Dubai is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations – and the only place on the planet which even has its own shopping festival. Most people head towards the city’s myriad modern malls, including some of the biggest, most extravagant and weirdest on the planet. There are also all sorts of more unusual retail possibilities in the old city souks of Deira and elsewhere, ranging from traditional spices and antique jewellery through to modern designer fakes and cheap electronics. Below you’ll find ten of our favourite places to shop, bag a bargain or just ogle the latest designer styles.
1 Deira Souks For traditional Arabian ambience and good you can’t do better than the Deira souks. The Gold Souk, Spice Souk and Perfume Souk are all worth a look, while shops further afield sell pretty much everything from bellydancing costumes to cheap mobile phones. There are also plenty of designer fakes on sale, although most are kept in backrooms away from the eyes of officialdom. Exploring the Gold Souk you’ll doubtless be accosted by at least one or two few roving touts offering to sell you what are euphemistically described as “copy watches” and the like.
2 BurJuman The biggest and glitziest mall in the old city centre, BurJuman offers a great selection of upmarket designer fashions.
3 Wafi and Khan Murjan Souk The cartoonish, Egyptian-themed Wafi complex is one of the most relaxing and upmarket places to shop in Dubai, while the beautiful attached Khan Murjan Souk is stuffed with pricey but excellent stores selling all sorts of Arabian collectibles.
4 Karama Souk Dubai has a roaring trade in designer fakes – nowhere more so than at the infamous Karama Souk, where you’ll find shops stuffed with imitation bags, watches, glasses, clothes and so on. Wherever you shop, it pays to haggle like crazy and check quality very carefully before you buy.
5 Mercato The colourful Mercato mall in Jumeirah is one of the prettiest in the city, with preposterous faux-Italian styling and a good selection of mainly upmarket shops, the whole thing built (compared to other city mega-malls) on a refreshingly intimate and human scale.
6 Dubai Mall Quite simply the biggest mall on the planet, with well over a thousands shops and much more besides. If you can’t find it in the Dubai Mall it probably doesn’t exist. And be sure to have a look at the fabulous Kinokuniya outlet on the top floor – probably the best bookshop for a thousand miles. The adjacent Souk al Bahar is also worth a browse for its more traditionally oriented craft and souvenir shops.
7 Mall of the Emirates Outstripped only by the monumental Dubai Mall, the Mall of the Emirates is another of Dubai’s supersized shopping destinations, with 500-odd shops, plus the outlandish Ski Dubai. Just make sure you don’t get snow in your bags.
8 Souk Madinat Jumeirah It’s not old and it’s not even remotely authentic, but it’s hard not to like the gorgeous Souk Madinat Jumeirah, with traditional wood-framed Arabian styling and one of the city’s best (albeit most expensive) selection of craft and souvenir outlets.
9 Marina Mall The upmarket Marina Mall in Dubai Marina is one of the shiniest in the city, refreshingly compact and home to a superb array of big-ticket designer names.
10 Ibn Battuta Mall It’s not the best place to shop in Dubai, admittedly, but the zany, kilometre-long Ibn Battuta Mall totally trumps the competition when it comes to style, with lavishly surreal décor inspired by the journeys of great Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta.
There are also a number of local chains worth looking out for, all with outlets in myriad different malls and other parts of the city.
For cheap and cheesy Arabian souvenirs, check out Al Jaber Gallery or the slightly more upmarket Pride of Kashmir. Gallery One sells gorgeous prints and postcards featuring stunning original photographs of the city and elsewhere, while kids will love the cuddly toy dromedaries sold by The Camel Company.
Ajmal is the city’s main perfume chain, stocking local and international scents and also letting you mix your own, while local jewellery chain Damas sells all sorts of shiny stuff ranging from minimalist European designs through to the most extravagant Emirati bling.
===> Explore more Dubai itineraries via the RELATED links below.
Discover Dubai’s Exotic Souks … Hunt for gold and frankincense in the labyrinthine Deira bazaars
Dubai in 1 Day … Superfast city tour to make the most of your stay
Dubai Skycrapers on Sheikh Zayed Road … Where signature skyscrapers reach for the clouds
Dubai Walking Tour … The oldest part of the city is Bur Dubai, great to explore on foot
Futuristic Dubai … Take in the iconic (and quirky) real estate on a showstopping, self-guided tour
Highlights of Old Dubai … Dive into the past in Dubai’s historic old city
Indulge in Downtown Dubai … Dubai, home of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa