Nothing can quite compare to shopping in Dubai. In a single day you might haggle for pashminas, spices and Arabian coffee pots in a traditional souk; check out the latest designer brands, like Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari and Cartier; or visit a mega shopping mall complete with an indoor ski slope, or gondolas plying up and down artificial waterways.
Dubai is home to some of the world’s largest and glitziest shopping malls, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you could spend. However, Dubai is also a paradise for bargain hunters.
Dubai’s best bargains
Getting the best bargains in Dubai is about knowing where to go – and may involve putting your haggling skills to good use.
One of the best ways to get bargains on everything, from knock-off designer clothes to craft items and gold jewellery, is to head for one of Dubai’s souks. These are the closest you’ll get to traditional Arabian open-air markets in Dubai, complete with colourful piles of wares and zealous vendors. Hard but polite bargaining is a must.
At the gold souk, you’ll find gold in every hue, shape and form, with pieces in both traditional and modern designs. You’ll also find stalls selling fabrics, shoes and other goods. The souk is near the Dubai Creek in the Al Ras area of Deira.
Spices and perfume souks
Not far from the gold souk, you’ll find the spices souk, complete with piled up aromatic spices of every type and colour. Also on offer are dates, dried fruits and nuts, teas and coffees, perfumes and pottery. Also nearby is the perfume souk, with magnificent perfume bottles and stoppered bottles of perfume and perfumed oils.
The textile souk, also known as the “Old Souk” or “Cosmo Souk”, is in Bur Dubai, not far from the Dubai Museum. This is the place for gorgeous fabrics and Indian saris, along with t-shirts and souvenirs.
Bargain malls and shopping centres
Al Karama shopping centre
The Al Karama is a warren of alleyways containing rustic looking shops. It’s famous in Dubai as the place to go for knock-off and fake designer goods, from fashionable shoes and bags to watches and suitcases. It’s also one of the best places to look for Middle Eastern artefacts, ranging from Aladdin-style lamps and Arabian coffee pots, to chunky Bedouin jewellery and embroidered Indian table cloths and cushion covers.
Deira Mall is a standard mall but with very reasonable prices, especially on electronics equipment. It’s also a good place to pick up high-quality gifts and souvenirs, for less than you’ll pay elsewhere.
Dubai Festival City Mall
Not far from the airport, Dubai Festival City Mall is similar to Deira Mall but with more emphasis on fashion. It also has an enormous Ikea store.
Luxurious Dubai shopping malls
Dubai Mall, right alongside the Burj Khalifa, is simply gargantuan, with over 1,200 shops. As well as every major fashion brand you can think of, the mall houses an ice rink, an aquarium, the biggest cinema complex in the Middle East and its own gold “souk.” It also includes KidZania, an award-winning children’s “edutainment” area.
Mall of the Emirates
The glittering Mall of the Emirates is just slightly smaller than Dubai Mall, and includes a similar mix of boutiques and department stores, cinemas, art galleries and restaurants. It’s also home to Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort complete with real snow, slopes, tobogganing and ski lifts!
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
One of Dubai’s most luxurious shopping malls, Souk Madinat Jumeirah is modeled after a traditional souk. The mall however has air conditioning, steeper prices and higher quality goods, as well as relaxing waterways and a wide range of restaurants, cafés and bars. Among the items to look for here are Persian carpets, Kashmiri fabrics, well-made handicrafts, and jewellery and leather goods.
Mall of Arabia
About to eclipse all other malls, at least in terms of size, is Dubai’s Mall of Arabia. This mall, which is being developed as part of a massive “Dubailand” entertainment complex, is due to span a mind-boggling 10 million square feet. Among other attractions, it will include an indoor theme park, a waterfront area, an earth science museum, a planetarium and its own monorail system, which will link up with Dubai Metro.