Dubai shopping guide: Malls, boutiques and souks
Dubai or not to buy that is the question... bad puns aside, a visit to one (or more) of Dubai's shopping malls on your trip to the second-largest and most highly-populated Emirate is a must if you want to indulge in Dubai's unofficial national pastime.
With temperatures reaching around 45 degrees in summer, and barely dipping below 20 degrees in the so-called winter it isn't surprising that much of the Dubai shopping scene is centred around the cool and comfortable air-conditioned malls.
But there's more to the Dubai's consumer heaven than the huge indoor mall complexes: there are souks and medinas to be discovered and an entire month-long annual shopping festival at which to sharpen those elbows and practice your haggling skills.
Dubai's come a long way from its roots as a simple fishing village and a nomadic trading route, now best known as a playground for the rich and a living temple to consumerism, packed with seven-star hotels, high class bars and restaurants and, of course, plenty shopping opportunities.
Let our Dubai shopping guide help you make the most of your trip as it highlights the very best on offer and events no shopaholic can't afford to miss:
The Dubai Shopping Festival
If it's good enough for 47 million people, which is the staggering number of visitors the Dubai Shopping Festival has played host to over the last 18 years, it must be good.
The next Dubai shopping festival is scheduled for January 2nd to February 2nd 2014 and the DSF as it is known will give you the chance to shop at over 6,000 stalls selling wares from all over the world.
The festival takes over the Dubai shopping scene with promotions, discounts and special offers at every mall, raffles and even secret prizes to be won.
Dubai Shopping Malls
Dubai is all about malls, and here's a selection of the very biggest and best:
Wafi City is Dubai's well-known Ancient Egyptian-themed mall, less crowded than some of the newer and larger malls, it's none-the-less still impressive for its unusual pyramid shape, Egyptian-style carved statues, hieroglyphics and the nightly light and sound show which treats visitors to a 'Journey with the Pharaohs' each evening at 9.30 pm. As well as a selection of restaurants and supermarkets, Wafi City also has its own souk, and a visit to home interiors' boutique Petals is a must.
Mall of the Emirates
Mall of the Emirates (that's the one with the indoor ski slope don't you know) is a self-styled shopping resort with 520 brands including big glam names like Harvey Nichols alongside more high street focused British brands such as M&S and Debenhams, a Virgin Megastore and a Sheraton as well as a Kempinski hotel, just in case you're so tired after shopping that you need a lie down.
The BurJunam Centre is one of the smaller of Dubai's shopping malls but it's packed with some high-end brand names you'll certainly recognise, from Chanel, Dior, Prada and Fendi to Tod's, Versace, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. There's also a Saks Fifth Avenue meaning every type of purchase is on offer here, as well as a food court and more than 10 restaurants.
Spend your Dirhams not your Euros (or even Lira) at Dubai's Mercato Shopping Mall, an Italian-themed mall styled after a Mediterranean town in the residential Jumeirah district of Dubai. You can get your groceries, go to the movies, shop for clothing, homeware or electronics or just have a coffee at one of the street cafes - in a destination like Dubai where history and character aren't the key attractions on offer, this pretty and atmospheric mall makes for a pleasant distraction.
Dubai Shopping Secrets and Souks
It isn't just the malls that delight shoppers in Dubai: explore some of the city's souks and more hidden shopping spots to get a flavour of what else is on offer...
This market-style shopping area gives you a taste of India on the Dubai shopping scene. Meena Bazaar sells everything from textiles, saris, bags and jewellery to copy goods and cut price electronics. It also has useful services such as tailoring and is open late into the evening.
Souk Madinat aims to capture the spirit of a traditional Arabian souk complete with the modern conveniences of boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, landscaped gardens and a spa, all under the management of Jumeirah, the company behind the world famous Burj Al Arab. Even if you're not a guest at one of the hotels or villas in the complex you can shop this delightful recreated souk complete with its own waterway to ferry you around in style.
Gold and Diamond Park
As the name suggests the Gold and Diamond Park in the Sheikh Zayed district is the place to get your bling fix. The highly-regarded centre for jewellery has around 90 retailers and while it's important to shop around as much of the goods are of similar styles and quality, this is the place to go in Dubai if you have a jewellery purchase in mind.
Tip: The currency in Dubai is the Dirham. Make sure you check the exchange rate before going crazy with your credit card so you don't come home to a hefty bill!
Whether you're a label-lover or window shopper, exploring Dubai's malls, boutiques and souks is a must for those who love a good shop. Use our Dubai shopping guide to make sure you get the most from your visit, and don't forget to check out our deals and discounts section to see if there's a tempting flight or holiday which can help get you there. Tell us about your experience and let us know your favourite shopping spots...
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