If you’re heading to Dubai to shop, you’re in for a treat: the city is without doubt one of the best places in the world for retail therapy. From malls to markets and traditional to cutting-edge fashion, shopping in Dubai is a joy.
The city's souks
Clustered around the Dubai Creek, traditional souks bring something special to any Dubai trip – and often help visitors leave with something special, too.
The Gold Souk is the most famous, underlining Dubai’s status as the 'city of gold'. Located in Deira, it's packed with independent traders selling everything from gold, silver, diamonds and watches, to intricate creations of the jeweller’s art. Take your time exploring, and if you spot something to your liking, bargain with the shopkeeper for the best price.
Just round the corner is the Perfume Souk, a collection of small shops offering bespoke fragrances and essential oils. If you’ve ever dreamed of having a custom perfume, this is your chance as plenty of shops will help you create your own scent.
Also on the Deira side of the Creek is the Spice Souk, which sells exotic spices, fruit and dried foods. See if you can pick up some saffron at a good price, and don’t forget to sample the local dates, which you may find hard to resist buying afterwards.
A short abra ride across the water to Bur Dubai is the Textile Souk where you can find vibrant fabric, clothing and plenty of fun souvenirs. If you have a bit more time and ambition, you could also get fitted for your own bespoke garment – a service you can find from the many tailors in Satwa.
While Dubai’s malls are justifiably legendary, some of its most interesting retail experiences can be found in its smaller shopping districts. City Walk is a perfect example of this; a carefully curated open-air collection of stores, boutiques, restaurants and entertainment attractions, enlivened by street art from some of the world’s most famous urban artists.
La Mer and The Beach at JBR are great options for combining sun, sand and shopping – both offer an impressive collection of shops and eateries, as well as entertainment. The Beach boasts a multiplex cinema, while La Mer includes the Laguna Waterpark.
And for a combination of traditional architecture and cutting-edge commerce, Souk Madinat Jumeirah and Souk Al Bahar are top retail destinations. You’ll see plenty of echoes of Dubai’s traditional souks, mixed with some of the biggest names in fashion, independent shops and lots of dining options.
Independent boutiques and markets
Speaking of independent outlets, Dubai is also home to extraordinarily creative designers, creators and curators – perfect for people in search of something truly unique.
Check out The Fashion Vault at Sunset Mall on Jumeirah Beach Road for a lively collection of fashion, beauty products and accessories. Jumeirah is home to some of Dubai’s best independent boutiques, with many stores combining fashion and food such as Kulture House, O Concept and Comptoir 102. Dubai Design District is also a centre for Dubai's fashion creators with sleek boutiques and concept stores.
For some local art, Alserkal Avenue is worth exploring. Home to local creatives, Alserkal features regularly-changing exhibitions. The UAE’s arts scene has developed rapidly in recent years, so this is a chance to find cutting-edge pieces, often directly from the artist. ARTE, the Makers’ Market also features local artists and creators, with popups in various locations around the city.
And while the souks may have the traditional flair, the city has seen new markets spring up across the map. The Market at The Beach at JBR runs all week during the winter months, offering jewellery, accessories, souvenirs and more from dozens of stalls. Similarly, Ripe Market offers an ever-changing mix of artisan crafts and food products – find it in Police Academy Park in winter and Times Square Centre in summer.
Find it all at the city's malls
Dubai’s malls are famous the world over, for very good reason. Far from being just large shopping centres, they are a nucleus for everything, from entertainment to community events and even exercise classes.
Whatever your Dubai plans are, make some time for The Dubai Mall. Along with a plethora of family-friendly activities, it's also shopaholic's haven. Check out the mall's flagship Bloomingdale's, which houses choice luxury brands across three storeys, Level Shoes for the world's largest collection of designer footwear or Galleries Lafayette for upscale labels with the French collector's touch. The Fashion Avenue is home to cosmopolitan haute couture, and Dubai Mall Zabeel – the newest extension to the mall – is packed with contemporary art and more shops. A charming juxtaposition, visit The Souk, which harks back to the city's traditional marketplaces with perfumes and jewellery.
There are many other malls to choose from too. Mall of the Emirates is also known for Ski Dubai’s indoor ski slope, plenty of food and entertainment, as well as hundreds of great stores, including the only Harvey Nichols luxury department store in the city.
For a unique mall experience, journey to Ibn Battuta Mall, which features courts themed around the travels of the legendary Arab explorer Ibn Battuta. The Persia Court is particularly impressive and you can sit and have a coffee under its enormous, intricately-decorated dome.
For fashion-focused bargain hunters, Dubai’s out-of-town outlet malls are a must-see. The Outlet Village takes its inspiration from traditional Italian markets, with shops behind stone-clad archways. Here, as well as at the modern Dubai Outlet Mall, you can find world-class fashion brands and unbeatable savings on designer labels.
A buzzing retail calendar
Dubai hosts exciting festivals offering amazing sales, heavyweight performances and attractive raffle prizes year round. Enjoy heavyweight performances and winter fun during Dubai Shopping Festival
from December to January, family-focused thrills and top bargains with Dubai Summer Surprises
from June to August, and discounts on all things home at Dubai Home Festival from April to May. In between, holiday celebrations such as Eid, Diwali, Chinese New Year and more keep your shopping spree going strong. See what's on during your holiday with Dubai Calendar