Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Malling of Fujairah

Growing Up

Much has been made in recent days of Fujairah getting its first shopping mall, almost as if getting a mall is the rite of passage that admits a city from childhood into adolescence.

A Mall is a Mall is…

Those who take a swipe at Dubai often speak of it in derogatory terms as a ‘city of malls’. A mall doesn’t usually have the character of the traditional shopping strips but there’s something to be said for an air-conditioned shopping centre in this land, especially when the mercury is hovering around 50C.

Colourless Malls

The malls that have a depressive effect on shoppers are those that look and feel the same regardless of where it is in the world that you’re shopping.

That’s why I like the smell of malls in the UAE where you enter a new arcade and you receive a strong whiff of Arabic perfumes or you visit a shop and you’re greeted with an incense burner and a cloud of oud.

Everywhere and Nowhere

In 1989 Michael Galinsky toured America and documented shopping malls across the country with his cheap Nikon camera. As he has recently got around to putting them into a video collection he writes:

I shot about 30 rolls of slide film in malls from Long Island to North Dakota to Seattle. It was hard to tell from the images where they were taken, and that was kind of the point. I was interested in the creeping loss of regional differences. I thought a lot about (photographer Robert) Frank's "The Americans" as we drove from place to place without any sense of place.

A Sense of Place

The lovely feature about Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall is the way it tells a local story and has been developed according to a Middle Eastern theme.

It would be a shame when the malls of Fujairah open and we walk around thinking that this could be a mall in Melbourne, Manchester or Montreal.

Hopefully the designers of the malls in Fujairah will create places that strongly reflect the local and regional distinctiveness of our eastern emirate.


Fujairah Commercial Complex Rising Rapidly, FIF, 29 April 2011.

Fujairah’s Lulu Hypermarket Developing into Shopping Mall, FIF, 15 June 2010.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted in the Fujairah in Focus—Facebook Page.

Image: “The lovely feature about Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall, is the way it tells a local story and has been developed according to a Middle Eastern theme.”

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