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Dubai.. A Shopping Paradise

Dubai.. A Shopping Paradise

Dubai justly deserves its title as the "Shopping Capital of the Middle East". Being an open port with low import duties and no taxation, the city offers the bargain hunters unbeatable value. Most major brand-name products are readily available and are often less expensive in Dubai than their country of origin.

Ardent shoppers will find plenty of opportunities to develop their skills and flex their plastic. Prices are competitive for many products, from gold to electronic goods, and textiles to designer labels.

Favourite places to seek your dream items are the magnificent shopping malls, the unassuming souks and the popular streets dispersed all over Dubai.

Modern shopping malls are conveniently located throughout the city, their marble walls and efficient air conditioning providing a cool welcome to the customers. Whether you are looking for French fashion, Japanese electronics or Italian accessories and footwear, Dubai's malls have it all. The popular malls are more than just a place to shop; in the evenings and on weekends, there's a lively, social buzz to them and they are full of people window shopping, meeting friends & eating out.

Souk shopping can be entertaining as well as profitable, and bargaining is expected. The sheer variety of goods available in the winding alleys is bewildering-from gold and latest in electronics, cameras and wrist watches to spices, silks, household appliances and sports goods.

Dubai's major shopping areas include Al Riqqa Road, Karama, Al Dhiyafa Road and Bani Yas Square, not forgetting the Dubai Duty Free complex at the airport.

You will have no problem exchanging money, withdrawing money or paying for goods in Dubai. ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines, service tills or cash points) are readily accessible. Most cards are accepted by the plethora of banks in Dubai, which offer international access through "Cirrus" or "Plus" ATMs. Credit cards are widely accepted, the exception being small traders in souks and local convenience stores. Accepted international credit cards include American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Diners Club.

US currency is also widely accepted, even by ubiquitous local stores. Since the Dirham is pegged to the US dollar, the exchange rate offered is broadly the same throughout Dubai. For the astute shopper though, the bets bargains are secured by using the local currency. There are numerous money exchange bureaus in major shopping area and the souks. Being equipped with dirhams will make shopping a whole lot quicker, hassle free and potentially translate into some cash discounts for you.

Although bargaining is often an alien way of doing business for many, it is a time honoured tradition in this part of the world. Vendors will often drop the price quite substantially for a cash sale, especially in the souks. So relax and take your time- bargaining can be fun!

The key to bargaining is to decide what you are happy to pay for the item and walk away if you don't get it for the desired price. Always be polite and amiable when bargaining. Start with a customary greeting and know the value of the item in the negotiation; you can learn this by scouting around in other shops. Ask the shop assistant how much the item is for and when he tells you, look surprised, or indifferent! In the souk, a common rule is to initiate offer half the quoted price. Once you've agreed to a price, that's it- it's a verbal contract and you are expected to buy. Remember shopkeepers are old pros and have an instinct for a week moment!

Away from souks, bargaining is not a common practice, although many stores often operate a set discount system, saying that the price shown is "before discount". It's always worth asking, especially if you are paying with cash.

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