Recognised worldwide as being a Utopia for shopaholics, Dubai is the perfect destination for travelers wanting to go on a first-class shopping spree. There is so much to buy and such a sheer abundance of beautiful shopping malls that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
A city catering for all tastes and budgets; from the biggest high street brands and niche luxury boutiques to vintage wares, from one-off speciality stores to exclusive designer gear, from flea markets to plentiful shopping malls, you will find it all in Dubai. With shopping being everyone’s favourite leisurely activity, travelers are spoilt for choice with where they’d prefer to get their fix of retail therapy. In fact travelers who love to shop should be wise to carry along an empty suitcase on their Dubai flight.
Enlisted here are top ten shopping destinations in Dubai to indulge in and to carry a tiny part of Dubai back home. Ok, deep breath, here goes.
1. The Dubai Mall
Located in the heart of Downtown Dubai, defined as ‘The Centre of Now,’ is The Dubai Mall – the world’s largest and most-visited shopping and entertainment destination. The Dubai Mall is a huge 1.1 million square meter shopping center, with over 1,200 stores, 160 food and beverage outlets covering more than 800,000 square meters in the heart of a new urban complex built around an artificial lake. In addition to a great shopping experience, it offers exceptional recreational attractions such as an aquarium, indoor ski resort, fountain, dinosaur skeleton and much more.
The shops are on all levels, knowing that the lowest level is rather devoted to restaurants, supermarkets and souvenir shops. The top floor is less textile-oriented, with electronics, home stores, a large Kinokuniya bookstore that offers books, magazines and various media mainly in English and Arabic, and also in many other languages. The major jewelers are located primarily on the ground floor, and upscale fashion boutiques are located at Fashion Avenue. One of the mall’s unique zone is an open-air streetscape; The Village that offers a rich collection of denim brands and brings an outdoor community feel with tree-lined walkways, cafés and restaurants.
2. Al Fahidi Street
Located at Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi Street is one of the biggest electronic markets in Dubai. The Street is lined with a mix of shops selling Indian clothing, shoes and jewelry along with other places stacked high with mobile phones and fancy accessories. This street is best for buying mobiles, laptops and cameras at very low prices. Home appliances like ovens, refrigerators, and washing machines are also available here. This street turns to its peak during the night. Travelers can shop on this street daily from 10 am till 12 am and on Friday from 4 pm to 12 am. Al Fahidi Street is often compared to Las Vegas, USA which is famous for its vibrant nightlife.
3. Mall of the Emirates
Vacation, relaxation, and fun times; this is exactly what the Mall of the Emirates offers to travelers – a fun and relaxing shopping experience that is set apart from other malls in Dubai. Once you enter the mall, you might never want to leave! Home to more than 630 international stores including department stores, fashion, lifestyle, sports, electronics, home furnishing outlets, over 100 restaurants and cafés and a unique family leisure offering, this mall is highly visited by all tourists and locals. Apart from being a shopper’s paradise, it houses the largest indoor leisure park in the Middle East, a cinema complex and even… a winter sports resort!
4. Deira Gold Souk
Souk (or Souq) means market in Arabic. Located in Dubai’s commercial business district in Deira, Gold Souk, is a traditional market with lanes and lanes of shops with eye-popping designs of gold jewellery, gemstones crafted into ornaments and everything from spice to perfumes and textiles. The most popular of all the Dubai Souks is the Gold Souk, as, if there is one thing that Dubai is famous for is GOLD. In fact a Dubai holiday tour is incomplete without a trip to the famous Gold Souk market. The souk consists of over 300 retailers and at least 10 tons of gold in this market. World renowned for their authenticity, reasonable prices and wide selection of jewellery, this is the best place in the UAE to purchase gold.
5. Ibn Battuta Mall
It is the world’s largest themed shopping centre, inspired by an explorer of the same name Ibn Battuta, who spent 29 years travelling through the Middle East and Asia. The layout of the mall is unique in that, it is divided into six highly individual courts, each based on the countries Ibn Battuta visited during his travels: China, India, Egypt, Tunisia, Persia and Andalusia. There are many beautifully decorated ceilings, sculptures, boats and mini displays throughout the mall. At Ibn Battuta Mall, shopping, dining and entertainment blend naturally with history, culture and the story of a remarkable adventure, making them one of Dubai’s most exciting shopping and retail destinations. In fact, shopping in the mall offers a good mixture of well-known brand names, international fashion and individual retailers with over 270 shops.
6. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, the shopping hot spot of Dubai, is loved by all shopaholics. The shopping venue, designed like a Bedouin Labyrinth, features meandering streets lined with shopping, entertainment and food outlets. It includes over 75 shops, numerous bars, restaurants and cafes, a nightclub and theatre. This recreation of an ancient market is recommended for those who prefer a friendlier and more peaceful atmosphere while choosing among common market wares like Arab handicrafts, jewelry, souvenir items, local delicacies, exotic spices, high-end designer clothes, perfumed scents, and so on; the shopping possibilities are limitless in Souk Madinat. Travelers can purchase items from all over the Middle East – from Turkish plates to Persian carpets – you’re bound to find something you love. Also, it is an ideal venue to savour Dubai nightlife over delicious food and drink as the vibrancy of this place is as equally good as others.
7. Bur Dubai Souk
Bur Dubai Souk attracts tourists for its cultural significance and traditional essence. From kitsch souvenirs and coloured lanterns, to silk pashminas and woven carpets, there is an amazing assortment of cultural curios spilling out of the myriad stalls here. One can weave through the covered walkways and feel the beauty of top grade velvet, silk, satin, cashmere, or wool. Among the most popular items at the textile souk are the Indian saris, Kashmir pashminas, Persian carpets, and the local traditional abayas. The souk also has faux leather bags, street food, antique shops where you can buy old bank notes and coins from other countries, colorful weaved fabrics, shoes, and most especially, encounter pushy vendors that will invite you to come with them in their “hidden” boutique. If you want cheap finds and souvenir items, Bur Dubai Souk is definitely the place. Popular items include “Aladdin shoes”, Dubai t-shirts, and Burj Khalifa souvenirs. To make the most of it, travelers can in between shopping also hop aboard a wooden abra, a traditional boat, which will ferry them across the creek to enjoy the views of the historic waterway.
8. Global Village
Being the nation’s biggest shopping arena, Global Village is one of the most popular multi-cultural festival parks and a family destination for culture, shopping and entertainment which takes place every year in an open-air theme park. It is associated with the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), although the Global Village event opens before DSF and runs longer than DSF. From November through April each year, this entertainment and shopping destination is open all 161 days and hosts over 70 participating countries, presented in 36 pavilions, with more than 50 fun rides and 26 restaurants offering cuisines from across the globe. The pavilions represent various countries from around the world, selling trinkets, clothes, food, electronics, antique items, carpets and just any other item, which represents each culture and country worldwide. Travelers can lay their hands on a plethora of items that are otherwise unseen in the UAE. Apart from shopping, daily performances vary from concerts, stunt shows, street shows, to international cultural presentations. Families and kids can head to Fantasy Island, and choose among the fun rides like the Ferris wheel and rollercoaster. If you seek a more exciting experience, try out one of the thrill rides like Reverse Bungee and Vortex. Additionally from just housing the pavilions of various countries, the Global Village accommodates shuttle transport services, restaurants and massive parking areas.
9. Wafi Mall
Wafi Mall is among the older malls of Dubai, but its architectural genius is what should attract you in. The building is home to three pyramids that provide the mall with natural light throughout the day. The mall houses over 300 stores, many of which are internationally branded outlets such as Chanel, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Iceberg, Jaegar, Graff, Chopard, Links of London, Mont Blanc and Topshop, restaurants, cafes, bars and a fantastic spa and leisure club. You’ll find the Khan Murjan Souk, an attempt to recreate a 14th century souk in the middle of a mall. In the souk end of the mall, you’ll find spice merchants and rug salesmen, as well as little coffee shops where you can sit and watch the crowds. Kids and teenagers who are easily bored of shopping, can hang out at the Encounter Zone; a supervised entertainment area, spread over 80,000 square metres and featuring two areas of leisure and fun.
10. Dubai Spice Souk
Dubai Spice Souk is a traditional market in the heart of the old town that dates back to more than 50 years. This market is also called the Grand Souq, Deira Old Souq or Deira Spice Souq as it is located in Deira next to the Gold Souq. Overflowing piles of colorful rose buds, nuts and dried herbs line the narrow streets and the smell of spices fills the air. Extending from kitchen flavors to therapeutic herbs, to the sweet noticing frankincense and shisha, to the best quality dried natural products to even hair oils, almost every kind of spice and herb used in Arabic and South Asian food is available at this atmospheric souk, a must-visit for any tourist. There’s twisted, yellow turmeric root, chillies, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, sumac and rarer spices such as sunflower extract, mace and nutmeg. And – one of the most expensive spices in the world – saffron, perfect for adding a rich yet subtle flavour to curries, biryani (flavoured rice) and desserts. The spices are sold whole and dried as well as in powdered form. The Spice Souk also sells Oud (agarwood) perfumes, nuts and dried fruits, and other quintessentially Arabian souvenirs such as pashminas and embroidered artifacts.
Exciting much? Every souvenir, art piece, sartorial or a memento, however small it may be, embrace the art and practice of that individual land in their own way. Along with shopping you can also fill your trip with sights and adventures in Dubai and with the simple online Dubai visa process, travelling to Dubai has never been easier.