Dubai is a great place to get some shopping done. Tourists fly in from all over the world to trawl the emirate’s glittering, expansive malls, filled to the brim with international brands. But there are unique items can only be found in the city’s markets, whether in the traditional souqs or from more modern vendors. These are some of the best…
Dubai Flea Market
It’s the only one of its kind in the city – a sprawling market where you can get your hands on another man’s unwanted treasures, from books to toys and clothes, for a bargain price. It’s held regularly throughout the month, at various locations around the UAE, often in a beautiful outdoor park. Visitors need to keep their eye on the website to find out dates, times and locations.
The brains behind Ripe, a grocery store that sells organic, locally sourced, fresh ingredients, also hosts a weekend market at Dubai Police Academy Park in cooler months. During the summer, it heads indoors at various venues across the city. Every week all year round, it’s bustling with independent vendors selling their wares, whether that’s homemade jams, handmade jewellery or pre-loved clothing. There are also regular activities for the kids, live music, craft lessons and even a dedicated dog park. Visit the website for details on dates and times.
Farmers’ Market on The Terrace
Organic fruit and vegetables are sold here direct from the UAE’s farmers, which is why this market, dreamed up by the folk behind popular Dubai café Baker & Spice, quickly became many residents’ go-to grocery stop on a weekend. It’s on every Friday and Saturday from 8am and finishes when stock sells out. There are also artisanal vendors selling their own foodie creations. Go for the lively vibe and fresher than fresh produce.
ARTE, The Makers’ Market
This market is somewhat nomadic, as it moves around the city on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays every week, making its way round both indoor and outdoor venues. The UAE’s artists, creators and retailers set up shop here, selling everything from T-shirts to homemade beauty products – there’s all of that and plenty more. It’s a great place to pick up a thoughtful, original gift or souvenir. Look at the website for more details on locations and timings.
There are markets for all the essentials in the souqs of Deira and Bur Dubai, from spices to textiles, perfumes to gold. There are myriad stalls among these labyrinthine alleyways on either side of the Dubai Creek. Find the Gold Souq, Spice Souq and Perfume Souq all within walking distance of each other in Deira, then catch an abra (a water taxi) and sail across the creek to Bur Dubai. It can take all day to explore these traditional marketplaces, but they are a must on any Dubai itinerary, as they are great for picking up beautiful local souvenirs and buying exotic items such as gold, saffron, cashmere and bespoke oud-based scents at a bargain price.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Madinat Jumeirah has been designed to resemble the old-style Arabian marketplaces, but in a modern setting. Visitors can wander around countless alleyways, perusing everything from Persian rugs to pashmina shawls. Prives are higher here than in the traditional souqs, but the quality is high. And you can break up your shopping spree with a meal at any one of the fabulous restaurants, or even a ride on a gondola on the outdoor waterways, weather permitting.