Shoppers at Deira City Centre. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Before there were City Centres and Majid Al Futtaim malls spread across the UAE and the wider region, there was City Centre Deira — which was (and still is) the go-to spot for families, shoppers and tourists who live in and around Deira.

It was a veritable hot spot — where children went to hang out after a long day at school, where families trekked to with their kids to keep them entertained on the weekends, and where people went to buy everything from groceries, clothes, electronics and furniture. For the droves of people that still flock to the mall, it’s still a popular draw.


Stock Dubai shopping retail
City Centre Deira. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

Opened in 1995, City Centre Deira was a landmark project of the then newly formed Majid Al Futtaim Group. It was the largest mall at the time and was made at an initial cost of Dh300 million.

Thanks to its location, it drew customers from nearby Sharjah, Bur Dubai and beyond, who wished to shop at the mall’s smorgasbord of stores that might not have been open anywhere else. Among those were the European hypermarket Continent (which was later taken over by the Carrefour we all know and love), Woolworths, Debenhams and the Swedish furniture brand Ikea. (Yes, that’s where the original store was in the UAE!)

A popular destination for families and kids was the Magic Planet, which back then wasn’t the futuristic themed extravaganza it is today. Years ago, it had a lush, forest theme with lots of greenery, a massive jungle gym that snaked around the venue from top to bottom and even a mini train.

City Centre Deira was also popular because it housed the massive furniture store Ikea. However, it was moved to a larger operation in Festival City in 2005.

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City Centre Deira in numbers

- The mall has more than 370 stores

- 123,028 square meters of retail space

- The centre also features MAF Tower, an 11-storey office building

- 22 million people visit every year