Largely ignoring the current economic climate, most of us can't help but indulge in the mammoth, air-conditioned malls of Cairo to feed an apparent retail therapy addiction. Still in the process of being completed, Sun City Mall in Heliopolis is often first choice when looking for a day out with the entire family.
Its bright red and blue exterior, as well as the gigantic, luminated 'Sun City' sign, certainly help the enormous mall to stand out whilst creating a sleek feel.
As if the traffic in Cairo wasn't bad enough, despite the car park being four floors, there's always a slight queue backed up in the road. Once you're inside, the parking is both perfectly adequate and reasonable, costing 5LE for the first hour and 3LE for every hour after. The ticket is a small yellow coin – be careful not to lose it, otherwise you'll face a fine of 75LE!
Once you've navigated your way up the moving walkways you'll find yourself surrounded by just about every type of shop you may need; men's, women's and children's clothes, accessories, jewellery, home stores, computer shops and restaurants can be found at Sun City Mall. Not to mention Fun Kingdom on the third floor – recreational park of sorts, complete with a jungle-themed adventure playground for little ones, bumper cars, and an arcade.
There's also a huge Carrefour on site, one of Egypt's favourite supermarkets.
Like most food courts in Egypt, all the fast food giants have set-up shop on the ground floor, including KFC, Hardees and, of course, McDonald's. There are also plenty of coffee and dessert places dotted about; Costa Coffee, German franchise Einstein Kaffee, Cinnabon and Carvel Ice-cream being just a few. Those fancying a more leisurely meal can find a number of sit down restaurants, namely the famous Lebanese eatery, Abou El Sid, a more commercial Chili's, big burger joint Kook's and Bigg's or Makani, amongst others.
Sun City is also home to the five-star boutique hotel, the Gabriel, which not only has a pool side bar and nightclub on the roof, creatively named Roof Bar, it also boasts Salt, a sophisticated French restaurant. In the mall itself, Cavallini also offer a slightly more upmarket meal and cocktails after 10pm. Check the Cairo 360 events calendar to stay up-to-date on both clubs' regular events.
There's a real mix of clothing and shoe shops at Sun City, for both men and women; international chains such as H&M, Gap, Monsoon, Aldo, Nine West, Payless and Clarks all have a definite presence, whilst local stores such as Seventy Cotton, Cellini and Plan B Clothing still manage to hold their own. Sports shops come in the form of well-known Puma, Nike and Adidas stores. Children needn't feel left out either; Mothercare, Pumpkin Patch and Okaidi should take care of most mothering needs, as well as providing a wide range of children's clothing and toys.
When furnishing or redecorating a home, White House and i-House appear to be popular destinations, particularly as they are both fairly large, stretching across the size of several shops. Also, head to 2b Computers, and Ra'a for all your computing needs.
From sunglasses to scarves, jewellery to watches, the number of shimmering outlets in this mall is never-ending. Grand Optics and C&Co are sure places to find the latest designer glasses. La Voile, Tie Shop and Accessorize are great if you're looking for a perfect addition to complete an outfit, whilst Damas and various other watch and jewellery shops will be more than happy to kit you out with a decent, albeit pricey, bit of bling. For perfumes, make-up and toiletries alike, Mazaya are likely to stock what you're looking for. Alternatively, there's even a pharmacy located on the first floor.
Even if shopping's not your thing, the Royal Rennaissance Cinema is conveniently situated inside the mall, just outside the car park entrance – you don't even need to look at the shops! For information on the films and their screening times, check out Cairo 360's cinema listings.
Sun City is still a work in progress but is expanding rapidly. Despite the fifth floor being the most under-developed, the other four floors are packed out with various chains and independent brands, some better known than others. Sun City offers customers the whole package, bringing together entertainment, dining, nightlife, clothes and food shopping, all under one roof.