Dubai is one of the few countries that have recently experienced dramatic growth in the number of tourist attractions. Today, the country boasts of uncountable overwhelming attractions ranging from futuristic architecture and imposing malls to scenic man-made islands and a lively nightlife scene. While these may be the main things that attract tourists from all over the world, your trip to the “city of gold” wouldn’t be complete without doing some shopping. With a thriving economy and favorable policies, Dubai’s shopping scene is currently one of the most seductive in the world. In fact, here is where you will find the world’s biggest shopping mall―the Dubai Mall. However, with so many shops and interesting things to buy, you would easily feel overwhelmed about choosing what to buy in Dubai and bring back home. To make it easier for you, we have compiled this list of the top 10 best things that you should buy if you are planning to visit Dubai in 2020.
Popularly known as “the city of gold”, you will be surprised at the large variety of gold you will find here. When it comes to shopping for gold jewelry, one of the largest gold market in the world (the Dubai Gold Souk) is located in the city’s commercial business district. Here, you will find huge chunks of gold at the most competitive prices compared to most parts of the world.
Dubai also prides itself in having varied exotic spices from every corner of the world. The best place to buy this product is the Spice Souk which is located just adjacent to the Gold Souk. Here is where you will be left tantalized from the aromas of the spices before you even enter the shops. Inside, you will find hundreds of both familiar and unfamiliar spices that you can get at pretty affordable prices.
Although dry fruits may not be ridiculously inexpensive compared to other parts of the world, the ones you will find here are of exceptional quality. You will come across numerous vendors in the city selling all kinds of high quality dried fruits with pretty packaging. Don’t leave without tickling your taste buds with the Saudi Arabian dates which are undeniably the most popular dry fruits in Dubai.
If you are from the US or Europe then you might not be very familiar with camel milk. Just like in the other Arabian countries, camel milk products are a specialty in Dubai. Try out camel milk as a drink or in chocolate and strawberry form and I assure you that you will like it. The camel milk products not only serve as wonderful treats but also make for an interesting gift that you can carry back home.
Arabic Style Carpets
These are without a doubt one of the most popular and cherished gifts anyone can buy from Dubai. The Arabian carpets are world-renowned and come in several designs and sizes. Most of them come in earthy colors with slightly darker hues of brown, red and tan. To make them exceptional, they are uniquely decorated with Arabian patterns.
Perfume Holders or Stands
You will also find an incredible variety of perfumes and perfume holders in Dubai. The best part is that you can even create your own custom made fragrance to match that of your loved one’s tastes. There are also classic perfume stands that are perfectly created from crystal and glass. The perfume holders come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Perfume stands feature gold bases that have very intricate carvings that are sometimes embellished with semi-precious stones.
Designer clothes and accessories
With the largest shopping mall in the world, Dubai features numerous shopping malls that are filled with hundreds of stalls and high-end boutiques. In any occasion, you will come across several outlets belonging to the world’s most renowned clothing and footwear brands. What’s more, the malls even host several shopping festivals which you can attend for great discounts on designer clothes.
In Dubai, it is common to smell very strong exotic scents when you walk past the Arabian women. This is because most women here use Attar, an oil that is made by distilling flower petals in the water while applying mild pressure and heat.
Arabian Coffee and Coffee Pot
If you are a coffee lover then you know that not all coffee tastes the same. In Dubai, Arabica Coffee is a culinary tradition just like in any other Arabian country. This variety of coffee usually tastes quite bitter and is often served with a sweet treat to achieve a balanced flavor. To give you an ultimate Arabic coffee drinking experience, you should buy a copper Arabic coffee pot. Apart from daily coffee use, these pots which are popularly known as “dallah” also serve as decorative pieces.
Since Dubai is well known for jewelry, it makes it the best place to buy inexpensive jewel chests. You will find beautiful and intricately carved jewel chests that are made of sandalwood and further enhanced with silver and other precious stones. The chests are available in a wide variety of avatars that you will be spoilt for choice.
Shopping Tips in Dubai
Dubai’s shopping culture is a blend of tradition and modernity, and it’s important to understand and respect the local customs while indulging in retail therapy.
Dress Modestly: While Dubai is cosmopolitan, it’s still a part of the UAE, where modest dress is appreciated. In malls, you can wear casual Western attire, but when visiting traditional areas or mosques, dressing conservatively is essential.
Friday is the New Sunday: The weekend in Dubai falls on Friday and Saturday, with many stores opening later in the morning on Friday due to the Friday prayer. Plan your shopping accordingly.
Bargaining: Haggling is a common practice in traditional souks like the Gold Souk and Spice Souk. Don’t be shy to negotiate for a better price, but do so respectfully and with a smile.
Dubai is renowned for its extravagant malls, where you can find global luxury brands, entertainment, and fine dining. To make the most of your mall experience, follow these tips:
The Dubai Mall: The largest mall in the world, Dubai Mall is a must-visit. Wear comfortable shoes because you might find yourself walking a considerable distance. Make sure to check out the world-famous Dubai Aquarium and the mesmerizing Fountain Show.
Mall of the Emirates: This mall boasts Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort, and a host of luxury brands. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting on weekdays.
Outlet Malls: For budget shoppers, Dubai has several outlet malls like Dubai Outlet Mall and Outlet Village, where you can score discounts on designer brands.
VAT Refund: If you’re a tourist, don’t forget to claim your Value Added Tax (VAT) refund. Keep your shopping receipts and visit the Tax-Free counter at the airport to get a portion of your spending back.
To truly experience Dubai’s cultural heritage and find unique treasures, explore the traditional souks:
Gold Souk: As you wander through the narrow streets of the Gold Souk in Deira, be prepared to be dazzled by the sheer amount of gold on display. Remember to haggle for the best price, and don’t be afraid to compare offerings at different shops.
Spice Souk: Engage your senses in the Spice Souk, where you’ll find aromatic herbs, spices, and traditional remedies. The shopkeepers are usually friendly and will often offer you samples.
Textile Souk: Located in Bur Dubai, this souk is a haven for fabric enthusiasts. You can find exquisite silks, embroidered fabrics, and more. Bargaining is expected here as well.
Perfume Souk: Discover unique Arabian scents and perfumes in this delightful souk. You can even create your custom fragrance. Be prepared to negotiate for the best deals.
Dubai isn’t just about malls and souks; it’s also about exploring local markets and hidden gems:
Alserkal Avenue: This vibrant arts and cultural district in Al Quoz offers a refreshing break from mainstream shopping. Explore art galleries, boutique shops, and trendy cafes.
Ripe Market: Held on weekends, the Ripe Market is a farmer’s market where you can find fresh produce, artisanal products, and handmade crafts. It’s a great place to experience Dubai’s community spirit.
Dragon Mart: If you’re interested in affordable Chinese goods and electronics, Dragon Mart is the place to be. It’s massive, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a shopping adventure.
Shopping in Dubai also involves adhering to certain etiquette and practical tips:
Respect the Culture: Dubai is a diverse city, and it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions. Avoid public displays of affection and dress modestly, especially in religious areas.
Credit Cards: Most places in Dubai accept credit cards, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases and in case you visit markets where cash is preferred.
Tipping: Tipping is customary in Dubai, and it’s a way to show appreciation for good service. Usually, 10-15% of the bill is acceptable.
Shopping Festivals: Dubai hosts annual shopping festivals with incredible discounts and promotions. If you plan your trip around these events, you can make some great bargains.