Cake, gold and champers: The UAE's wildest vending machines
A collection of seriously mind-bending vending…
The vending machine, as a format for buying stuff, has pretty much spent its entire existence as a desperation snack stop. Insert coins, push buttons and select your dubiously nutritional food item.
But the UAE looked beyond that reflective image in the glass. It shook the concept of vending machines so enthusiastically, that what dropped down into the grab bin below were ideas of truly ‘extra’ proportions. These are just a few of our favourites.
We feel like this might be Dubai’s spirit vending machine. Yes, thanks to the novelty Gold to Go ATMs you’ll never be caught without casual bullion again. These machines allow you to buy anything from a 2.5-gram, 24-karat gold coin to a wasta flex one-ounce gold bar. There’s even an internal computer capable of updating the prices every 10 minutes to reflect realtime fluctuations in the market.
At one stage there were multiple machines across the UAE from Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi to the Observation Deck of the Burj Khalifa. We know at least one unit remains in Atlantis The Palm.
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Cup Cake ATM is essentially a luxe vending machine that gives you access to Instalicious muffins 24 hours a day, and that sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. You’ll find this first UAE location at Marsana, on Hudayriyat Island’s Leisure and Entertainment District. In terms of variety, you really can have your cake and eat it, which is only fair. The pistachio and Nutella cake definitely has some big UAE energy (although not ideal for those with nut allergies) about it; there’s an Oreo cookie cupcake; a safron variety; Lotus cupcakes (because of course); blueberry; red velvet; carrot cupcakes; and more.
If, like Joseph Jonas, you fancy some cake by the ocean — it’s yours from as little as Dhs19 (for the Oreo cake). The pricier options, safron and pistachio Nutella, are only fractionally more at Dhs21. @cupcake_atm
One finds this vending machine in the location one might expect to find this vending machine, at Dubai Opera of course darling *readjusts monocle*. A bit parched midway through the matinee? No problem, exit stage right for some mini bottle popping bubbly fun. The machine serves up precision chilled bottles of a certain well known premium brand of bubbles for around Dhs140. At that price, it’s unlikely to be the cheapest bottle of pop you’ll have dropped from a vend, but we all have to make sacrifices for the ‘gram right?
Dubai Opera, Downtown, Tel: (04) 440 8888, @dubaiopera
Beauty products – (Probably Gone)
Full ‘fession — we searched high and low for this slap-contraption at its alleged Sunset Mall location but we couldn’t find the Huda Beauty cosmetics vending machine. Possibly because it’s not there anymore. Possibly because of our dad level ‘looking for things’ skills. But when it first landed back in 2015, it was catching all the headlines for letting you pick up faddish beauty trends on the go (2015 was peak massive-surprised-face-eyebrows if we remember correctly), and presumably not dropping powder palettes from any great height. @hudabeauty.
Laptops – (definitely gone)
Originally Located inside Sharaf DG’s flagship store at Times Square Centre, but now retired, this vending machine was one of the largest in the world, stocked with laptops, tablets, cameras and phones. Items were dispensed and handed to the customer using a robotic arm and you could walk away with a shiny, new computer in less than a minute. Sadly it looks like this was one step of vending innovation the world just wasn’t ready to take. We clearly still collectively value the advice of those super keen shop floor sales clerks when we’re dropping a couple of thousand dirhams on electronic items.
Sharaf DG, Times Square Centre, Dubai, Tel: (600) 502 034, @sharafdgonline
Images: What’s On Archive/GoldToGo Instagram