Shopping in Dubai

Bustling bazaars and mammoth malls, Dubai has it all

Fashionistas of the world take note, whether you’re all about seeking out the latest high-end fashion or more interested in adding some traditional Arabesque threads to your already established wardrobe, Dubai is the ultimate shopping destination.

Melinda HealyJournalist and travel writer
13 October 2022

While tourists seek out Dubai for a multitude of reasons, it is no secret that not only can the emirate lay claim to being the region’s biggest attention seeker, it is the fashion capital too. A global haven for high-end labels and luxury goods, it’s worth remembering there is more to the retail revolution here than just Versace and Gucci; in fact the Arabian bazaars are some of the best around. Spices, textiles, pearls, perfumes and pashminas, you simply must splash the cash and shop until you drop.

Dubai Mall

Twelve hours in one visit or an hour a day over 12 days, that’s how long it would take to cover every corner of what is the world’s second-largest shopping mall by total land area. You know the phrase ‘shop til you drop’ – it is possible here. Sizewise, Dubai Mall is the equivalent of 200 soccer fields, and with more than 1200 retail stores, 14,000 car spaces and a multitude of entertainment options for all ages – we’re talking Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, a VR Park, an Olympic sized indoor ice-skating rink, an illusion waterfall, not to mention the incredible Dancing Fountain display – it’s a destination in its own right.

This is the place for high-street fashion, luxury goods, sportswear, children’s fashion, souvenirs and experiences. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants, a cinema complex and even the world’s largest candy store: candylicious.

Dubai Mall is a shopper’s paradise, but you will need plenty of stamina and a whole lot of patience, since it is easy to get lost here.

Address: Financial Center Street, Downtown Dubai. You’ll find it along Sheikh Zayed Road, next to the Burj Khalifa.

Mall of the Emirates

Perhaps best known for its indoor snow field attraction, Ski Dubai, the Mall of the Emirates is so much more. Not only does it offer adjoining accommodation in the form of Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, it boasts as many as 550 stores and pop-ups, and a diverse dining landscape to suit all tastes. Brands available here include Burberry, Chanel, Polo Ralph Lauren, Missoni and, of course, Apple. Those traveling with children will appreciate Magic Planet, which will keep the tiny tots occupied while you shop. The Dreamscapes VR experience is another fun option for teens, while the city’s flagship VOX Cinemas is ideal for taking a load off when the retail therapy appeal wears off.

Do seek out the cafe overlooking the Ski Dubai attraction – it’s a nice spot to people-watch and dream of cooler climes and the ideal perch for those interested in watching their family on the slopes as opposed to joining them. A day spent at the Mall of the Emirates is a day well spent, and we all know no holiday to the Emirates is complete without dropping some cash on new threads.

Address: Interchange 4, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Barsha 1, Dubai

Bur Dubai Souk

A one-stop shop for Dubai’s talented tailors, Bur Dubai is the go-to for textiles, the souk brimming with fabrics from the subcontinent of India and the Far East. This is the place to purchase the materials you will take to be tailor-made into whatever items of clothing you prefer. In direct contrast to the swanky multi-level malls, this part of Old Dubai provides an authentic shopping experience.

Bargain like a pro

Expect to bargain with the merchants - their initial price is not the final price and they’re anticipating you’ll talk them down, so try your hand at it, it’s fun! The vendors will try and prize you with deals, but if you aren’t interested just walk away.

Expect to find jewelry and souvenir vendors here too, while the area is liveliest in the evenings between 5pm-10pm. It’s not uncommon to see locals from the other emirates converge on this part of the city in search of quality footwear and traditional clothing, as well as perfumes, spices and dried fruits.

Address: Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi. The nearest metro stations are Al Fahidi and Al Ghubaiba – both within walking distance of the souk.

The Outlet Village

Forget high-end brands at ridiculous break-the-bank prices, at The Outlet Village you can score quality goods at discounted prices. Positioned within the Dubai Parks & Resorts precinct in Jebel Ali, you’ll not only be impressed by the breadth of iconic brands up for grabs, but you’ll also no doubt enjoy the surroundings.

Designed with Tuscany in mind, this Italian-inspired shopping destination that replicates the village of San Gimignano is unlike any other in the emirate. Levis, Boss, Calvin Klein, Gant, Coach, Diesel, Gap, Guess, Michael Kors, you name it – the brand will likely have a presence here, so be sure to leave some room in your luggage for the bargains you are certain to snap up. Few tourists have left The Outlet Village empty-handed, so do be warned.

For a bite to eat and a coffee in between store-hopping, there are some great options here, including Operation: Falafel, Starbucks, Urban Seafood and Salties (Italian) Restaurant. Open from 10am to 10pm daily (11pm on Fridays/Saturdays).

Address: Jebel Ali, Dubai (near Dubai Parks & Resorts) follow the signs.

Wafi Mall

Modeled on the pyramids of Ancient Egypt, this mall adjoins Dubai’s famed Raffles Hotel, which is easily identified thanks to its distinctive pyramid shape. The mall is an extension of this theme and, as such, features columns that are reminiscent of Karnak and images of famous Egyptian pharaohs.

Glow in The Dark Minigolf

Those traveling with kids simply have to ensure they make time for a session at Wafi’s Glow in The Dark Minigolf attraction. It’s located on level 1 of the mall and costs AED 50 per person (excluding taxes).

Tourists who venture here can expect a mixture of leisure offerings, a selection of dining options, entertainment and retail offerings. Wafi Malls has hundreds of stores within the charming precinct with brands including Pierre Cardin, Mont Blanc, Damas and Rolex, to name just a few. There are regional and international labels available here and a souk to explore as well.

