The number of shopping malls and shopping centers in Abu Dhabi is pretty impressive considering the size and population of the city. For me, shopping malls are a place to be avoided, only going there when I absolutely need to buy something. Here in Abu Dhabi, going to the mall is what you do on the weekend. In a country where it's nearly impossible to enjoy being outside for five or six months of the year, that makes sense.
Every shopping mall that I've seen has a family entertainment center with some sort of bowling alley, video arcade and rides including mini roller coasters and bungee-type rides. There are, of course, movie theaters and food courts as well. They're a place to meet friends in the cafe near the fountain in an outdoor-like atmosphere when going outdoors is impossible. They're a meeting point for young people in a society where meeting others of the opposite gender is very difficult. In other words, shopping malls in Abu Dhabi have become a center of socialization in Emirati culture.
That's not to say that shopping isn't important here. You can find some great stores here, be it Wollworth's or the Ed Hardy store. There's Victoria's Secret, Ikea, Toy's 'R Us, and the Ferrari Store. Also, pretty much any high-end store you could think of is available at a shopping mall somewhere in Abu Dhabi.
Unfortunately, Abu Dhabi's shopping mall technology is vastly behind that of Dubai, almost to an embarrassing degree. In Dubai, from what I could see, an aquarium was a requirement for any shopping mall to be considered legitimate. Then of course there's the gimmick. Dubai has developed the shopping mall inside a pyramid, the shopping mall with a 400 meter indoor ski slope and the shopping mall with a world's tallest building. Sure Abu Dhabi has shopping malls with scenic towers, tiny little ice skating rinks and, by the looks of it, seem to be trying to construct a mini indoor ski slope, but there is an obvious shopping mall technology gap between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.