Where to Shop, What to buy in Dubai
Dubai’s reputation as a shopper’s paradise extends to many aspects of the city’s bustling commercial life. One area where this is especially evident is that shopping centres serve both a regional and tourist - rather than purely local - market.
Dubai’s retail trade encompasses traditional souk (market) shopping - where bargaining is very much the order of the day - and modern purpose-built shopping plazas.
The emirate is teeming with shopping malls and each mall reveals a different theme and experience. The sprawling expanse of the malls, the innovative architecture, the designer boutiques, top brands, vast product range from haute couture to the latest gadgets and gizmos and an endless choice of restaurants and cafes allow visitors the option of passing an entire day within the premises of a single shopping complex. The Souk Madinat inside the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, for example, boasts its own waterway to transfer people from its shops, bars and restaurants to the neighboring clutch of hotels. The gargantuan Mall of the Emirates has an indoor ski slope with real snow, should you fancy a quick slalom between shopping and hitting the beach.
Existing alongside modern marvels such as the shopping malls, are the traditional markets, also known as the souks. With their historic structures still in place and restored to meet the demands of the present day, Dubai‘s different souks may vary in their offerings and character, but are all alive with the buzz of trade and the spirit of a strong and traditional past.
A visit to the souk, alive with noise, crowds and atmosphere, is a memorable experience, especially at night, when a myriad of neon lights act as beacons, guiding the uninitiated through a maze of alleyways and encouraging potential customers to sample wares and indulge in good-natured bargaining.
This is a small community much resembling a town, its streets are rowed by textile shops notably opposite the Satwa Mosque ending to the opposite of Satwa clinic. Most of the people flock to Satwa for their textiles, you might sometimes catch offers and discounts but if you don't do so try bargaining the price, this is what most locals do, even if you're a tourist convince the salesman to give you a discount, bargain till you get the lowest price available. Not only Satwa is a hub for textile shops, some tailoring shops on the corners are also found if you want a dress made as soon as possible after purchasing the raw materials. Raw silk might also be available in some shops.
Not a mall, but a historic market that has been a part of Dubai since the origin of Dubai itself. Located at the mouth of the creek, it dazzles people by selling gold in large quantities and with little visible security. A must visit for shoppers and sightseers. Most of the gold is 22ct quality and quite expensive - although even here the shopkeepers are prepared to bargain - and the craftsmanship can be remarkably detailed.
The Dubai Mall
It has over 1200 shops of brand names from all over the world. It is currently the largest mall in the world. Contains an indoor ice rink and indoor aquarium. It is right next door to the Burj Khalifah, the world's tallest building, and the visitors' entrance to the Burj Khalifah is located at the lower ground floor of the Mall.
Mercato, which is Italian for Market, is the only Renaissance-themed shopping mall in the Middle East. It captures Italian, French and Spanish flavors and artistic characteristics playing host to regular fairs and festivals from each country. Mercato provides a unique shopping experience, the best in international entertainment and popular brand names like Virgin Megastore, Top Shop, Mango and Hugo Boss.
The Dubai shopping scene offers something for everyone. Apart from competitively-priced electronics products, watches, cameras and other international items, popular traditional gifts include:
- Arabic coffee pots.
- Silver and brass swords and khanjars (Arabic curved daggers).
- Prayer beads.
- Soapstone figures.
- Coasters, letter racks, jewellery boxes, chests etc, decorated with lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite and other semi-precious stones.
- Marble goblets.
- Antique silver jewellery.
- Brass items.
- Silver and wooden miniature dhows.
- Persian carpets and cotton dhurries (oblong floor coverings).
- Inlaid rosewood and walnut furniture.