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Souvenir Shopping (Self Guided), Dubai

It would be a pity to leave Dubai without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Dubai, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: United Arab Emirates » Dubai (See other walking tours in Dubai)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.1 Km or 3.8 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Naif Souq
  • Dubai Perfume Souk
  • Deira Gold Souk
  • Spice Souq
  • Burjuman Center
  • Karama Souq
Naif Souq

1) Naif Souq

What to buy here: Abayas: These are essentially loose black robes that are worn over one’s regular clothing by Muslim women. This can be worn with the niqab or the veil that covers the face and hair except the eyes. In some Arab countries, the abaya has evolved to include some fashionable elements of color and embellishments allowing the garment to do its job of keeping a woman modest while giving her something to enhance her outward appearance. Intricate threadwork can be found on the veils, down the body of the robe, around the cuffs and around the hem of the robe. Some of them even allow for the use of artificial stones to enhance the look of the abaya. If you want to buy abayas steer clear of the shops in the malls, instead head to Souk Naif in Deira and all the roads surrounding it. The Islamic wear shops in Dubai and Sharjah are also good bets. Good quality abayas are available in the range of 100 to 300 Dirhams.
Dubai Perfume Souk

2) Dubai Perfume Souk

Perfume Souk is a cluster of perfume shops on Sikkat Al Khail Road, to the east of the Gold Souk. Here you can find virtually any imaginable aroma, from the latest creations to the traditional Arabic attars, fragrant wood, incense burners, etc. The whole area is so intensely fragrant and spicy, just as a true oriental scent should be, so there's no chance you can miss it.

What to buy here: Perfume holders or stands – Dubai’s perfumers are of world renown. You can even create a brand new fine fragrance to match a loved one’s tastes. Classic perfume stands are designed from crystal and glass to hold some of the best fragrances that can be found in Dubai. Perfume holders come in varied shapes and sizes and your choice will depend on the tastes of the person you plan to gift it to. Most perfume stands come with a gold base with intricate carving on it. These are sometimes embellished with semi-precious stones. The body of the holder is usually of glass and in some models has some overlay work done in gold. These designs are generally Arabian in nature and reminiscent of ancient Muslim architecture. The caps of the holders are done up in myriad shapes further enhancing the beauty of these perfume holders. You can find a mind-boggling range of these at the Dubai Perfume Souk and at Al Nabeel Perfumes & Cosmetics Showroom. Perfumes and perfume stands can begin at 100 Dirhams and go up from there, depending on the ingredients used.
Deira Gold Souk

3) Deira Gold Souk (must see)

If you want to take a present home from your visit to Dubai, or if you would like to treat yourself, go to the Deira Gold Souk on Khalid Bin Waleed Road.

The souk is a traditional market with over 300 merchants who sell gold, platinum, diamonds, emeralds and rubies. All of these are the genuine article, so you don’t need to be worried about being ripped off, as you could well be by the street sellers outside the market.

As you go through the huge double wooden gates at the entrance, it really is like finding yourself in Ali-Baba’s cavern! You will see one of the best and most extensive ranges of gold and jewelry in the world.

Each shop has a different display in its window and a master craftsman in each shop is on hand to personalize any item you wish to buy. You will find traditional or modern jewelry in green, red, pink, white or yellow gold, in platinum and occasionally in silver.

There are no price tags attached to the items and if you ask the price, it will seem expensive, but haggling is expected and you can bring the price down by half if you are good at bartering. Even if you are new at the game, just remember to keep a poker face and don’t worry about pretending to give up and turning away. If you don’t get what you want in one shop, you’ll find it in another and the merchants know this, so it’s a good ruse to bring the prices down.

Negotiate and get at least a 15-20% discount on making charges as gold price as per weight and quality is generally fixed.
Open throughout the year, the place particularly comes alive in the evenings when it shines and glitters everywhere.

Opening Hours:
Sat-Thu: 9:30am-9:30pm; Fri: 4-9:30pm
Spice Souq

4) Spice Souq (must see)

Dubai is a fantastic mixture of futuristic buildings and traditional areas, one of which is the Spice Souk on Sikkat Al Khail Road in the Deira district.