Designed like a 14th century Baghdad souk, Khan Murjan is traditional and features Arabian handicrafts, rugs and carpets, as well as garments of course.

Address: Oud Metha Road, Umm Hurair 2, Dubai.

Box Park / City Walk

As the name suggests, this ‘out-of-the-box’ shopping district is one for the foodies and fashionistas. Retailers operate out of colorful shipping containers which makes for an edgy vibe best experienced during the cooler months. Box Park is 1.2 kilometers long and is the place to take on the hip and happening vibes. Whether looking for trendy boutiques, cool cafes, funky art or retro threads, it’s all available for purchase here at this Al Wasl shopping destination which is in the heart of the Jumeirah district.

Just around the corner – 20 minutes by foot – you’ll find City Walk, another of this area’s retail gems. This open-air neighborhood is packed with appeal, thanks to its vast selection of shops and cafes, and its esplanade and central fountain. Visit Green Planet, check out the Roxy Cinemas or take in a concert at Coca Cola Arena; City Walk is abuzz with activity day and night.

Address: Box Park is located on Al Wasl Road in Jumeirah, while City Walk is on Al Safa Street, Al Wasl.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

This popular Arabian bazaar has been designed to reflect Arabic culture and offers tourists stalls that sell everything from slippers to jewelry, spices, pashminas and everything in between. Incredible finds are just part of the appeal in these parts though, as there is so much to love about this market area.

The perfect blend of Old and New Dubai, Souk Madinat Jumeirah exudes authenticity and modernity in equal measure. Wander the stalls that line the maze of tiny alleyways and admire the intricate souvenirs and trinkets, clothing, artworks and carpets. Soak up the ‘scent-sational’ atmosphere and grab a drink or indulge in a meal in the shadows of the iconic Burj Al Arab luxury hotel.

Don’t leave without enjoying a ride in a traditional abra on the meandering Madinat Jumeirah canal. There’s also a theater nearby, so do check out what’s on when you’re planning your visit – it might just round out the whole experience.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah can be accessed on foot quite easily from Jumeirah Al Naseem, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam and Jumeirah Al Qasr.

Address: Al Sufouh Road, Jumeirah

Global Village

Those visiting the Emirates between October and April simply must visit this incredible seasonal shopping destination. This multicultural family-friendly attraction is simply mesmerizing and one of the most lively in Dubai. The 17,200,000 sq ft site attracts more than 5 million visitors every year, and when you consider it hosts 26 pavilions celebrating 80 different cultures, it’s not hard to see why.

Arrive early

It gets super busy here in the evenings, so try and arrive right on opening at 4pm and leave before you’re shuffling between pavilions and the line for the toilet becomes a mile long.

At a cost of just AED 20 per person to enter, not only can you purchase goods from all the countries imaginable, there are performances to enjoy, as well as a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and a Peter Rabbit Adventure Zone, which are sure to have the kids enthralled.

I’ve been more than a few times and each time I am blown away by the visuals – think miniature versions of the Sydney Opera House, Golden Gate Bridge, Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal – and I simply cannot get enough of the traditional Yemeni honey, Moroccan tagine; oh and I love watching the fireworks light up the night sky.

Address: Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road – Exit 37 – E311

Typical local products, souvenirs to take home

Dubai, as I have mentioned previously, is an emirate that has so many different faces. At its core though, Dubai is a city that acknowledges and celebrates its roots.

Many tourists leave this region richer than when they arrived, not in a financial sense, but more by way of education and cultural understanding.

That being said, as important as the memory bank is, most of us collect keepsakes to remind us of our journey long after the passport has been packed away.

Here is a list of some of the local products you should consider taking home with you:

Diamante encrusted camel keychains – I have bought several of these in my time, and they are tiny reminders of a destination that is as blingy as it is traditional.

Pearls – not only a nod to the historic industry synonymous with this region, but they’re small and easy to pack.

Dates – the freshest around, you can’t go wrong with pre-packaged Bateel dates.

Persian rugs and carpets – you’ll need to consider your luggage allowance and perhaps have them shipped, but the selection of rugs and carpets in this part of the world is phenomenal.

Aladdin lamps – you can purchase small versions of these in the souvenir shops and they’re a great addition to a travel memento collection.

Pashminas – some of the softest you’ll find and always useful if the air conditioning is blasting or you are entering a mosque or conservative part of the city.

Oudh and Bakhoor – it can be an acquired scent, but if you find yourself drawn to the distinct aromas wafting through Dubai’s shopping malls and bazaars, you can purchase some to take home. Oudh is an expensive fragrance oil derived from the agarwood tree and comes as pure oil, mixed oil, floral oils or perfume fragrances. Bakhoor refers to the chips of the agarwood, which are burnt and considered a great alternative to candles and incense.

Arabian coffee pot and cups – locally known as dallah, you will usually find these traditional pots made from copper; they are generally reasonably priced, unless of course they are rimmed with gold or silver.

Spices – ensure you are well versed in what you can take back to your home country, but for those who enjoy cooking, a sealed spice mix is a great souvenir for yourself or your friends and family back home.

About the author

Melinda HealyAlthough born in PNG, Mel is an Aussie-made journo who's always been more interested in passport stamps than possessions. A whiz with words, Mel spent a number of years living and working in the United Arab Emirates, it was here that she shared insight into Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the world. Mel believes travel is a privilege and an educator.