Dubai Shopping Tours Guides Shopping Guide Dubai

Dubai Shopping Tours Guides

In Dubai shopping is a leisure activity second to none. Not for nothing is this place known as the shopping capital of the Middle East. Part of the appeal of Dubai as the destination for serious shopaholics is the lack of taxes and duty, which can make a good deal truly bargainous.

As if this wasn't enough, the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, which usually takes place in January, sees further discounts on goods, as well as deals on hotels and air fares. The event usually involves some pyrotechnics, as well as a nod to Dubai's heritage, but all this is an attempt to disguise Dubai's addiction to the lure of a good purchase. Dedicated shoppers from all over the world tend to ignore the cultural flim flam and head straight to the malls. If you get withdrawal symptoms afterwards, you won't have long to wait until Abu Dhabi holds its own shopping festival in March.

Dubai's malls are glossy, air conditioned (sometimes too well air conditioned; bring a jacket) and often feature extras like fountains, eateries and marble floors. Others offer services such as valet parking and shoe shining.

However, if you want a glimpse of the real Dubai, you should head to the souks, traditional Arabic market places. Perhaps Dubai's most famous souk is the gold souk in Deira, near the Hyatt Regency Hotel. It sells other things apart from gold, but it is definitely the gold that leaves the strongest impression on dazzled visitors. Even if you don't want to buy anything, it is still worth a look, just to see that much gold in one place.

The price of an item depends on the weight of the gold, the purity of the gold and whether it is made by machine or lovingly handcrafted. Don't worry too much about whether the gold is really of the quality stated, as Dubai has very strict laws to ensure the authenticity of gold sold. If you're told it's 22 carat, it almost certainly is. This reassurance doesn't mean you shouldn't haggle in fact, it's almost compulsory. Old hands will give you differing advice on how exactly to go about it, but timid Westerners may find it doesn't come naturally. The trick is to try not to look too interested in the item you want, and to ask for the seller's "best price". There is an element of theatre involved in Dubai shopping which can be stressful for shy people, but try not to be intimidated you are still under no obligation to buy anything at all. When you are buying a rug, expect the seller to unroll plenty that you may not want it's all part of the show, and shouldn't stop you bargaining over the cost. (Serious rug buyers might want to take a look at Sharjah's central market.)

If you've come in search of designer knock offs, Karama is the district to head to. The Government is trying to crack down on the trade in imitation brand names, but there are still items to be found, especially if you ask shopkeepers directly.

Don't forget the food souks, either, for fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Deira Old Souk sells a wonderful array of spices.

And if you're after the ultimate tacky souvenir, you have a rather wide choice. Camel lighters aren't named after Camel cigarettes rather, they are designed to look like fire breathing camels. Even less useful are the wooden or leather stuffed camels, which range in price from around £5 (US $8) to about £50 (US $95). Thinking about how much you really want a camel to carry home in your luggage should give you inspiration to haggle the price down a little.