1. Riyadh Gallery
This mall located at the end of the King Fahad Road tops our list. It might be far to a few but we say it’s location is just right. Not too near and not too far. The distance is compensated by the King Fahd Road, which is a relatively wide highway with little traffic. But the most important reason is that it’s a one-stop complete mall. It houses three of our favorite department stores – three! – Debenhams, Centrepoint, and Citymax. It also has a famous one-stop beauty shop, Sephora. Eyecandy says it also resembles a Manila mall the most (say Trinoma) because of its wide space and nature (albeit faux) landscape in the center. The coffee shops are rightfully (and tastefully) placed in the nooks of this mall garden. The lack of in-house branches of popular restaurants is compensated with a brightly-lit, colorful food court with interesting eating stalls that we like. E likes Indian Garden in the food court which serves a mean Chicken 65 while Mary likes the no-fuss pasta at Pastalita. Overall, Riyadh Gallery is the Pink Tarha’s main retreat.
Relaxing ambiance (nature landscape in the middle)
Department stores (Centrepoint, Citymax, Debenhams, Sephora)
Popular brands (New Look, Zara, H&M, New Yorker)
Specialty stores (Konad for nail art and Stokes for funky kitchen tools)
Huge parking lot
Huge amusement center
Far location (at the end of King Fahd Road)
Death-defying high escalators
No in-house restaurants
2. Granada Center
Surprisingly, even if Granada Center is far from the city center, we are placing it in second because of a somewhat unique reason. Granada Center is probably the most men-friendly mall because most of the brands here carry their line for men. Like Topshop and H&M. So it’s a pro for our fathers, husbands, and brothers. Pro for us too because they become more willing to drive us around. We also consider its distance a breather from the grinding, busy city life. It also proves to be an advantage because we still find our sizes here, especially during the sale season. Granada Center is like a walk in the park. It’s spacious but not too huge to enjoy a stroll. It also has the must-go-to stores in our list like H&M, River Island, and Debenhams. Also, we don’t encounter the muttawas here as much compared to other malls (not that we’re hiding from them).
Department store (Debenhams)
Popular brands (Topshop, H&M, New Look,)
Brands for men (Topshop, H&M)
In-house restaurants (Steakhouse and a Turkish grill)
Huge parking lot
For women only food court area
Limited variety of stores
Limited eating stalls in the food court
3. Sahara Mall and Hayat Mall
We decided to combine these two together because once you’re in one, you can’t help but go “ober da bakod” to visit the other. And you can also go to Sahara Plaza, the home of Zara and La Senza’s liquidation stores. If not for the ongoing construction on the roads surrounding these malls, we could have placed it in the number 1 spot. But times and places have changed. The traffic in this area is a killer and you’ll waste precious minutes in the surrounding intersections, U-turns, and detours. Also, it was a breeze before to cross the road to go from one mall to the other but now that a fence has been installed in between, the walk outside is a strain (unless you enjoy walking like we do… sometimes). Overall though, Sahara and Hayat offer a huge variety of brands and stores combined. What you can’t find in one mall, you can find in the other. You can buy everything here from your clothes, groceries, books, cellphones, and appliances. It’s a one-stop gigantic shop… which you can reach after having a headache from the road hassles.
Location (near the city center)
Popular brands (Hayat: New Look, Zara, Lacoste, Al-Sawani, Paris Gallery | Sahara: MNG, H&M, Miss Selfridge)
Lots of food court choices
In-house restaurants (Hayat: Tony Roma’s and Applebee’s | Sahara: Fuddruckers, Cafe Ceramique)
Supermarkets (Hayat: Dabube Hypermarket | Sahara: Tamimi Market)
Jarir Bookstore and Best Electronic Store
Entertainment centers Cons
Major traffic in the area
Long detour in between malls
Always full parking lots
No London Cab
4. Kingdom Mall
Though we love this mall for the unique brands it carry, we find the stores very limited. What we love though is the ladies floor where we can step out of our abayas (which curiously, we keep) and relax with other women who love shopping and having coffee. We are also catered by women who know our wants and needs and whom we share the same interests. What goes on in the ladies’ floor is our own dirty little secret. Lol. However, the prices are somewhat too high. Salon services cost twice or triple than salons outside. Kingdom Mall has an upper-class clientele and this mall gives off that ambiance. The food court, though, feels otherwise. The available eating joints are scarce and not as varied as other malls. One major point when being in Kingdom Mall is the opportunity to go upstairs and visit the Skybridge where a glass wall is the only thing that separates you from a panoramic view of Riyadh.
Location (city center)
Luxury brands (Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tiffany and Co., Saks Fifth Avenue)
Luxury hotel (Four Seasons) and restaurants (Spazio, Quattro, The Grill)
Spacious, wide, brightly-lit areas
Limited variety of brands and stores
Only 1 in-house resto (Planet Hollywood)
Attacks on women outside the mall were ‘reported.’
5. Faisaliah Mall
We love Faisaliah Mall but it doesn’t offer as much as the other malls. It is the nearest mall to our work and home but we only find ourselves drawn by the food court which has our favorite food (Subway, London Chips, and Samurai). We also love their selection of desserts (Cheesecake Factory, Baskin n’ Robbins, a cookie stall, etc.) Their food court and Water Lemon have a nice view of the Olaya Road. It has a nice array of familiar brands like MNG, Zara, and Promod and has the only branch of Juicy Couture in Riyadh. It is also the home of upscale department store, Harvey Nichols. When done shopping, going to the view deck in Faisaliah’s globe is a must. For SR25, you get a nice 360 degree view of the city and limitless number of photos using your camera (Kingdom’s Skybridge prohibits the use of mainstream cameras; only mobile phone’s).
Popular brands (MNG, Zara, Promod, MAC)
High-class brands (Juicy Couture, Coach, Roberto Cavalli)
Department store (Harvey Nichols, Al-Sawani)
Good variety of food court choices
Ample parking space in the basementCons
Busy intersection of Olaya and Thalateen Sts.
Filled parking lots outside
No London Cab
There are still a lot of malls in Riyadh and we cannot count the possibilities of fab finds and experience. These five, however, are our go-to malls but we also visit Panorama Mall (for their amusement center… lol!), Al-Akaria Mall, Al-Nemer Center, Othaim Mall, Khurais Plaza, etc. but not as frequent. If you have raves and rants on the malls in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, do let us know in the comment box.
Happy shopping in Riyadh!