From the introduction to Rem Koolhaas’/Harvard Design School’s Project on the City (Volume 2, Guide to Shopping):

“Shopping is arguably the last remaining form of public activity. Through a battery of increasingly predatory forms, shopping has infiltrated–even replaced–almost every aspect of urban life. Town centers, suburbs, streets, and now airports, train stations, museums, hospitals, schools, the Internet, and the military are shaped by the mechanisms and spaces of shopping.

The voracity by which shopping pursues the public has, in effect, made it one of the principal–if only–modes by which we experience the city.”

If that is true anywhere it must be Dubai.

But if museums are becoming malls (consider the increase in museum shop sizes over the past decade) can’t malls become museums?

That’s exactly what I saw happening in Dubai’s Ibn Battuta mall. The billboard cases in some of the mall’s hallways now carry posters about the scientific achievements during the golden age of Arab culture. Moreover, a number of elaborate models/installations inspired by Arab inventions have been built and are being showcased.

Read the Gulf News story here (Google cached version).

Ibn Battuta Poster about Arab Medicine

Abbas Ibn Firnas in Ibn Battuta Mall

Giant Clock model

Poster about Arab Engineering in Ibn Battuta mall.

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2 Responses to “Mall=Museum=Mall”

  1. Basem Says:

    This reminds me of how the town-center of the 150k inhabitants English town I lived in; how it was literally turned into a ghost-town when a mall (the size of Abdoun-Mall) suddenly emerged out of the blue in close proximity of the center!

    Obviously most chain outlets (food, designer, clothing, electronics ...etc) deserted for a niche spot in the mall, the beautiful thing was that an “alternative shopping culture” (if I can call it such) suddenly swamped the deserted shops with new low-budget shops opening in place with distinctly different offering which revived the town center.

    I’m not bla-bla-phobic when it comes to globalization (though I like to think that I oppose it) yet I do really hate the feeling of uncomfortable-familiarity when walking into shopping malls around the world!

    Nothing is more thrilling than a genuinely distinct & cozy town-center or downtown… thank God McD’s ilBalad bitten the dust long before leaving any mark!

  2. Haitham Issam Says:

    Very true! And what’s with the ‘Cows’?! Those Colored Cows and Camels? (All C’s by the way) Although they kinda vanished, but still i couldn’t seem to understand the fuss they’ve created! everyone wanted to take photos by them! Even Andy Rooney of 60 minutes once dissed them :D

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