Dubai has become synonymous with shopping and mega-malls (with The Dubai Mall currently holding the title of the worlds largest). With each new mall opening comes the promise of bigger and better things. So it was extremely refreshing to discover the newly opened BoxPark on Al Wasl Road.
BoxPark is a unique addition to the Dubai shopping scene, in the fact that it is predominantly an outdoor destination with a unique twist. The shops themselves are made out of old metal shipping containers that have been stacked on top of each other and converted into retail units – an interesting use of recycling unwanted ugly materials into something fresh and exciting.
This is not a new concept, as the original BoxPark opened in Shoreditch (East London, UK) four years ago. Though the Dubai counterpart is an altogether different affair, shedding the rough around the edges, hipster vibe of its UK equivalent. BoxPark Dubai is (instead) a far classier experience with upmarket retail shops which retain the air-conditioned comfort that is required for the desert heat of the UAE. As an East-Londoner it is great to see this innovative solution replicated in another location, to such great success.The vibe of the BoxPark in Dubai feels very bohemian and cosmopolitan, and this is reflected in the choice of shops on offer. There is everything from retail units selling dog accessories, to your more common high street brands such as Nike and Adidas. We especially liked ‘Imaginarium’ a lovely toy shop for children, along with ‘Typo’ and ‘Zoo’ both of which are new concepts that Dubai-ites will love. Upon entering any of these artsy shops you are unable to identify that you are inside a shipping container, and the interior designers of these units should be commended for what they have managed to achieve within these relatively small spaces.
The BoxPark itself runs down a small stretch of Al Wasl Road and though flanked by the road on one side, you really don’t notice the traffic streaming past. With the palm trees and the funky vibe of the location, its feel more like you are in somewhere like Miami as opposed to Dubai.
Plenty of dining options are on offer throughout the run of shops and you will find something to cater to even the fussiest of eaters Whether you want burgers or bubble tea, BoxPark has got you covered. As you peruse this shopping district keep an eye out for the unique touches, like the play area containing large fluorescent penguins, crocodiles and turtles that children will absolutely adore. Or the huge ‘BoxPark’ fonts that can be climbed upon, to enable you to get that perfect selfie.Timing is everything and visiting in the heat of the day could be problematic as there is not much shade as you move between the different containers. Thankfully there is a taxi service that runs electronic cars up and down the pavements of BoxPark for those who don’t want to walk. These cars look like a modern twist on something that you would have found in the 1930s and help to add to the unique atmosphere of this location.
When day turns to night and the sun sets, BoxPark really comes into its own and the shipping containers are bathed in neon lights. The trees are dusted with fairy-lights and every element of architecture within the park bursts with vibrant colours. This small section of Al Wasl Road is transformed into a nighttime photographers dream, a technicolour paradise, and a becon of light to everything in the surrounding area. All of which is juxtaposed against the Dubai skyline with the Burj Khalifa towering above! BoxPark really is a great place to sit and admire the Dubai cityscape and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of what this city has to offer.Our predominant reason for visiting the park this past weekend was actually for a family outing to the newly opened DomeBox.
DomeBox is the latest in technological innovation and a first for the Emirates. The concept is that of a 360 degree cinema with 4D effects including haze, wind and scent – all of which combine to create a complete sensory experience. The films shown are between ten and twenty minutes long and are aimed at educating children. We found the BoxPark to be the perfect location to showcase this new and exciting modern technology.
The experience starts as soon as you enter the venue – the ceiling spins with giant metal cogs and the doors look like something you would find on a time machine. Yet at the centre of the building lies a giant white dome.. the elusive DomeBox.
After grabbing our tickets (45 AED for two films) we were ready to embark on our journey into the heart of the machine… The mythology of the DomeBox is that it is a time machine that takes visitors on a journey to see new and interesting things. You are introduced to Professor Gustav the creator of the device who explains that:
“The DomeBox will take you on a fantastical journey through space and time. The DomeBox takes you on various expeditions and explorations evoking wonder and awe. Experience memorable adventures and all-encompassing action!”
The introductory video not only sets the scene for what is about to come but also acts as a safety demonstration. The doors to the time machine then slide open and you are ready to partake in your journey through the DomeBox! You enter a darkened room with a dome shaped ceiling. Mechanical imagery is projected onto the roof, which is in fact a large cinema screen. The floor is littered with bean bags, which you can lie on, so that you can gaze up at the ceiling to view the movie (there is also the option to stand and padded bars are provided for you to lean on should you wish). Once the film starts you are immediately immersed into another world and the cinematography is cleverly used to convey perspective and movement as you travel between various locations learning about the environment around you.We watched two films during our visit – ‘The Life Of Trees’ and ‘Astronaut.’ The former being a journey deep into nature as you whizz through grass and trees learning about photosynthesis and growth. The latter is narrated by Hollywood actor Ewan McGregor and depicts exactly what it is like to be an astronaut in space. In our opinion Astronaut was the better of the two movies, as it is seemingly a more coherent experience using the technology to its full potential, as you glide around space stations and the curvature of the earth.
It should be noted that during our visit we did NOT experience all of the sensory elements such as scent or haze that are promoted in the press release for DomeBox. Though this did not detract from our overall viewing experience.
In summary we here at Out and About UAE believe that DomeBox is great indoor entertainment for the family, and the perfect way way to escape the Dubai summer heat. DomeBox should be applauded for its ability to make education fun for children in a new and innovative way. Though adults may not get as much out of the experience as it is aimed as a very specific demographic. Hopefully this will change as additional films are added in the coming months.If a trip through time and space in the DomeBox gives you a bit of an appetite, then why not treat yourself with a bite to eat to round out your day. There are lots of foodie options on offer, many of which can’t be find in other locations in the UAE. We had some delicious treats from Brownie Box and will certainly be returning again to try Melting Pot – Dubai’s first fondu restaurant.
BoxPark Dubai provided a great day out for our family and we hope to see it expand with even more shops and restaurants. This bohemian little quarter of Dubai should not be missed.
Location: Al Wasl Road & Corner of 35th Street, Dubai
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.