As summer settles there are few more popular places to beat the heat. We put the island’s malls head-to-head.
Bahrain City Centre The big daddy: If you’ve been on the island for five minutes it’s unlikely you’ve skipped the obligatory visit to BCC. Preparing to celebrate its sixth birthday in September, Bahrain City Centre can still boast to being the biggest mixed-used development in town, with more than 350 shops and 60 places to eat.
For summer fun though, it’s the entertainment options which make a weekly visit not unlikely – we’re talking games metropolis Magic Planet, the whopping 20-screen cinema, and of course the joyously named Wahooo!, the first climate-controlled indoor/outdoor water park in the Middle East, a sprawling 15,000sqm over two levels.
Yes it gets understandably busy on Thursday and Friday nights, but for sure versatility this is hard to beat.
Best for: A family day out Open Sat-Tue 10am-10pm; Wed-Fri 10am-midnight. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Road, Seef, www.bahraincitycentre.com (17 177 771).
The Bahrain Mall Despite its grand title, ‘THE Bahrain Mall’ is a mere babe compared with some of the competition – not that size is everything. Still it’s perhaps not surprising that it’s been given a couple of other nicknames. Namely ‘Geant’, due to the huge, competitively priced anchor store (‘Bahrain’s first hypermarket’) which dominates the visita as you approach. The mall itself prefers to be known as ‘The Family Mall’, a not unfair claim with The Home Store (known as Homes r Us in UAE, Kuwait and Qatar) offering one of the best places to get inspired for a summer refurb, alongside scores of other notable international brands.
Al Enma Mall Approaching its second birthday this August, it’s sometimes surprising Al Enma hasn’t found it’s way onto the mental map of more islanders. Perhaps still best known as being home to the kingdom’s second Geant, there’s still a sense this Riffa spot will have more to offer soon. At the time of press, two years on even the mall’s website was still under construction – but one to watch.
Best for: Trying something new Open daily 10am-10pm (Mall); 8am-midnight (Hypermarket). Umm Al Naasam Avenue, Riffa (39 474 577).
Moda Mall It’s no exaggeration to say that Moda Mall is not Bahrain’s most accessible place to shop. Wilfully describing itself as an ‘ultra-exclusive shopping complex’, Moda is packed with 160 high-end designer boutiques including the likes of Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Dior, Fendi, Versace, Valentino, Lowe, D&G and Roberto Cavalli, many making their first appearance in the kingdom. Handily located near the big spenders in the heart of the Bahrain World Trade Center, Moda kind of reminds us of an art gallery – in the sense that it’s quiet, expensive, full of beautiful things and is easy to wander around as thought in a trance-like state of awe. It’s certainly upped the ante for stylish shopping on the island.
Best for: Fashionable folk Open daily 10am-10pm. King Faisal Highway, Diplomatic Area, modabwtc.com (17 535 140).
Seef Mall Seef Mall is among Bahrain’s most popular, and with good reason too.
It feels like it’s been here forever, and it’s true that the mall’s opening back in 1997 changed the face of the district it continues to define.
The headline grabber is clearly Magic Island, the largest indoor amusement park in the Middle East, ideally located on the first floor. But we reckon it’s the healthy mix which keeps this place ticking over – the range of high-street to designer clothes brands, and the huge selection of dining. Expat Brits are also kept coming back for the familiar UK brands such as Debenhams, BHS and Marks & Spencer. A firm favourite for good reason.
Best for: Serious shoppers Open Sat-Wed 10am-1pm; Thu-Fri 10am-11pm. Sheikh Khalifa Highway, Seef, www.seef.net (17 581 111).
Al Aali Shopping Complex Despite its swelling size, Al Aali is too often overlooked by its neighbour Seef Mall. This mall is a quieter, slower, and altogether rather different proposition. With an Arabic theme and bathed in light, we’re often surprised it’s not busier. But as it is, a quiet browse round the extensive range of designer boutiques is a tempting option, and it’s also worth checking the glam department stores Seventh Heaven and The One.
And don’t forget... Country Mall Based in Budaiya it might be a little out the way of the city centre, but the aptly named Country Mall does a prize job of tempting city slickers in with some of it’s more niche offerings, such as a specialist feng shui store, top-notch golfing shop, and hair salon just for kids. Open daily 10am-10pm.Fri-Sat 10am-11pm. Budaiya (17 592 250).
Dana Mall While it’s starting to show some signs of age, Dana Mall remains the mall of choice for some hardened islanders, while the reliable 12-screen multiplex cinema and double-storey Chakazoolu children’s entertainment centre help keep Dana Mall on the radar. Open Sun-Thu 10am-10pm; Wed-Sat 10am-11pm. Sheikh Khalifa Highway, Sanabis, www.danamall.net (17 558 500).
The Walk Bahrain As Bahrain’s only outdoor mall, The Walk is (quite literally) a breath of fresh air. Summer clearly isn’t the best time to visit, but if you’re new in town, take note of this Riffa gem. Mainly aimed at families it also has a number of retail shops, plus some great cafés and restaurants. Unlike anything else on the island. Open daily 9am-11.30pm Road 1509, Riffa (16 666 661).
Yateem Centre Now more than 25 years old and sitting in the heart of Manama, Yateem Centre continues to attract hordes of shoppers looking for a bargain, often in electronics products. But it also boasts a good range of jewellery and clothes, while the lively buzz helps feed the current of the city. Open daily 9am-9.30pm. Souq, www.yateemcentre.com (17 215 615).