ibn Batutta Mall (henceforth known as IBM), was opened yesterday. Naturally, we had to go and take a look at our new local shops. The phrase 'all I can say is wow' springs to mind. We've seen the thing being built over the last two years, and marvelled at some of the exterior theming. We knew it was an incredibly large mall (not the world's biggest, but this is only Phase 1). We knew about the Mall being based on the travels of Ibn Batutta, a 14th Century Moroccan traveller. We knew the Mall has six themed areas (each as big as an average-sized mall), representing Tunisia, Andalucia, Egypt, Persia, India and China. And we'd seen some of the interiors around the GĂ©ant hypermarket since it opened 2 weeks ago. (I apologise for the lack of photos - I will try to take some in the next few days).

Looking up into the Persian Dome at IBM
But nothing can prepare your for the experience of being in the central area of the Persian Court. It's an amazing space topped by a huge, ornate dome. You expect to see things of this quality in palaces, grand mosques, cathedrals etc. But you really don't expect to see it in a 21st Century shopping mall. It is utterly magnificent.

And the India Court is no less amazing. It too has a central open area topped by a massive dome, and also a working replica of a clock mounted on the back of an elephant that has to be seen to be believed.

We were not able to see the China Court last night - this was cordoned-off and only VIPs were allowed in. We are only SIPs (Slightly Important People), so we'll have to explore China another time.

Interestingly, the entire 275 units are occupied. The mall was supposed to open in February, and the management had made a deal with the shop-owners to get them all to finish their fitting-out in time for the opening. Any shop that was not completed by the original opening date would suffer financial penalties. But if the mall did not open on time then the shop-owners would be paid for loss of income. There's probably 50-odd shops full of guys a-banging and a-hammering round the clock to get finished, but all-in-all the amount of stuff that is up-and-running is impressive.

So, Dubai gets another landmark.