My face must have lit up when I was told, just last week, that I was being sent to Edmonton in order to meet with a number of our candidates. "Wait," I said. "that's the place with the REALLY big mall right?" I can't help it. I am a twenty-something female, living in a big city with every store, brand name and latest trend at my fingertips. Maybe its genetics; maybe I'm a product of my environment; maybe I have a gift.
Regardless, my name is Audra and I'm a shopaholic.
I know I'm not alone. I know that you also wake up at 5am on Boxing Day and wait in line, in the cold, for those beautiful black patent pointed toe pumps that you have been eyeing all season. You know who you are. And if you are worried that the Middle East will not offer the same shopping experiences as your North American home, think again.
In Riyadh, you can't miss the Failsalyiah centre, especially as it is over 267 meters (876 feet) high. Inside, the ground floor is reserved for shopping and offers 150 stores carrying both international and local branded products. Here, you can even find Harvey Nicols, UK's famous luxury lifestyle store. Personally, I had my eye on the Chloe blue Paddington bag. Or there is the Kingdom Centre mall, with one of its floors reserved for women only.
If malls aren't your style (or even if they are) the souks offer a form of shopping that you can't find walking down the streets of Toronto or New York. Try your hand at bartering while you shop for Pashmina scarves, abayas, fabrics, and carpets. As you browse the shops, you will be surrounded by the intoxicating smell of spices and coffee, while truly immersing yourself in the Middle Eastern culture. Souks are easily accessible in every city and are often specific for one product such as gold, spices or fabrics.
You could get lost in Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar. It's so large that hired men with wheelbarrows follow the local women to collect and carry their purchases. I wonder if Macy's would ever offer a similar service for their fall sale. Located within the souks is the Waqif Art Center, which offers you the chance to view and purchase local paintings and sculptures.
Spend your day at Abu Dhabi's Dalma Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall, or Marina Mall. Or head down the road to Dubai to visit the Mall of the Emirates or Dubai Mall, and spend a day or two. (You may even wish to purchase some skis and try out "Ski Dubai" the desert's only indoor ski hill.)
Whatever your addiction, be it handbags, chandeliers, jewelry or food, you will find it at your new Middle Eastern location. Warning: withdrawal symptoms may result upon your return to North America.
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