The city of Dubai is the world’s premier, tax-free shopping destination which attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year. Whether you’re looking to buy gold jewellery or iPhones, designer labels or Persian rugs, it’s the place to go. Its traditional souk markets sell gold, spices, textiles and perfume whilst its shopping malls are home to stores selling pretty much anything you can imagine. There are almost 100 of these malls scattered around the city which serve not only as a shopping paradise but also as leisure centres where visitors will find a multitude of tourist and cultural attractions.
Traditional Shopping Souks
Before visiting the enormous shopping malls of Dubai it’s worth heading for the traditional souk markets which lie on both sides of Dubai Creek. On the south bank in the Bur Dubai district is the Textile Souk where you can buy all kinds of fabrics including fine silk, cotton and cashmere. If you wish, you can ask the tailors surrounding the market to make items of clothing with your chosen material. Hand-woven fabrics and Kashmiri shawls are popular souvenirs to buy at the textile souk.
Crossing to the north bank of Dubai Creek on a traditional wooden boat leads to the Deira district which is home to more of the city’s traditional markets. Just a short stroll from Deira Old Souq Station leads to the Dubai Spice Souk. This colourful and aromatic place is a ‘must-see’ for anyone with an interest in cooking. It seems to be filled with every spice you’ve ever used together with many that you’ve most likely never heard of. Unfortunately, some of the vendors tend to be rather overzealous which can prove rather unpleasant for tourists who are simply browsing the stores.
A little further north is the Dubai Gold Souk and the Deira Gold Souk which are located on a series of narrow streets These markets are made up of an eye-watering number of jewellers selling an unimaginable number of gold items. The gold souk isn’t for the faint-hearted as tourists are constantly hassled by touts as they wander along the streets. Nevertheless a visit is highly recommended as this is one of Dubai’s most authentic tourist attractions. Visitors who decide to buy something from these shops should be prepared to haggle as headline prices shown on items tend to be highly inflated. Unlike the spice souk this bargaining process is usually carried out in a good natured manner.
Nearby is the Deira Perfume Souk where strongly scented shops sell not only branded perfumes but also essential oils and expensive oud-based fragrances. A really personal gift which you can buy here is a perfume which you can have created by the expert perfumers.
Best Shopping Malls in Dubai
Once you’ve experienced the historic souks of Dubai it’s time to head for the modern shopping malls for which the city is so well known. Inevitably your first port of call should be the enormous Dubai Mall which is the world’s largest shopping mall with more than 1300 shops on the premises. In a country which is proud of its record-breaking achievements the Dubai Mall’s claim to fame is that it attracts more than 50 million annual visitors and is the world’s most visited building!
Located below the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall is so much more than a shopping centre. Within its walls visitors will find around 200 restaurants together with all kinds of recreational facilities including an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, a Kidzania entertainment centre and the Dubai Aquarium. Directly outside the mall is the Dubai Fountain where light and music shows every evening are one of Dubai’s top tourist attractions.
Further retail therapy, entertainment and dining facilities are on offer at the Mall of the Emirates. As well as stores representing many of the world’s top brands the mall is home to one of the world’s largest indoor ski parks together with a Magic Planet theme park and an enormous cinema complex. Other centres worth a special mention include Burjuman Mall in Bar Dubai and Dubai Marina Mall which lies alongside some of the city’s finest restaurants.
Getting Back to the Airport: Laden with heavy suitcases after your shopping expedition you should pre-book a private transfer to Dubai International Airport. Shuttledirect provide first-class services to the airport from all hotels as well as meeting incoming flights on arrival.
When to Go Shopping in Dubai
Whilst the air-conditioned shopping malls of Dubai allow shoppers to stay cool all year round the period from November to March tends to offer the most bearable outside temperatures. The month of January is particularly popular with the world’s shopaholics as it is the time of the annual Dubai Shopping Festival when malls throughout the city offer significant discounts on many of their goods. In addition the malls put on all kinds of entertainment including concerts, dance shows, foodie events and firework displays.
Another seasonal shopping attraction is Dubai Global Village which runs from October to April (dates may vary). The site consists of a series of pavilions representing many different countries from around the world. Inside the pavilions visitors can enjoy the cuisine of those countries and buy typical products from them. Such has been the success of this venture that the Global Village now attracts more than 5 million annual visitors.
With so much competition there are quite frequent sales in Dubai’s shopping malls. Specific times of year worth noting include the first week of December which coincides with National Day of the United Arab Emirates (2nd December). This is an ideal opportunity to stock up on some Christmas shopping.
In July there are Dubai Summer Surprises when retailers offer major discounts and entertainment over a six week period. In addition there are significant end of summer sales during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha which takes place for several days during the month of August.
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