Dubai is a great all-round holiday destination. Grab yourself a hotel like Jumeirah Beach Hotel and you can enjoy beach resort lifestyle in the big city. For anyone who loves to shop, Dubai can seem like a paradise. Endless malls, all the world’s best brands, hidden treasures, and plenty of bargains make Dubai a popular shopping destination. In fact, many visitors to the city come with the sole intention to shop. Before you hit the stores though, it is good to understand the layout of the Dubai shopping scene.
Malls in Dubai are impressive. In such a hot desert climate, walking on the streets half the year is near impossible and the shopping malls offer a nice cool escape. Locals use the malls for much more than shopping though as you will quickly learn. Two of the most impressive malls in Dubai include the Mall of the Emirates, where you can ski indoors, and The Dubai Mall, with a giant aquarium and even a theme park inside.
As far as shopping goes, the Dubai malls are best for finding popular name brand products from around the world. The best French perfumes can be found for cheaper here than in Paris thanks to the no tax rule and local luxury brands from designers like Raghda Bukhash will blow you away.
If you want a more traditional shopping experience, head to any of Dubai’s many souqs. These Middle Eastern-style bazaars have thankfully survived the real estate boom in Dubai and still have the hustle and bustle feeling of a real, everyday market. They are also a great place to score a bargin since haggling here is completely acceptable.
The most popular souqs for visitors to Dubai are usually the Spice or Gold Souqs. You can find an incredible arrange of spices and other cooking ingredients at the Spice Souq with saffron often being the best bargain. At the Gold Souqs you can find nice prices on gold jewelry or just about anything else that glitters. Other great souqs include the textile souqs where you can find some of the best carpets, from fine Persian carpets to knotted Bedouin rugs. If you are planning on buying a carpet, take in the whole experience by lingering in the shop, enjoying the offered tea, and discussing the various qualities and details of the carpets.
If you are planning a trip to Dubai solely for the shopping, make sure you schedule your trip during one of the yearly shopping festivals. People arrive from around the world during these festivals to take advantage of the amazing deals and special events.
The original shopping festival, the Dubai Shopping Festival, usually takes place in January when temperatures are perfect. All the major malls hold special events and nearly every shop in town is offering special discounted prices. The festival became so popular that the city created a second version in the summer – the Dubai Summer Surprises.
What to Buy
Dubai use to be a great place to score bargains on electronics but that is not really the case anymore. Instead, to find the best deals, focus on items that are made in the Middle East. Carpets in Dubai are some of the best priced in the Middle East and spices are also a great deal. Real silk pashminas can be found for great prices and make the perfect gift for moms, girlfriends, or wives. Dates from Dubai are famous, being sold in fancy shops and packages in real-wood gift boxes. The best dates are usually the ones from Bateel and if you happen to find agwa dates, buy them! The agwa trees only produce the fruit every few years and the agwa dates are highly priced.