“The Outlet Village is a first-class destination for designer shopping in a scenic and charming medieval Italian town setting.” Meraas
The Jebel Ali stretch of the notorious E11 highway between Abu Dhabi to Dubai is getting more and more interesting month by month. First came Last Exit Dubai, the American style truck stop with its colourful street food trucks that have forever changed the face of UAE roadside dining and now the latest attraction to open is the indoor designer shopping destination, The Outlet Village.
Earlier this week I set off to meet a friend from the UK who now resides in Dubai at the region’s newest retail and dining location, a European style outlet mall inspired by a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medieval Italian hilltop town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Adjacent to the new Dubai Parks and Resorts* development where Legoland Dubai is due to open on 31st October, the first phase of the The Outlet Village opened last month offering shoppers an array of discounted designer goods. Further expansion is already in motion which will see the mall triple in size and become the largest luxury outlet shopping destination in the UAE with more shops and cafes joining those already trading in phase one.
Aesthetically pleasing the indoor venue superbly replicates its Italian inspiration with authentic looking stonework, pebbled streets, sunny piazzas with gelato trucks and metal cafe tables and chairs, pretty archways and wooden shuttered windows with flower filled window boxes and grand stone fountains, there’s even a wishing well. Light floods in courtesy of the expansive glass roof and the main streets are wide and inviting, it’s a very pleasant place to while away a few hours.
The Outlet Village is the latest project of retail and entertainment aficionados Meraas, the Dubai-based holding company who have already completed many Dubai-based successful projects such as City Walk, The Beach, Boxpark and Last Exit. While it was pleasantly quiet midweek, I’m sure it’s much busier at weekends and I’m confident that it will continue to grow in popularity and be a huge success once all the phases are complete and the theme parks open.
There are currently one hundred and twenty five designer shops open for shoppers to browse and purchase some of last season’s bargains, with a further two hundred and twenty five outlets due to be up and running on completion of all the phases. If you’re a fan of reduced luxury and contemporary fashion, sportswear, furniture and household items look no further than the new Outlet Village. Looking for a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, that DVF wrap dress you have always coveted, some Tumi luggage or a colourful Coach bag then this is the place for you, obviously as it’s outlet it’s pot luck whether you can find your size, the right colour or anything at all but isn’t that all the fun of outlet shopping.
Alongside the standalone designer brand stores multi-brand stores Priceless and Etoile offer an abundance of luxury brands all under one roof. Department store Galeries Lafayette launched their first outlet concept in this region this week (after my visit). Favourites such as Dunhill, Armani, Calvin Klein, The Kooples, Cole Haan, Sacoor and Michael Kors have opened their doors already to name some of the brands that are already trading in phase one – see full list of shops here.
We started with coffee at Caffè Nero, a much needed caffeine fix to refresh us after our respective drives from both Emirates and trying to negotiate our way to our shopping rendezvous. After a preliminary reccy of the retail outlets we stopped for lunch in the modest courtyard style food court area choosing to have pizzas (we were in mini Italy after all) from Project Pie. This trendy pizzeria allows you to custom build your own pizza with their signature tomato sauce and select from many different toppings, including the more unusual brussel sprouts, all cooked while you wait in their open fire oven.
We finished our visit with a final dose of gossip over tea and cake at The Brass, the homegrown Dubai coffeehouse where East meets West in a delightful environment of golden wood, leather chairs and a gorgeous duck egg blue colour scheme. A good selection of coffees, teas, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads and cakes are on the menu, I can highly recommend the hexagonal shaped hazelnut chocolate brownie.
Other dining options currently open include Operation Falafel, Urban Seafood and Affogato Caffe as well as various street food trucks and carts dotted about the mall. There’s even a small All Day Advantage Minimart, a premium convenience store that offers gourmet items alongside everyday groceries and freshly baked goods – see all dining options here.
Wander through Tuscan inspired streets, relax with an Italian coffee or gelato in one of the piazzas, bag some bargains for all the family and dare I say it in October buy some Christmas presents. The Outlet Village is jam packed with reduced high-end merchandise, it’s an elegant place to shop and dine and I am looking forward to returning once more of the retail spaces and restaurants/cafes are open in the next phase.
The Outlet Village Dubai
Location: Jebel Ali, E11 between Abu Dhabi and Dubai – follow signs to Dubai Parks and Resorts
Opening hours: Sunday to Wednesday – 10am to 10pm and Thursday to Saturday – 10am to Midnight (opening hours may vary during National Holidays and Ramadan)
The Outlet Village offers over 2,000 free parking spaces and a valet service. Complimentary luxury coaches transport visitors to and from popular hotels and tourist destinations in Dubai, including The Beach at JBR (see shuttle bus schedule here )
*Dubai Parks and Resorts Development will be the Middle East’s largest multi-themed entertainment park with the region’s first Legoland, Hollywood-inspired Motiongate Dubai and the world’s first Bollywood Parks Dubai.
All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved. Additional photos used courtesy of www.theoutletvillage.ae