Shopping is undoubtedly one of the Dubai’s greatest draw cards, with the city often regarded as the ‘Shopping Capital of the Middle East’.
The souks, or traditional markets, are one of Dubai’s greatest attractions. They are located on both sides of the Dubai Creek, with the most impressive on the Deira side.
Dubai’s souks offer an atmospheric shopping experience with sights, sounds and aromas that hint of yesteryear. The Spice Souk, Al-Sabkha Road, is more of a tourist attraction, while the buzzing Gold Souk, Sikkat al-Khali Street, offers some great deals on gold necklaces, rings, bangles, earrings and brooches, with gold prices among the lowest in the world. The gold souks are strictly regulated, so there is little chance of customers being ripped off in terms of quality, although prices do vary greatly and bargaining is essential.
The Electronics Souk, near Beniyas Square, might sound a slightly incongruous idea but this is Dubai, which means that, with shopping, anything goes.
The gargantuan Mall of the Emirates has been usurped in size by the largest mall in the world, Dubai Mall, which opened at the end of 2008 in a space equivalent to over 50 soccer fields.
After an initially cautious start, Dubai Mall is now buzzing with 1,200 retail outlets, a 22-screen Cineplex, 160 food options, 220 gold and jewellery outlets, an Olympic-sized ice-skating rink and a Hamley’s toy store.
The best-value items at the large shopping malls are mainly electrical goods and designer clothing, although interesting local products include carpets, Bedouin jewellery and Arabian souvenirs.
Mirdif City Center Mall, barely 15 minutes from Deira City Centre, has opened its doors with 430 shops and larger emphasis on leisure (i-FLY, Aquaplay) than some of its counterparts.
Established malls are remodelling their services in the face of new competition.
Deira City Centre, for example, located not far from Dubai Intenational Airport, has opened 18 new convenience and service-oriented stores in the Metro Link, which starts from the mall entrance by the Dubai Metro station, providing 1,680sq m (18,083sq ft) of additional retail space. The shopping centre’s large cinema facilities, Carrefour hypermarket, food court, coffee shops and numerable small stores cater for a range of budgets and ages.
If you’re looking for a shopping experience beyond the malls, Global Village, located off the Emirates Road highway that skirts around the city, offers more than 30 pavilions which blend retail, art and entertainment. In 2011, this included a dancing fountain show, water screen and global cultural theatre.
Dubai’s shops are rarely closed although Friday morning is the one exception, when most stores are shut as it’s the holy day. Larger malls are open 1000-2200 and often even later during festival periods. Dubai’s souks are open Saturday-Thursday 0700-1200 and 1700-1900, and Friday from1700-1900.
Spices, gold, designer wear and electronics goods are among the popular souvenirs purchased in Dubai.
There is no sales tax in Dubai and the airport is renowned for having one of the finest duty-free opportunities in the world.
This is open to both arriving and departing passengers.