From luxury mega malls to hip boutiques and markets, when it comes to retail, Dubai really does have it all.
If New York is the city that never sleeps, Dubai is the city that never stops shopping. With the major malls open until midnight daily and two shopping festivals – Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises held annually, the emirate is a consumer's paradise.
Experienced shoppers will tell you that the best time to visit Dubai is in January, also the most temperate time of year, with Dubai Shopping Festival usually in full swing. The month-long retail bonanza includes city-wide sales and there are bargains to be had across most of Dubai's malls and boutiques as well as millions of dirhams to be won in prizes and cars.
For those travelling in the middle of the year, Dubai Summer Surprises offers sales on a much smaller scale and some much-needed respite from the heat. For the rest of the year, there’s always the promise of a new store launch, boutique opening or development in the works.
The major malls
Mall of the Emirates is a multi-level shopping haven with over 630 international brands, including department stores Debenhams, Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer, fashion boutiques such as Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, and plenty of sports and electronics stores. You’ll find the world’s most renowned designer brands in the Fashion Dome and Luxury Wing.
When it comes to one-stop-shopping, The Dubai Mall is another go-to hub. Welcoming more than 80 million visitors each year, there are around 1,300 shops to explore, including Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s department stores, and more than 200 food and beverage outlets. If you’re looking for clothes head to The Fashion Avenue, while The Souk precinct boasts jewellery, accessory and handicraft stores as well as those selling traditional Arab clothing.
Browse the boutiques
Where malls and mainstream brands have ruled in the past, the city's independent boutique scene is on the rise. Best visited in winter, outdoor dining and shopping districts such as Al Seef by Dubai Creek, The Beach at JBR and City Walk in Jumeirah now offer an alternative to the mega malls. The districts feature a handful of established stores and standalone boutiques including Sephora and outlets of local boutique S*uce, the latter a must-visit for cutting-edge designs, contemporary Arabic designers and accessories with Middle Eastern flair.
When it comes to the city’s hippest independent boutiques, you’ll find them scattered along the stretch of Jumeirah Beach Road and Al Wasl Road. Chic villa-turned-boutique O De Rose sells charming Arabic-inspired decor and accessories with a nod to pop culture.
For more targeted shopping, there is a cluster of cool spots at La Mer, Boxpark, Sunset Mall and Galleria Mall that you can easily hit in an afternoon.
If handmade, one-off buys are more your thing, ARTE Market is held regularly at Mercato Mall and Times Square Centre and features art, crafts and products including candles and baby clothes from local artisans. Meanwhile, the alfresco RIPE Market – which takes place every Friday and Saturday at Police Academy Park – specialises in organic food, fashion and crafts.