The malls of Dubai have a reputation of being huge, classy and glamorous. Right from retail stores to aquariums, there is nothing that these malls do not have. One can easily spend an entire day in a mall at Dubai without getting bored. However, shopping in Dubai should not be restricted to the glitzy malls. Another world of shopping lies in the traditional souks of the city. Vibrant, colourful and charming, these souks are a part of the history and culture of the city. Here are six of the best souks in Dubai that you should visit during your holiday in this Emirate city.
Located in Deira, Dubai Gold Souk is surely the most popular souk in the city. Home to around 300 stores that sell only gold and other precious metal and stones, the gold souk is heaven for people who love gold jewellery. Right from traditional Arabic designs to more modern and bolder designs, there is nothing you would not get here. You can buy 24K (coins and biscuits), 22K (chains, bangles and rings), and 18K (for jewellery with diamond and precious stones). You would also get to see the world’s biggest gold ring (as announced by the Guinness Book of World Records) here.
The best part about shopping in the gold souk is bargaining. Yes, you are allowed to bargain (in fact, it is expected) while shopping for gold jewellery. Once you decide what you want, feel free to haggle with the salesperson until you agree with the final amount. While the price of the gold is fixed, the rate of the making charges can be haggled with. As there is no tax levied on gold in the UAE, this is one of the places where you can buy gold jewellery at a cheaper rate.
Even before you enter the Perfume Souk, you would be welcomed by the combination of some strong and sweet fragrances. Whatever might be your favourite fragrance, you would be able to find it here. Right from the traditional Arabic attar to the latest branded perfumes, every kind of scent is available here. You can pick either large bottles for yourself or beautifully-crafted, tiny bottles as the perfect gifts or souvenirs for friends and family. With more than 100 shops, choosing amongst all the fragrances can be a difficult task.
Apart from housing a large variety of fragrances, the Perfume Souk in Dubai is also a place where you can make your own perfume. With the help of the storekeeper, you would be able to combine your favourite fragrances and get your own customized perfume. Some other unique things that you can buy here include incense (in the form of powder, wood, rock, sticks, crystals, etc.) as well as essential oils. A visit to the Perfume Souk is surely a delight for the senses.
Whether you are a chef at a hotel or a person who loves cooking, the Spice Souk would not fail to entice you. Perched between the Dubai Gold Souk and the Perfume Souk, the Spice Souk is a place where you would find all kinds of spices. While some are the produce of Middle East, many of the spices have been procured from around the world. Enjoy the smells and colours of a variety of spices including cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, nutmeg, etc. Apart from the spices, it is also a great place to shop for different types of rice, teas, dried fruits and dates. The Spice Souk also gives you the chance to buy some memorable souvenirs and gifts to take back home. Even if you do not want to buy the spices or anything else, do visit the souk to simply stroll along the stalls and enjoy the vibe of the place. Photographers would find lot of colourful photo-ops to capture on their cameras.
You would find stores of almost all international and local brands in the various malls of Dubai. However, if you want to get a bespoke outfit for yourself, head straight to the Textile Souk in Bur Dubai. This souk is lined with stores where you can buy all kinds of textiles or fabrics. Be it silk, cotton, cashmere or wool you are looking for, you would find it at the Textile Souk. Buy your favourite fabric and hop into to one of the tailoring shops to get a dress or suit as per your measurements. If you do not have time to get an outfit stitched, there are several stores where you can pick readymade garments. Textile Souk also offers you the chance to buy accessories like scarves, laces, fancy buttons, sequins, stones, etc.
Souk Al Bahar
In the recent years, Dubai has seen the emergence of several places that are a perfect mix of modern malls and traditional souks. Souk Al Bahar is one of the prominent ones. Located next to the Dubai Mall (connected with a footbridge), the Souk Al Bahar is the ideal place to shop for Arabic souvenirs and gifts in a comfortable way. Some of the things that you can buy here include jewellery, brass lamps, carpets, incense cones, Bateel dates, etc. Take a break from shopping and enjoy the Arabic pastries that are laden with nuts and honey. If you have time, you must dine at one of the several waterfront restaurants, not just for the food but also for the amazing views of the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Lake. In the evening, it would be a great place to enjoy the iconic fountain show on the lake.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
While shopping at the traditional souks of Dubai is exhilarating and at the same time cheap, it can be exhausting, what with all the haggling and trying to avoid the constant calls of the sellers. If you want to have a quieter and relaxing souk experience, it would be best to head to Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Another traditional meets modern souk, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah is located on Jumeirah Road, next to Hotel Madinat Jumeirah. Here, you would get to buy all the typical Arabic souvenirs including carpets, shishas, funky jewellery and furniture, sculptures, art, rugs, ceramics, household items, etc. There are also several luxury brand shops, art galleries, cafes and fine dining restaurants at Souk Madinat Jumeriah.
Visiting the souks of Dubai is surely a unique experience, one that you should not miss if you want to learn about the authentic culture of the place. Even if shopping is not on your mind, visiting these souks would show you a different side of the city of Dubai.