The souk is the largest and oldest in Dubai and consists of an open and roofed market with narrow cobblestone lanes, where you will find all the spices you know and a lot you will have never heard of. The smoky, spicy odors, the noise of the merchants and customers and the bright colours will give you the feeling of stepping back in time. When you buy your spices, they aren’t packed in plastic bags, but in hessian pouches to keep them fresh for longer.

Spices aren’t the only things you will find in the wonderful souk. Many stalls sell fine leather goods: shoes, bags and belts. Other stalls offer cheap electronic goods, mostly from India and you can find beautifully decorated Hookah’s (water-pipes) and Shisha (tobacco) in different fragrances. Even if you are a non-smoker, these water-pipes make a lovely decoration item.

The best time to visit the souk is in the early evening when it’s cooler, because although the shops are air-conditioned, the lanes aren’t. Many stands offer refreshing mint tea or fresh fruit juice. The spices aren’t very expensive – even the Saffron is reasonably priced, but you really should haggle with the merchant – it’s expected and it’s also part of the fun!

What to buy here: Incense holders – An important part of any Arab culture, incense holders from Dubai make rich and elegant gifts. They are a part of the region’s culture and hospitality. Incense holders usually contain frankincense or myrrh which impart a rich, sweet fragrance. If you have the good fortune to be invited to a traditional wedding in Dubai, you will have these rich bejeweled containers brimming with fragrant smoke passed around you as a sign of welcome. They are also used at religious celebrations like Eid, at births etc. Incense burners are available at most malls. But a much more fun place to procure them is at the Spice Souq in Old Deira, where you can also pick up incense, coals and other essentials. The best time to go is around 5 pm in the evening. If you have to shop in the morning, get an early start as most shops here will down their shutters around 1 pm for a short break when the heat reaches its peak. If you don’t want to carry a regularly sized holder back, a great buy is an electric incense burner which can be plugged into your car’s charger. It is available at the Deira Souk and costs $5 which is 15 Dirhams (the local currency).

The best thing is to form a relationship with the seller. Just have fun and remember this is a really good place to get quality spices if you take your time and know what you are looking for.

Opening Hours:
Sat-Thu: 10am-1pm / 4-10pm; Fri: 4-10pm
Burjuman Center

5) Burjuman Center

What to buy here: Attar – Historically, the shortage of water made women in particularly use these intensely smelling oils to perfume themselves. Even today you will get a whiff of strong and exotic scents when you walk past Arab women. Attars are oils made by distilling flower petals in water under mild heat and pressure. Oils and spices can also be added and the resulting mixture is mixed into mild sandalwood oil. This is allowed to rest until the sandalwood oil has completely absorbed the perfume of the distilled essential oil. The intense fragrances of essential oils are available as a set of the most appealing fragrances, including the popular white musk and rose. A must visit destination is the Perfume Souk on Sikkat al-khail street. Here you will find bottles upon bottles of various sizes and shapes, all containing the heady aromas of pure attars. They can also be found at major retail conglomerates such as , Al Falah Plazas, Geant hypermarket – The Gardens Mall Dubai and Burjuman Center , Dubai. Prices start at about 50 Dirhams for 10ml of Attar.

Operation hours: Saturday- Wednesday: 10 am- 10 pm; Thursday-Friday: 10 am- 11 pm.
Karama Souq

6) Karama Souq

What to buy here: Aladdin lamps | Hookahs | Lanterns | Traditional Arab shoes.

Alladins lamps – The legend and mystery of Alladin find their home in these brass lamps inlaid with stones or intricate carving. Smaller versions of these can be tucked away into suitcases and make exotic gifts for those back home. Karama Souk is not a traditional bazaar but a leisurely stroll along the pavements will allow you to unearth a few of these jeweled treasures. Another sure bet is the Al-karama market next to the fish market in Bur Dubai. While you can hone your haggling skills here, a beautifully carved lamp or one with lots of stones or inlay work will definitely set you back by a few hundred Dirhams.

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Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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One big shopping center, such as Dubai, makes it easy and hard, at the same time, to stop one's choice on a proper souvenir to take home. A handful of gems, a Rolex watch, maybe, or a flying carpet... All of these may last in time, but come at a price. Here are some of the more traditional and,...