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A close neighbour to the Gold Souk, follow your nose to the Spice Souk to be instantly transported to the hustle of a vibrant trading floor. With top chefs, home cooks and savvy expats all swearing by their personal picks among the Spice Souk's colourful sacks of spices, herbs, rice and fruit, the market hall is a must-visit for those wanting to explore Dubai's exotic side. Score high-quality saffron strands at local prices, taste fresh A-grade and sun-dried organic dates and stock up on spices, dried fruits, candied nuts and locally-blended teas. You are sure to discover a new flavour – and yes, you can sample before you buy.
Follow the road up from the Gold and Spice Souks, and you'll find yourself in Deira’s Perfume Souk on Sikkat Al Khali Street. Dealing in everything scented, from pure perfume to essential oils, incense sticks and the exotic traditional oud, this trading spot has beautifully-fragranced options for all. Buy rich oils in bulk, stored in wholesale-sized flagons, or opt for the more portable ornate vials designed for those who like to dab perfume on their pulse points. Ask for a crash-course in oud – many vendors will be proud to explain the differences in this ancient fragrant resin. Have a personal fragrance created and bottled by experienced perfumers.
On the Bur Dubai side of the Creek you’ll discover the colourful Textile Souk. A favourite haunt of the city's in-demand tailors and emerging fashion designers, the Souk's vast array of shops are crowded with rolls of fabric, including fine silks, airy cottons, exotic palm frond weaves, and dazzling sari fabrics. Choose from your favourite materials and pop into one of the surrounding tailors to be measured for a dress, abaya (traditional womenswear), kandoura (traditional menswear) or suit made to your design. Most can turn around orders in mere days.
Nestled between the five-star Mina A'Salam and Al Qasr hotels, Souk Madinat Jumeirah is for those who want to skip the haggling but enjoy the thrill of shopping souk-style. Wander the labyrinth of narrow lanes in search of fun souvenirs, fine art and sculptures. Pop into the many local and international design houses or take in a show at the atmospheric Madinat Theatre. There's an array of restaurants to choose from any time of day, with visitors able to dine in Levant cafes or fine-dining restaurants – many with front-row views of the waterways that meander through the complex. Complete your visit with a traditional abra ride and drink in the views of the iconic Burj Al Arab.
Around the corner from rows of European jewellery stores is The Dubai Mall's take on an Arabian-style souk, with more than 40 boutiques boasting fine jewellery, precious metals and jaw-dropping gemstones. Modernised and on par with international standards, this is a vivacious shopping experience with the local craftsmen passionate about their art and Emirati heritage reflected in their intricate designs.
Just a short and scenic stroll over the footbridge that arches across Burj Lake at the base of the towering Burj Khalifa, Souk Al Bahar is a modern take on a traditional Arabian marketplace. Here, you can stock up on Bateel dates, incense cones, jewellery, abayas, brass lamps and fresh Arabic pastries studded with nuts and drizzled with honey. Upstairs, with its wide-slung windows, is one of the best vantage points from which to enjoy a meal while watching the evening light shows at The Dubai Fountain.
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Site last updated [23/02/2020]
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