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The Mul Hayam (Seaside) mall in Eilat has become the city's biggest attraction. Every Israeli who vacations in Eilat makes at least one stop at the 10,000-square-meter mall.

The mall has the highest sales per meter of any shopping venue in Israel, and ranks with the top sellers worldwide. But it has still suffered from a drop in sales due to the fall in tourism and the recession, though Israelis continue to flock to the mall to save 18 percent on Eilat's VAT exemption.

Industry estimates that the Eilat mall has twice the sales per space of the Ramat Aviv mall in north Tel Aviv, the number two seller in Israel. The Ramat Aviv mall had sales of $720 per square meter per month in 2002, and according to figures from the Business Data Israel company, sales in Eilat reached $1,200 per square meter monthly.

Sales dropped in 2003 to just under $1,000 per month, but sales in malls all over the country were also down. In Ramat Aviv, for instance, sales dropped to $670 per square meter last year.