A study of socio-spatial behaviour in traditional and contemporary shopping environments in Dubai, UAE
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Shopping as a phenomenon which has existed since the early history of humanity to meet human needs, has become one of the main daily life activities. Traditional shopping environments are places where people in the past spent their time shopping, talking to each other and discussing their issues. Today, shopping environments are constructed in a modern architectural style and at much larger scales. Arab and Islamic countries met with the initial concept of shopping malls in the 1980s, which have become more common in most Arab countries in recent years. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of these countries where, as a result of rapid economic growth, modern shopping environments have proliferated. These modern shopping environments do not relate to the physical and cultural contexts of UAE. Dubai, which has become an important tourist destination, is an Arab Islamic city with several souks (traditional markets in the Arab world). This research aims to develop our knowledge and understanding of the shopper’s socio-spatial behaviour within the built environment in traditional and contemporary shopping environments in Dubai, UAE. It addresses this issue through an in-depth investigation of human perceptions and activities in a traditional souk (Souk Naif) and a shopping mall (Dubai Mall). The research methods divided into two stages: the first stage is based on qualitative methods, which include literature review, analysis of documents, and physical survey of the buildings. The second stage combines quantitative and qualitative methods including a questionnaire (mostly quantitative, with a couple of questions focusing on reasons for people’s behaviour and motivations) and two types of unobtrusive observation – snapshot and individual behaviour mapping (qualitative methods which generate quantitative data). Shopping malls seem to encourage the involvement of young people, especially shoppers who are 20-29 year, within the shopping environment more than traditional souks, which the research showed older shoppers in Dubai still prefer. Malls, as modern shopping places, display more density, longer duration and slower speed of shoppers' behaviour in contrast to the lower density, shorter duration and faster speed of shoppers' behaviour in souks.