United Arab Emirates
- The Basics
- Travel Health
- Public Holidays
- Useful Contacts
- Visa & Passport
Shopping remains a big drawcard for Dubai as it continues to reinvent itself as a major tourist destination. Be warned though: Dubai is not the bargain centre it used to be. Prices are now comparable to any other international city, and if you want specific items you are probably better off sourcing it through an online discounter in your home country. What Dubai does offer though is incredible range and convenience, turning shopping into a recreational and fun activity. Besides, the malls are premier attractions in themselves, often food, entertainment and spectables in addition to the hundreds of stores.
Dubai has zero sales tax and low import duties so certain items, such as electronic goods and gold jewellery, prices are still quite good. Dubai International Airport is quite frankly one of the most expensive venues to shop in Dubai, although it does have the advantage of selling alcohol in every guise, making this the only place to purchase liquor by the bottle.
The Dubai Shopping Festival in late January/early February is a long-standing major attraction offering major price reductions, special offers and product launches on a huge range of premium goods. Lucrative raffles take place to further add to the excitement. There is also a smaller, but increasingly popular Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) shopping festival over June and July which alone attracts some two million visitors.
The two main shopping facilities in Dubai are the Mall of the Emirates (the largest mall outside of North America) and the Dubai Mall. Both have numerous other attractions to complement their astounding range and number of shops.
It's worth noting that warranties on high-end electronic goods may not be valid in your home country. So factor this in when calculating the amount you are saving.
Apart from the air-conditioned malls and duty-free emporia of the airport, the best shopping is to be had at the souks - traditional Arab markets - around the city. Here you can find authentic Bedouin paraphernalia, Persian-style carpets and textiles. A particularly pleasant shopping area is the Bur Dubai side of the Creek where you can find textiles, raw silks and interesting souvenirs.
Dubai's most famous bazaar is the Gold Souk at Sikkat al-Khali Street. Innumerable shops and stalls sell gold jewellery in every possible form. Bargaining is expected and prices determined according to weight.
Shops tend to open from 8am to 1pm, reopening after the heat of the day at around 4.30pm until 8pm or even later. Malls will remain open from 10am until 10pm. Shops, malls and souks usually close on Friday mornings.
Become our Dubai Travel Expert
We are looking for contributors for our Dubai travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Dubai or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.