When times are hard, there’s nothing like a little retail therapy to soothe the fevered brow. And lighten the pocket, one may add. The latter seems worth the former, if one goes by numbers and facts. The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s biggest, has been voted the most visited place on the planet for the fifth year in a row, attracting a record 80 million visitors each year. That’s more than any other tourist attraction in the world, more than the number of visitors to the Taj Mahal, Disneyland and the Pyramids combined. In fact, more than the entire population of France, which attracts the world’s largest number of tourists.
In 2012, the Dubai Mall received 75 million visitors, and the increase of 5 million in just a year shows that this massive temple of hedonism is supposedly the best place on the planet. And, it is not just rich Arabs from the Emirates who make up the numbers. These are people from all over: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and other countries in West Asia along with the expatriates who outnumber the locals in many of these states plus the tourists. There is nothing very special about Dubai Mall, built by the Emaar Group, except for its vast size and number of retail outlets, entertainment and eateries. The huge number of visitors clearly means that as a temple to consumption, it has no rivals. Every major global brand is present, so the choice is unlimited. But the bottomline is that in a time of austerity, to have a giant mall as the most visited place on earth suggests that indulgence will never go out of fashion.