Dubai Shopping Guide
Dubai is a shopping paradise. The tonnes of goods passing through its busy port and the low taxes ensure that practically anything from all around the world is available at extremely competitive rates.
Here's a useful tip: Always remember to haggle in the souks, as prices and discounts are usually negotiable. Don't be surprised when you will be unknowingly lured into the game of haggling because it can be fun. A simple question of "what's your best price?" will often result in a shop-keeper going to extreme lengths to clear his inventory.
Prices in the shopping malls and other Western shops are usually not to be negotiable. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because it allows the smarter visitors to work out comparative prices for common souvenirs - a helpful aid when a shop-keeper in a souk is asking for a higher price.
Dubai Shopping Festival has been the biggest shopping event in the Middle East for almost 11 years. Practically every shop wouldn't miss this sale event out and it starts from 24 January to 24 February.
Let's take a look at a few popular markets in Dubai.
Gold Souks - Not a shopping mall, but a market that has a long history and a part of Dubai since the origin of Dubai itself. Located at the mouth of the creek, it dazzles people by selling jewelleries in large quantities and surprisingly with little visible security. It's a must visit for die-hard shoppers and visitors. Most of the gold is of 22ct quality, the craftsmanship is remarkably detailed and the price can be quite steep although the shopkeepers are prepared to slash prices. All the gold and jewelleries are sold by weight metric with a "service charge" added on top to cover the workmanship. It pays, therefore, to go shopping well-informed with the current gold price and knowledge of the workmanship charges in order know what price to bargain for. Many shops are part of reputable chains that also have branches in malls, so they are generally reliable.
Spice Souks - Similar to Gold Souk, it is an old market and not far from the Gold Souk. However, it has declined a little in recent years as supermarkets take over the spice trade. If you're looking for spices, chances are you'll get better prices and quality with much less hassle at Carrefour. Both the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk are a rather scorching and sweaty experience with limited air-conditioning, so it's a good idea to wear cool, thin clothing if you are visiting in midsummer. Although these souks are often visited by tourists, none of the souks are considered and supposed to be a tourist attraction by the locals and as such you should not dress provocatively so that it would not be offensive or attracting unwanted attention.
If you would prefer to stay indoors for a cooling shopping experience, you can visit the Deira City Centre. This is the most popular mall in Dubai and visitors usually would visit it before they leave Dubai. There are Carrefour, Virgin Megastore, Zara, Prada and other well-known international classy brands. For chilling out, there is a Sofitel hotel at one end of the centre, where there are bars and restaurants serving alcohol. Dubai shopping directory.