Dubai Gold Souk
Many regular holidaymakers to Dubai cannot leave without making atleast one stop to the famous Deira gold souk. If you are looking to buy gold jewellery for a wedding, for yourself or looking to sell off your old unwanted gold, Deira gold souk is the place to come. Gold souks in the UAE are the biggest re-importer of gold so the selection on offer at the various outlets are huge, especially the one in Deira. Quality is brilliant as careful monitoring regularly takes place in order to avoid fake pieces being sold and the price of gold pieces are very competitive because you wont find heavy charges on workmanship compared to western countries. If you want to experience an outdoor souk experience with the hustle and bustle of over 300 stores, make the Deira gold souk on your top list of things to do.
Gold and Diamond Park
For a quieter and cooler shopping experience, head to the covered Gold and Diamond Park located on Sheikh Zayed Road. Here you’ll find about 90 retailers and some of the popular well known chains such as Damas.
Dubai Mall Gold Souk
If you are pressed for time and need to hunt some gold studs, Dubai Mall as a separate gold section within the mall with about 40 shops. These shops will be open all day in accordance with mall opening hours.
Points of note:
Beware of the hawkers around the souk area trying to sell you their fake handbags, copy watches and knocked off clothing. If you give them eye contact they wont leave you alone!
If you want to combine Meena Bazaar with the Deira Gold Souk, why not take a 5 minute abra ride across Dubai creek for as little as 1 AED. Far easier and definitely cheaper then taking a taxi and you will love the experience
When – The small shops within Deira gold souk normally operate on a split shift basis, so you’ll find the smaller independent stores will shut between 2-5pm. The larger chains such as Damas and Marhaba may work through the day, but enquire first. If you are holidaying when its extremely warm, best to visit the gold souk from 5pm, but it could be busy. If you can handle the heat – go earlier! If visiting on a Friday, most shops will be shut till 4pm.
Location – Best to get to all the above locations by taxi. Just give the driver the place you want to visit. I(f you are feeling really adventurous, walk around the immediate gold shops and you’ll soon discover a hidden gem of more backstreet shops selling funny bric-a-brac and plastic wares which you may be tempted by.
Cost – how big is your wallet?
Deira, is probably renowned for the famous gold souk, however once you begin your adventure, you may want to explore the surrounding backstreet shops for more potential gift ideas.
Perfume Souk Dubai
If you want to concoct your own Arabic scent, and you have sampled the scents of the Arabian Oud and similar smells in the malls, then the Pefume Souk is for you. The smell of Arabian perfume is completely different to western scents and is oil based, so consider this before you commit your money.
Location – Near the Deira Gold souk, if the creek is behind you (in the distance) walk towards your right.
Spice souk Dubai
The spice souk is the one souk that actually feels like a souk. The smell of spice is great as you walk through the tight alleyways and streets. Worth the walk through to see all the spices piled high, and to buy your discount saffron.
When – Again the stalls here will operate the split shift so avoid going in the middle of the day.
Location – The spice souk is located near the Deira gold souk near the creekside, i.e. where you would catch the abra to head back to Bur Dubai.
Meena Bazaar, also known as Souk al Kabeer or Textile souk.
Meena Bazaar is noisy and has the brightest colours in the store fronts. This is the place to get your material and clothing for your Indian clothes or find some beautiful ready made pieces straight from designers in India and Pakistan. Meena Bazaar is falling apart, tacky and has the greatest heart but is worth a trip to see the heart of India in the heart of Dubai.
Points to Note – If you want to combine Meena Bazaar with the Deira Gold Souk, why not take a 5 minute abra ride across Dubai creek for as little as 1 AED. Far easier and definitely cheaper then taking a taxi and you will love the experience.
For ready made Indian suits and sarees we love Tia Fashion. For a place to stitch your fabrics into your own creation within a couple of days go to Dream Girl or Grace Taylors. If making clothing is your thing, then Satwa, which is basically a square is worth going to, if you have the time.
When – The majority of shops in Meena Bazaar operate the split shift so avoid going in the middle of the day.
Location – Get their by taxi and say Meena Bazaar or Al Fahidi Street.
Cost – It’s a free experience, but you’re bound to open your wallet!
Karama Market Dubai
This is fake central. If that is what you want, this the place to get your knocked off goods.
Covered, air-conditioned souks
Khan Murjan, Wafi Mall.
Khan Murjan is a new area in Wafi City Mall, which has more than 150 shops with traders selling a variety of handicrafts. The ambience is authentic with dark wood features and small shops selling shawls, belly dancing gear and more. If you can catch it during the day you will see the light coming through the amazing stained glass window. And once you have finished your shopping, have some coffee or shisha near the waterwheel in the courtyard.
Souk, Madinat Jumeirah
The Souk at Madinat Jumeirah precedes Khan Murjan by a few years and in its airy wooden interior, you feel somewhat taken back in time. The stores are more expensive, but some of them are exclusive. This is something not to miss if you are spending a day or evening at Madinat Jumeirah.
Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Burj Dubai
Souk Al Bahar is located in at Downtown Burj Dubai just the short walk across the bridge from Dubai Mall. The Souk Al Bahar has a modern day feel and attitude to a souk, with restaurants and some retail shopping outlets including several pashmina shawl shops, souvenir and Moroccan lighting. It is fairly new and most shops haven’t set up yet, so it will be interesting to see in a year or so. We can imagine this place will be a tourist shopping hotspot as it is right near the Burj Khalifa. For a meal to remember, get an outdoor table at one of the bordering restaurants and enjoy fantastic views of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain.
Al Jaber Gallery, Mall of the Emirates
Sometime you want to just get the gifts without the buzz of the market. This is exactly what Al Jaber does. Located in the middle of the Mall of the Emirates, you can pick up your bits and pieces, so it seems as if you have done the trawl for your friends and family. This is market shopping cheating at its best. No haggling, no buzz, just good quality souvenirs in one place.
Other Souks outside Dubai worth checking out:
The Blue Souk in Sharjah sells traditional objects in a different environment with big discounts on carpets and furniture.
The Fujairah Market is almost a step back in history and you can see how markets probably operated back in the day
The Souk Al Arsah in Sharjah is as traditional as it comes, having been rebuilt exactly to specification – it’s worth checking out if making a trip to Sharjah Museum.
The New Souk at Khor Fakkan overlooks the gulf and would be one of the places you would visit if you traveled here. An eye catching and charismatic little spot.
Abu Dhabi doesn’t have as many great souks. Sometimes you’ll get lucky at the Iranian souk in Mina with Iranian hand painted goods, but you may just end up looking through plastic bits and pieces. The old souk was knocked down a few years ago, and the brand new central souk is a modern day version of the souks..
Places not worth going to if you are on holiday would be the fish souk – unless you like watching people buying fish, the electronics souk, where you cant judge the quality of product and the Deira covered souk, which is odd clothing plus cheap stuff stuff for your house.
And if you forget to get your souvenir, the Dubai Duty Free feels like a souk itself with all that is on offer.