My Opinion

KARACHI NOTEBOOK: The mega mall culture

Written by Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi|Published September 23, 2018

HANGING out at the city’s many mega malls has now become a favourite pastime for people of all ages.—White Star

LIKE all the huge metropolitan cities of the world, Karachi has evolved with the passage of time. One visible sign of this ‘evolution’ is the rise of mega mall culture in the city that had no ‘mega mall’ at the turn of the millennium. Yes, there were a few shopping malls here and there but they came without a food court, without amusement parks and/or without multiplex cinemas. They were more into catering to customers who were interested in buying clothes, the first copy of branded items or getting them stitched.

The first major mall in the city that offered people a variety of choices was Park ‘The Point’ Towers that had everything you wished for — from valet parking to food court and air-conditioned interior — and despite being two decades old, it still retains its charm despite standing nowhere in front of modern-day mega malls of the city.

Atrium Mall in Saddar must be credited for entertaining the audience for nearly a decade now; not only was it the first mall in the city to make the customers realise that an international-level establishment is possible in Pakistan but also brought world-class cinema to the audience as well. Located in the centre of the city — Saddar — it became the favourite of people from eight to 80 as the food court complemented the three-storey mall while the interior provided them all the more reasons to make it the number one destination to chill.

One must also mention Dolmen Mall Clifton for raising the bar, that too right along Seaview. Although they don’t have a cinema in their premises, the Dolmen Malls seem to be the go-to destination especially on weekends. Although the Dolmen Group had been in the business long before the first air-conditioned mall was opened in Karachi, their progression from the ’90s to the 2010s is noticeable.

However, the latest entrant in the mega mall game in Karachi is Lucky One. The mall, situated at Rashid Minhas Road provides the residents of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar and adjoining areas the option to chill near their residence and cut down the huge journey they used to embark on while visiting malls in Clifton and Defence.

While the opening of malls in different parts of the city has helped customers, it has made the life of traffic constables quite difficult. Why? The more the malls, the bigger the traffic chaos and on weekends Karachi can easily be labelled as the ‘Traffic Jam Capital of the World’. Even that doesn’t stop the Karachiites from storming into malls to do everything imaginable from window shopping to eating and buying quality stuff from multinational chains. The emergence of food courts has hit the many food streets and food joints in the city as food courts offer a number of options under one roof with proper seating arrangements and a relaxing atmosphere.

Gone are the days when people used to visit shopping centres in Tariq Road, Clifton, Gulshan-i-Iqbal etc on special occasions like Eid, New Year and other national holidays. Now the mall down the road has all the answers for you and your family. Some malls restrict the entrance to families only on weekends but that’s acceptable considering there are a few individuals who just visit malls to disturb families, especially females.

Some of our mega malls might not be of international standard but they are like a step in the right direction and in coming years, there might come a time when people from other cities will visit Karachi to get a ‘mall-sy’ feeling on a weekend.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

About the author

Omair Alavi