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Dubaiís own Chinatown

(Deepa Narwani) / 23 April 2011

Looking for a slice of East Asia? Then head down to Dubaiís very own Dragon Mart, a large trading centre offering unique Chinese products.

Depicting Chinese heritage, you will find red Chinese paper lanterns throughout the mall, along with kiosks selling quirky items such as Oriental parasols and Chinese pottery.

The 150,000 square metres dragon-shaped structure has numerous shops engaged in the wholesale and retail trade of a variety of Chinese products. With ample parking spaces, the shopping centre is divided into seven zones.

But, remember the division is not so perfect. The products are often mixed up and you never know when you may stumble upon a ridiculously cheap pair of comfy shoes, a slinky silk embroidered gown or an authentic-looking set of pearls. The mall is teeming with nearly 4,000 shops and is a veritable gold-mine for bargain hunts and class finds.

“This huge indoor market is far from the city but worth the travel,” said Vaidehi Nakul, an Indian tourist. “Deeper and cheaper is the motto here. The further your go into the mall, the cheaper the prices. I have already bought a lot of stuff from here as these products offer value for money.”

Chinese groceries in the mall are flooded with imports like seaweed chips, freeze-dried shrimp and a gelatinous snack called Jellyfish King. Chinese-made bath fixtures, garden sculptures and lamps of all sizes and design are sold in bulk here. And they look just as authentic as the ones in the city’s mega malls and come at almost half the price. One can also make large-scale commercial purchases.

Redecorating your house, office or garden? Buying sports or gym equipment? Need copies of a teapot, heavy-duty farm machinery, or tiles for a building project? Any deal can be made here. Storekeepers from the Far East Asia are on hand to sell numerous mass-produced as well as one-of-a-kind items.

Rongying Gulf Trading is a shop that sells lights, chandeliers and show pieces. Ni Dao Mayra, the storekeeper said: “A lot of peoplecome here because they like the colours of the lights. The lights cost between Dh50 to Dh200. Business during the weekends is very good.” More than a kilometre long, filled with unimaginable goodies all the way from China, Dragon Mart offers shoppers more than just brand value. It’s a great place to stock up on anything from electronics to heavy machinery to food items, to fashion and many more things for the home. You can pick up beautiful decorative fans to liven up your walls, as well as pretty picture frames, and gorgeous butterfly vases for next to nothing.

It’s also a favourite for fancy dress items, with several shops dedicated to wigs, wings, masks and other costume paraphernalia. Among the food outlets there are kiosks selling delicious crepes with Nutella and few restaurants where one can sample authentic Chinese cuisine.

Aksinya Fillip from Russia said: “Travelling from one end to another takes time as you are bound to visit most of the shops enroute. They  sell clothes, gadgets, tools, and furniture as they are all so good. Whatever you want name it and you will find it here. I come here quite often.”



Dragon mart: fact file


- Opened on December 7, 2004

-1.2 Kilometres long

- Is divided into seven zones and has around 2,500 parking spaces

- The mall is itself dragon shaped

- It houses showrooms, shopping areas, restaurants and warehouses

- Located in International City, on Hatta- Al Ain Highway

- Is the largest trading centre of Chinese products outside mainland China.

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