A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
A sprawling, Egyptian-themed mall, Dubai's Wafi City opened in 2001, not long after the emirate's construction boom began in earnest. The gaudy collection of temple facades, obelisks, and colossal statues that mix and match iconography from 3,000 years of Egyptian history makes Wafi City one of the most extravagant of the many gleaming malls that have made Dubai famous as a "retail therapy" destination. With 37 members of the Dubai Shopping Malls Group, competition for an ever-dwindling pool of shoppers is so fierce that many malls have adopted over-the-top architecture and themes to lure consumers. Among them are the Mercato, a Venetian Renaissance-themed mall, and Ibn Battuta, which re-creates the lands visited by 14th-century Arab traveler Ibn Battuta. Wafi City isn't even the only mall in Dubai to sport pyramid architecture, but it is the only one with Cleopatra's Spa.