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What to buy in Dubai

What to buy in Dubai

Arabian Souvenirs
For visitors and residents alike, many items from this part of the world make novel souvenirs, gifts or ornaments for the home. Historically this was a Bedouin culture and possessions had to be practical and transportable, reflecting the nomadic lifestyle of the indigenous population. Prices and quality of traditional items vary enormously and these days many come from India or Oman. The souks usually offer the best prices, but you will find something to suit all budgets here.

Carpets are a favourite buy. Don't forget to take your time and see as many choices as possible. Deira Tower shopping mall in Baniyas Square has largest number of carpet outlets under one roof, with the majority of traders from Iran. As part of the Dubai Shopping Festival, a carpet souk is set up in a large air-conditioned tent, usually near the Creek. Here you can find a mind boggling choice of carpets at excellent prices.

Other items to buy with local themes include the symbol of Arabic hospitality: the coffee pots and cups, worry or prayer beads plus wooden knick knacks, such as dhows, falconry accoutrement and wooden canes. Genuine and old traditional items, such as wedding chests are usually expensive and increasingly difficult to fine in UAE. However modern antiqued copies are widely available.

Ancient looking rifles, muzzle loading guns and the functional and decorative dagger, a short curved knife in an elaborately wrought sheath, are also popular buys. Traditional jewellery made of heavy silver and crafted into engraved necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings are coveted forms of historical art, especially as many of the larger make excellent pictures if they are mounted behind glass in a frame. A good place for all round selection of Arabian goods at comparable prices is Arabian Treasures at Deira City Centre. Housed in a separate wing of the mall, this modern souk comprises various cultural and heritage stores and is an ideal 'one stop shop' for the tourists.

Amidst delicious flavours, look out for the tasty Lebanese sweets, often made from pastry, honey and ground nuts and dates, or fresh dates supplied by the main producers from around the world. Iranian caviar is widely available and very good value, and is sold without import duty or valued added tax.

Finally there are the usual tourist souvenirs of fluffy camels and the sand pictures with glass panels which contain the seven different coloured sands of the seven emirates.

However, if you are looking for a more up-market and easily transported souvenir of the UAE, a good coffee table book, with lovely pictures and information on UAE, is worth a try!

A reasonable selection of English language books is sold in Dubai, covering a range of subjects, from the latest bestsellers, travel or computing book, to children's books and coffee table books on the Emirates. You will also find a variety of foreign magazines and daily newspapers flown in regularly. Most of the larger hotels also have small bookshops offering a limited choice, including the latest fiction and books on the Emirates.

Cards and Stationery
Most supermarkets and book stores carry a good supply of postcards, greeting cards, wrapping paper and stationery. However, there are some specialty stores in this field. Here you can find the best variety in Dubai, especially for cards, where they offer everything form Christmas or Easter to Mother's Day and Eid cards.

While postcards are a bargain, greeting cards tend to be expensive, especially those celebrating special occasions or holidays. Locally produced cards are much cheaper, more original and often better quality- they can be found in most card shops and usually feature local artists' work.

Dubai is a fashionista's heaven-here you will find everything from the priciest designer shops, to up-to-the-minute boutiques, to pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap bargain basements. The latest fashion trends from around the world are all reflected in the fashion outlets of the city, at prices to suit all budgets.

Up-market stores dedicated to designer names are mainly found in the shopping malls and hotel arcades. However, most malls have a good mixture of inexpensive and quality clothing. The shopping areas of Satwa and Karama offer a heady mixture of boutiques and shops selling an amazing range of fashionable, up to the minute items, at very good prices.

An alternative to buying clothes off the rack is to have them custom made by a tailor, and there are numerous places around the city offering this service.

Electronics & Home Appliances
A wide selection of electronics and home appliances is available in the Emirates, and prices are generally lower than in most parts of the world. Bargaining will reduce the price further. Shops stock well known as well as not-so-instantly-recognizable brands.

Remember to check that items have a worldwide warranty and that you are buying a model which will operate in your home country.

Dubai is famous throughout this part of the world as the 'City of Gold' as it sells and imports/re-exports a vast amount of this beautiful metal. A walk around the Gold Souk is more than enough to confirm that the title is richly deserved. It's available in 18, 21, 22 or 24 carat, in every form imaginable, from bracelets, rings and necklaces to gold ingots, and is priced according to the international daily god rate.

In addition to the weight price, a small charge will be added for craftsmanship, which varies according to the intricacy of the design. Dubai's Gold Souk is famed all over the world for its low prices and sheer variety on offer.

Jewellery & Watches
When it comes to watches and jewellery, Dubai is almost guaranteed to be able to supply whatever you are looking for. Prices range from a few dirhams to diamond studded watches costing many thousands of dirhams. Don't forget to check put the souks- here you will find all kinds of designs, for all ages and tastes.

Appropriately for the City of Gold, jewellery comes in many forms, with cultures pearls from Japan, or classic, ethnic creations form India. The standard of workmanship can vary, so if you are spending a lot of money, it is worth going to a reputable store.

Leather & Luggage
Like the memories of Dubai, good leather lasts forever. Imagination and artistry combine in a wide range of fine leather goods, from key rings, gloves or wallets to handbags, shoes and suitcases etc. A wide range of styles and prices are available, but for less expensive items don't forget to check out Al Karama.

Music & Videos
Although the selection isn't as large or as up-to-date as in North America, Asia or Europe, there are now Tower Records and Virgin 'megastores' in Dubai selling the latest current releases on CD, DVD, and video. From famous international bands, Arabic or classic music, to Bollywood and Hollywood releases, Dubai caters for a variety of styles and tastes. However, CDs, DVDs and videos are only released once they have been screened (and censored if appropriate) to ensure that they do not offend the country's morals codes.

Perfumes & Cosmetics
Beauty in Dubai is a big business, and whether the temperature goes up or down, there's always a busy trade in perfumes and cosmetics. Just about every perfume in the world is available somewhere and new fragrances are for sale almost as soon as they are launched in their country of origin.

For a more personalized fragrance, look out for the local perfumeries that are in every shopping area, and are a vital part of the locals' grooming ritual. Fragrances tend to combine a heady mix of aromatic Arabian oils, which are individually blended.

Shoes come in as many shapes and sizes as there are feet! You'll find a wide range of styles, from luxurious Italian designer labels to high fashion or comfortable casual wear, all in variety of colours and materials. Prices vary from just a few dirhams to many hundreds.

Sporting Goods
Dubai is a great location for a wide variety of sports, from the more common tennis, sailing of golf, to less conventional activities like sand skiing. There's range of specialist sports shops around the city, and unless yours is an unusual sport or you require more specialized piece of equipment, you should have little difficulty finding what you want.

On both sides of the Creek, you can find loads of fabric shops, selling everything form the cheapest to the finest quality of textiles from around the world. In particular, Al Faheidi Street and Cosmos Lane in Bur Dubai have an excellent choice. Sales occur quite frequently in this area, particularly around major holidays and the Dubai Shopping Festival. If you prefer shopping in air-conditioned comfort, most of the larger shopping malls have a choice of textiles shops.

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