‘If you build it, they will come’
Sheikh Mohammed’s motto seems to be working wonders for his city, Dubai. Over the past decade the city has grown from a barren land of sand dunes to a landmark that depicts luxury, style and uniqueness. Tourists throng the city for its skyscrapers, beaches, theme parks, desert safaris, belly dancing under the star lit skies in the vast expanse of the desert and last but not the least its magnificent shopping experience. If you are looking for some retail therapy to satisfy your shopping cravings then Dubai is your next stop destination.
A good place to start your Dubai shopping experience is alfresco in the alleyways of the souks situated either in the Bastakiya side, the Deira side or by the Dubai Creek. Apart from strolling in the traditional lanes of the souk, tourists also get a chance to ride in the creek on the wooden boats called abra which are native to the region.
Dubai is known for its gold and Deira Gold Souk is the place to shop for it. The alleys are packed with never ending shops stocked with glittering gold that blinds you with its shine leaving you in awe. You should be a good negotiator with the shop owners to get a good bargain on the gold but even if you end up buying something expensive you will return feeling smug especially if you compare the prices of gold from back home. If you are looking for something more luxurious and sophisticated then Madinat Jumeirah Souk is one place to visit. The place is not like the traditional souks but has been fashioned into looking like one inside an air-conditioned complex which is attached to the Madinat Jumeirah resort. They offer high priced merchandises unlike the ones you get in the original souks but it is definitely worth a stroll.
You can also be acquainted with the tantalizing aromas of the spices that are prevalent in Dubai in the Spice Souk which is right next to the Gold Souk. You will find a wide array of spices such as chilli, curry leaves, turmeric, saffron, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and all types of tee, tobacco and sheesha. Here you will also get to relish the city’s famous almond and dates dipped in chocolate and buy different sorts of dryfruits. Spice souk will definitely leave you salivating.
The Textile souk offers shoppers a variety of products ranging from garments, slippers, souvenirs, carpets and pashmini shawls. This place will add to the ethnic side of your wardrobe. The best time to visit the souks is in the morning as it will be pleasantly warm so that you skip the intense heat later in the day. Shops at all the souks are usually closed from one to four in the afternoon to avoid the high temperatures. Do keep in mind that weekends in Dubai fall on Fridays and shops are likely to remain shut.
Jumeirah Beach Residence – The Walk
The Walk at the Jumeirah Beach Residence is a promenade with the ocean right beside it. Tourists get to enjoy the beach along with shops that line the beach selling handmade and traditional crafts, clothes, bags and jewelry. It is a delight to eat at the restaurants and cafes present here with its a brilliant view of the adjoining ocean. The 1.7 km stretch that is called The Walk has a blend of tourists visiting it, both western and Arabic. There are world class hotels such as Hilton for tourists to stay in. Apart from boutiques and eateries, The Walk is known for its ‘outdoor gallery’ where artists perform. You will find beautiful dancers and singers entertaining the crowd along with comedy shows and painters displaying their paintings and sculptures on the sidewalk. This particular venue in the city will definitely blow your mind.
After some street shopping your next stop should be at the humongous malls spread out all over Dubai. You should preferably start with Mall of Emirates or the Dubai mall. Dubai Mall is said to be the largest mall in the world. This mall sports 1200 retail outlets which include accessories, apparels, furniture, electronics, restaurants, bars and practically everything under the sun. Dubai mall has an aquarium and a skating ring as well. And if that wasn’t enough, a theater and its own hotel. The Mall of Emirates does not fall behind either. It is known as the World’ First Shopping Resort as it houses two five star hotels-Kempinski and Sheraton Hotel. Not only does it offer an impossibly long list of brands to shop from, it also has its own indoor ski slope, Ski Dubai. Apart from shopping you can also watch movies in a fourteen screen movie theater and kids can also have the time of their lives at Magic Planet, which has several games and rides.
There are several other malls similar to the two mentioned before but definitely not at the same scale. A few of them are Deira City Centre, Burjuman Centre, Jumeirah Plaza, Ibn Battuta Mall, Wafi Shopping Mall etc. Shoppers should try and visit Dubai during the Dubai Shopping Festival which falls in January. During the festival you will get the products at discount and the best prices. Even though flight ticket prices will be at its peak during this period it will be worth it.
Airport: Duty free shopping
Even when you reach the airport to finally say goodbye to the city, it does not cease to surprise you. Duty Free shopping at the Dubai Airport is a splendid departing experience for all tourists. Here you can revel in tax free shopping of items like perfumes, books, men’s and women’s fashion, jewelry, liquor etc. Dubai airport has first class service along with value for money especially for such high quality products.
It is likely that when you start shopping in Dubai you might fail to remember what exactly you required in the first place. The shops lure you to buy products that you had not even considered to buy and it could be a nightmare for the numbers in your bank account unless you keep a rein on your credit card. But the city has several products to offer at different price ranges that will suit your needs, so you do not have to curb your urges as this astounding city will leave you yearning for more.