Soak up the sounds, sights and scents of traditional Arab culture by taking a tour of the very best Souks (traditional Arab marketplaces or bazaars) which Dubai has to offer. From fragrant spice souks to glittering gold souks, these iconic, bustling and heady markets are at the very core of Dubai culture. Dubai is the only one out of the seven Emirates of the UAE which built its wealth through trading, rather than oil. Now famous for its super-luxury shopping malls and designer outlets, souks are still a key part of the Dubai experience and a must-visit destination for tourists. Jump on a flight from India to Abu Dhabi and get shopping!
Dubai’s World-Famous Gold Souk
Truly a shopping experience which you’ll match nowhere else, Dubai’s gold souk is the very first souk you should visit and no matter how long you’re planning to stay or what your itinerary is, it’s not to be missed! A sparkling Aladdin’s cave of glowing jewels and mesmerising precious metals, this internationally renowned souk can be found in Deira, just a few hundred meters from Al Ras Metro Station. Regulated by the government to ensure all gold is genuine, this souk is a fantastic place to pick up high-quality bargains.
Just a short walk on from the Gold souk, this heady feast for the senses is another unmissable experience. Overflowing with every conceivable spice under the sun, this souk offers everything from machalepi from the pit of the St Lucie cherry, to Indonesian Kaffir lime leaves. An excellent opportunity to pick up a few rare gifts, this souk offers a unique insight into the history of Middle Eastern trade – strategically placed near the Persian gulf, every day this vibrant market’s stocks are replaced with shipments arriving at the nearby wharf.
Close to the spice souk in the city’s old trading centre of Bur Dubai, this visually stunning market is filled with fabrics of every conceivable colour and texture. Cashmeres and hand-spun pashminas are among the most popular items, while silks and cottons are sold off the reel by the yard – a great opportunity to haggle for a bargain. Traditional Arab slippers and clothing is also available, stitched by some of the most skilled drapers in the UAE and souvenirs are sold here too, making for a fantastic one-stop shopping trip for any garment enthusiast. Housed in a row of restored sandstone buildings topped with wind towers, this souk is an explosion of different sounds, shapes and structures.
This is but a brief selection of the many unique souks Dubai has to offer: if you’re planning a longer stay, make sure you check out the Souk Madinat Jumeirah, which boasts an array of restaurants, a nightclub and a theatre, and Souk Al Bahar, with its attractive waterfront restaurants. And when you’re planning to make a purchase, don’t be afraid to haggle – it’s expected, and can result in a significant decrease in price. Try and build rapport with the sales person, never act too keen on any one item and try dressing less expensively than you might otherwise – all great tips for bagging a bargain!
Whether you’re keen to buy gifts or simply want to soak up some authentic Arab culture, make sure you don’t miss out on these unusual marketplaces – they’re a uniqule Arabic experience.