Dubai offers a number of shopping options, from glitzy shopping malls to the traditional souks, both offering merchandise from around the world to be carefully considered (or haggled over) and bought.
The Souks however are wonderfully colourful, a tad noisy and extremely fascinating. We had great fun exploring the Textile Souk, which is on the Bur Dubai side of the Creek, and consists of a multitude of small shops selling everything from beautiful fabrics to clothes, hand crafted shoes and souvenirs – there are fabulous pashminas in every colour, texture and fabric you can imagine! And just as many traders, each compelling you to purchase their ware, which is of course better (and cheaper) than the rest.
Across the Creek in Deira is the world famous Gold Souk, where the narrow streets and lanes are lined with shops whose glass fronted windows are crammed with gold – from delicate necklaces to large ceremonial pieces and absolutely everything in between. A selection of other merchandise from trinkets to toys as well as ‘guaranteed fake’ bags and watches!
The nearby Spice Souk offers a completely different, more traditional type of experience, where you can imagine the colourful selection of spices with their wonderfully heady aroma having arrived in hessian sacks on a heavily laden dhow… Should you prefer a slightly more sanitary option for buying spices, many of the supermarkets offer much the same variety, but minus the wonderfully sensory experience.
The dhows are no less important now than they were in their maritime trade heyday, when gold, spices and other merchandise was traded across the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Now cargo arriving in Dubai gets unpacked, sorted and exported into the region. It’s quite intriguing seeing refrigerators, beds and other household goods lining the street alongside the Creek waiting to be loaded.
The abra offers a wonderfully inexpensive way to cross the Creek and is the way the locals do it, just realise that during ‘rush hour’ you may have to wait a while. Enjoy a fresh coconut drink, watermelon smoothie or chicken shawarma along the quayside… or even a puff or two of the shisha pipe.
Downtown Dubai is the modern version of old Dubai, and this is where many of the superlatives come in to play! The World’s highest building – the amazing Burj Khalifa; world’s biggest shopping mall – the incredible Dubai Mall and even the world’s largest choreographed dancing fountain – the breathtaking Dubai Fountain which ‘performs’ daily… best option is between 6:00pm and 11:00pm when the shows are every half hour.
This is where many of the locals, expats and visitors come to shop, to dine and to be entertained. Even the kids get to be entertained… and educated at the Dubai Mall’s amazing Kidzania, a ‘town’ where no adults are allowed and the kids get to do ‘life’, spending, working, earning and best of all learning – there’s even a recycling van in their town. It looked such fun – I so wanted to be a kid again!
Every international brand you can image is here, from designer clothes and jewellery to homeware and high tech… and if you visit in January you’ll have the Shopping Festival specials to choose from. Shopping and entertainment in one enormous destination – thankfully the Metro is relatively easy to find with plenty of signage.
Getting around Dubai is really easy… with taxis (the beige ones are way cheaper than the black ones!) and great public transport – we made prolific use of the Metro which gets you in the vicinity of just about everything parallel to Sheikh Zayed road!