Al Hana Shopping Centre

There is an age old tradition when it comes to holidaying in exotic locations; as well as an uncomfortably raw suntan and a new love of foreign cuisine, most travellers always return to their homeland with a half a suitcase full of gifts and souvenirs that they just couldn’t resist. The irony is that, when back at home among familiar items, most tourists suddenly gaze upon their fondly collected items from far, far away – and realise they’ve brought back a bunch of junk that is no use to anyone. Suddenly, back on home soil, that treasured collection of local artefacts doesn’t seem so brilliant anymore.

If the phrase once bitten, twice shy is to be believed; such an experience will make one a little more cautious when it comes to buying gifts on the next holiday. However, when visiting the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, one can be a little more assured that their travel collections will receive rapturous applause rather than surprised disdain – that is, if one spends a little time of their holiday within the walls of the Al Hana Shopping Centre.

This reversal of tourist fortunes at Al Hana Shopping Centre is purely down to the goods on offer there. Within the precinct, the chances of finding yourself sold on native crafts that you later realise are ugly, or expensive rugs which you actually have no place for, are minimal. You see, rather than focus on the Arabian wonders and nights, the Al Hana Shopping Centre has taken a more fashionable route in the wares it offers. Instead of useless trinkets, this Abu Dhabi mall has taken the decision to go high end and designer, with some of the most recognisable names in fashion and music production happily setting up stores within.

The connection between Abu Dhabi – and in the fact, the entire Middle East in general – and fashionable, designer clothes, lingerie may upon first impression seem like an odd one. After all, what does a high Muslim country need with fashionable and designer goods, one must wonder? Well, the answer is probably nothing – the residents of United Arab Emirates are unlikely to find use for the latest designer mini skirt; but the designer shopping is not meant for them. In a way so savvy it has brought lovers of the high life flooding to the United Arab Emirates shores, a need for good Western designers has been identified, and now the major fashion brands are as likely to have a store in Abu Dhabi or Dubai as they would in Oxford Street, London, or Fifth Avenue, New York. The thinkers behind the United Arab Emirates surge in the tourist market have identified a desire for designer shopping; and they’re supplying it.

Al Hana Shopping Centre is, of course, a prime example of this. All the usual designer names and brands are represented somewhere or somehow, and the mall also has the added delight of being somewhat smaller than the worldly famous United Arab Emirates malls. It is less crowded, and while it cannot boast quite as many stores as its contemporaries, this quieter feel is suitable for some. When it comes to designer shopping, Abu Dhabi seems to have thought of everything.

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