What to buy and where: The hottest shopping districts in Dubai for all tastes.
From malls to shipping containers, backstreets to beach bazaars … Dubai is an amazing place to shop. In addition to some world-renowned malls, the emirate serves up retail therapy in a variety of noteworthy, Instagrammable locations. Here is our guide to Dubai’s top spots to shop.
Located in the heart of Dubai’s Al Wasl Road, BoxPark is an ultra trendy shopping and eating area built out of disused shipping containers painted vibrant block colours, inside which a boutique or café is housed. With a distinctly “street” feel, the stores include the incredibly hip Urbanista boutique which sells contemporary fashion brands including Comme Des Garcons, Anya Hindmarch and Kenzo as well as local designers. Even the sports brand supremos get in on the act, with edits from Nike, Adidas and TOMS. The outdoor location makes a nice alternative to mall trawling.
Best for: Boutique spotting
Al Wasl Rd
A taste of Tuscany comes alive in Dubai’s newest addition on the shopping circuit: The Outlet Village. Located on the outskirts of the city, this Italian-themed shopping complex is packed with more than 100 high-end brands, including Italy’s finest (Ermenegildo Zegna, Roberto Cavalli) to America’s best (Coach, Tommy Hilfiger). The best part? Discounted prices.
Best for: Discount hunting
The city’s top shops on the beach? Only in Dubai! The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) is an outdoor maze of shops and restaurants that attracts the beach crowd. Brands include River Island, Victoria’s Secret, Roberto Cavalli Gym and chic local boutique S*uce on Sea, which has a great selection of swimwear. Other stores include MAC for post-beach beauty makeovers and Adventure HQ for all your beach activities. This is a one-stop shop for beaching and browsing, with top restaurants thrown in for good measure. The best bit? You can watch the spectacular Dubai sunset as you shop.
Best for: Beachside perusing
The Beach, JBR
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting shopping destinations in the city, City Walk is home to an array of stand-alone boutiques you won’t find anywhere else in Dubai. Cooler-than-cool unisex brands such as Carven, Vince, MSGM and Karl by Karl Lagerfeld have opened equally chic shop spaces in City Walk. Several contemporary multi-brand concept stores for both fashion and home furnishings can be found, and there’s also a good selection for children including the offspring of the world’s largest shoe department Level Shoes – Level Kids. Again, reasons to visit don’t stop with the shopping - the dining options are also top-notch.
Best for: Chic finds
Al Safa Street, Dubai
At Satwa see Dubai in a totally different light. Leave the glitz and the glamour of the malls for a more “real” experience of small tailors and ramshackle stores overflowing (quite literally) with an explosion of fabrics in bright shades, unusual prints and tactile textures. Barter and haggle to your heart’s content over embellishments, feather trims and exquisite beading, and then take your chosen fabric to one of the many tailors for a cash-effective couture experience like no other – they are great at copying your favourite items, from shirts to dresses.
Best for: Hidden pieces
Al Satwa Road, Dubai
Karama is the place to go for those magical little finds that later become talking points amongst your friends at home. Carved candle holders, eclectic lanterns and heavily embroidered bed sets sit among Dubai tourist trinkets of inscribed camels, mosque alarm clocks, and the salt ‘n pepper “sheikh and sheikh”. It’s busy, but it’s worth it if you’re fond of discovering more eclectic pieces.
Best for: Souvenir shopping
With more than 1,200 shops under one roof in The Dubai Mall, as well as nearby Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai has a lot to offer in terms of shopping. Absolutely anything you could wish for can be found within its vast expanse, from luxury jewellery and watches to fashion and home interiors. The mall is easily navigable via electronic maps, and is also loosely divided into areas depending on retail type with most of the top floor being dedicated to children’s fashion, a dedicated Fashion Avenue for the super luxe brands, and even a denim area on the ground floor close to a cluster of sports stores. The challenge is to spend less than eight hours there.
Best for: Anything and everything
Downtown Dubai, Dubai
What do you get when you combine luxury shopping (think Harvey Nichols), an indoor ski-slope and Dubai’s only official Apple store? Mall of the Emirates, of course. Billed as a shopping ‘resort’, this 500-store-strong mall is a darling among Dubai’s shopping elite. With a mix of the top international designer brands and independent stores, as well as a host of family-themed activities from a manmade ski-slope, a 14-screen cinema and a giant arcade, MoE is the place to go if you’re looking for a day (or two) of retail therapy.
Best for: Family-friendly fun
Mall of the Emirates, Interchange 4, Sheikh Zayed Road
Away from the glitz of Dubai’s shopping malls, is another world of shopping waiting to be discovered. Head to the traditional souks (or markets) to shop (and bargain) to your heart’s content. From the intricate jewellery in Gold Souk to the traditional fragrances of Perfume Souk, the aromas of Spice Souk and the delightful souvenirs of Souk Madinat, the souks of Dubai are an invigorating place to shop.
Best for: Traditional wares
Get the best of the Dubai shopping experience: discover the Dubai Shopping Festival or stroll outdoors.