Dubai is synonymous with shopping; there is nothing you cannot buy when shopping in Dubai. From gold to electronics, designer labels and luxury items, the emirate is packed with huge shopping malls built side-by-side with older souks, where small shop owners sell everything from spices to clothing to carpets and rugs. Goods in Dubai are available from all over the world including Turkey, Iran, India and China.
Shopping is almost a national past time here in Dubai for locals, visitors and residents alike. In the hot summer months, when temperatures can go above 50 degrees, shopping malls provide a refuge from the intense heat outside. Most malls offer a whole lot more than just shops; they have great dining options as well as plenty of entertainment for children including aquariums and themed parks inside the mall!!
Dubai is also famous for its many shopping festivals, which are worth a mention here. The most well known that attracts thousands of shoppers from across the world is the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which kicks off every year in January and goes on for a month. In addition to the shopping and thousands of prizes, this internationally acclaimed festival showcases the best of several sectors from concerts, events, fashion shows and outdoor sports. Another annual event that has put Dubai on the world map is the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), which runs for a month at the beginning of summer in Dubai. The DSS is very popular with residents of the emirate for its shopping deals and fun activities designed for the whole family.
Apart from these festivals, year round shopping attracts visitors from all over the world. Depending on what you are looking for, below are the seven most popular and varied shopping destinations for visitors and residents alike.
Dubai Shopping Mall
Even with the multitude of malls available in Dubai, the Dubai Mall still provides one of the most complete shopping experiences. Not just a mall, this mini-city is home to over a thousand stores, a spectacular four-storey indoor waterfall, a huge aquarium, an Olympic size ski-rink and a staggering number of food outlets. The mall is designed with the most luxurious of finishes and houses brands from across Europe and the US including Galleries Lafayette and the first Bloomingdale’s outside the US. It is also hugely popular for the Dubai Fountains, which are beautifully designed to move to music.
Deira Gold Souk
The Dubai Gold Souk is lined with hundreds of shops selling gold; everything from gold jewelry to gold bars at some of the best bargains in the world can be found here. There is an old souk scattered with gold shops and a new souk in a more modern 2-storey building very close to each other. Leave plenty of time when visiting these souks as you will need to hop from shop to shop to see the variety available and to get the cheapest rates. Don’t hesitate to bargain; most shops sell the same items so feel free to tell them that you saw the same item at another shop for a better price and you will possibly get a good deal. Also, take your time when making your selection as there is a huge variety of items to choose from. Most gold shops will charge a fee for purchases made with a credit card.
Located off the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road (previously known as the Emirates Road), the Global Village is a shopping festival that features pavilions from all across the world. Its carnival-like atmosphere attracts visitors from late November through to the end of February and features daring stunts and shows from international artists. Each pavilion showcases artifacts and items from their country. If you wait for the last week of the event, it is possible that you could get heavy discounts on some items.
Al Fahidi Street
Since Dubai is a tax-free country, electronics are much cheaper here than in other parts of the world. Al Fahidi Street is lined with electronic shops that sell computers, laptops, cameras as well as household electronics like ovens, refrigerators and washing machines. When buying electronics here, make sure to ask for an international warranty and to check voltage requirements if you are planning on taking anything back to your home country.
Bur Dubai Souk
Famous for its collection of colorful fabrics and textiles, mostly from India and the Far East, the Bur Dubai souk runs along the Dubai creek. Parking is always a problem here, although there are a few pay and park lots that might have some parking. Although not very pleasing to the eye, this souk is worth exploring if you are looking to buy exotic fabrics. The surrounding streets are brimming with jewelry stores, tailoring shops and sari shops and this is the place to go to if you are looking to buy fabric and have it tailored to your specifications.
Karama Shopping Center
If you are looking to take gifts back for family or mementos of your visit to Dubai, souvenirs sold at the Karama Shopping Center are much more reasonable than those available at more expensive malls. Although nothing much to look at, the shopping center is bustling with shops that sell imitation watches, knock off designer clothing and handicrafts and souvenirs from the region. Be aware that most of the clothes available are manufactured in Asia so sizes are likely to be small.
Most tourists bypass this relatively quiet mall in favor of some of the bigger malls Dubai has on offer. However, this newly renovated mall has some lovely regional boutique stores apart from some of the more famous ones like Chanel and Givenchy. The Souk Khan Murjan, located in the basement of the mall has an eclectic collection of beautiful lamps and artifacts from the Arab region. The mall is also home to the Wafi Gourmet, Dubai’s best known gourmet deli counter packed with local fare including pickles, pepper, cheeses and olives.
The above list is but a sampling of what Dubai has to offer; it is no wonder that this city is a shopping paradise with much to offer the visitor as well as those who live here. Knowing where to go for specific purchases can help save valuable time when shopping in Dubai.