Shopper’s Paradise: A Guide to Shopping in United Arab Emirates

A Guide to Shopping in United Arab Emirates

With vibrant, bustling souks and world-class, dazzling malls, the United Arab Emirates really is a shopping paradise that beckons you in with the promise of luxury, traditional goods, and everything in between. From some of the most exquisite jewellery you’ll find on Earth to delicious spices, there really is something on sale for everyone.

But what are some of the best things you can buy in the United Arab Emirates, and where can you buy them? At Crown Currency Exchange, we’ve answered these questions and more with this ultimate guide. So, get ready to indulge your senses and embrace cultural delights as we take you on a tour of shopping in the UAE!

What to Buy When Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

What to Buy When Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

While the United Arab Emirates has become renowned for selling luxury items that most people would find unaffordable, there is actually a wider market with something to offer everyone. Here are some of the things we recommend checking out on any UAE shopping trip, from expensive goods to things that suit more of a modest budget.

Jewellery

Dubai is well-known for its gold souks, where you can find a wide range of gold jewellery in both traditional designs and modern styles. As with any kind of jewellery, the cost will depend on the quality, craftsmanship and brand, as well as any precious stones included in the piece.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that gold is totally unaffordable as a shopping option, though. Depending on the current Dubai Retail Gold Rate, you may be able to pick up a beautiful piece of 18K gold jewellery for as little as د.201.75 AED ($83 AUD).

Textiles and Fabrics

You’ll find a huge variety of textiles and fabrics at souks, including silk, cotton, and wool. Traditional Arabic textiles with intricately embroidered designs are also on sale, and shawls are a particular favourite with tourists looking for souvenirs from their travels.

Prices for shawls and other fabrics vary, with viscose costing around 30د. AED ($12 AUD) on average, and real pashmina costing an average of د.250 AED ($102 AUD).

Spices

Any food lover or enthusiast home cook can’t visit the United Arab Emirates without a trip to the colourful souks selling spices. Here, you’ll find saffron, cardamom, and spice mixes in abundance, including those used in certain Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines.

It’s quite normal to bargain for prices at spice souks, but everything is priced quite low to start with. For example, you can expect to pay an average of د.20 AED ($8 AUD) per bag, but it’s worth coming in with an offer of around 50% less when bargaining. Don’t be scared to do this, as it is expected and part of UAE customs.

Electronics

The United Arab Emirates is a global hub for electronics shopping, and you’ll find tech everywhere, from high-end electronics stores to bargain markets like the Dragon Mart in Dubai.

As you’d expect from electronics, prices vary quite significantly depending on what you’re buying. To keep your costs low, it’s worth checking out prices in various stores and markets before settling on your final place of purchase.

Traditional Clothing

You can find a variety of traditional Arabic clothing throughout the United Arab Emirates, too, including abayas, kanduras, and shaylas. You may also want to make visiting a clothing store a top priority when you arrive in the UAE, as there are certain cultural rules to follow, such as covering your hair when visiting a mosque.

A shayla (scarf) is perfect for in this instance, and you can pick one up from a souk for around د.40 AED ($16 AUD).

Art & Handicrafts

There is a thriving arts and handicrafts scene in the United Arab Emirates, with local artisans producing a variety of beautiful pottery, glassware, and traditional Emirati crafts.

Prices vary on handicrafts, depending on what you’re buying, with more intricately designed products costing more. Bartering is expected at many souks selling art and handmade crafts, so don’t be afraid to go in lower than the asking price and work your way up with the vendor.

Camel Milk Chocolate

Camel Milk Chocolate is one of the most interesting things you can pick up when shopping in the United Arab Emirates, and it makes great souvenirs for your friends and family.

It’s fairly inexpensive, too, and you can expect to pay an average of د.44 AED ($18 AUD) per bar.

Best Places for Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Best Places for Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Now you know some of the things you should definitely check out when shopping in the United Arab Emirates, let’s take a look at some of the best places to go on a shopping spree!

The Dubai Mall

The largest shopping centre in the world by total area, The Dubai Mall really is a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find over 1,200 retail outlets here, including high-end fashion brands, electronic stores, department stores, and dining options. There’s even an underwater zoo and an ice rink!

Mall of the Emirates

This iconic mall is home to over 600 retail outlets, including many world-famous fashion brands and luxury boutiques. This isn’t only a great place to indulge in some retail therapy, though. The Mall of the Emirates also houses Ski Dubai (the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East), making it a fantastic place to spend an entire day out.

Ibn Battuta Mall

Inspired by the travels of the 14th-century explorer Ibn Battuta, the Ibn Battuta Mall is a themed shopping experience that is divided into six different zones. Each zone represents a different region visited by the explorer, offering a unique shopping experience across 270 stores, a cinema complex, and various dining options.

Dubai Marina Mall

Located in the heart of the Dubai Marina district, Dubai Marina Mall is a waterfront shopping destination that offers stunning views across the marina. Here, you’ll find a mix of high-street brands and boutiques interspersed with waterfront dining options.

The Best Souks in the United Arab Emirates

The Best Souks in the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is known for its vibrant souks, which, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, are traditional markets offering a wide range of goods. Here are some of the best souks in the UAE that we recommend visiting:

Dubai Gold Souk

Located in the historic Deira district, the Dubai Gold Souk is one of the oldest and most famous gold markets in the world. You’ll find hundreds of shops here selling gold jewellery in both modern and traditional designs, as well as precious stones and diamonds.

Dubai Spice Souk

Adjacent to the Gold Souk in Deira, you’ll find the Dubai Spice Souk, which is a bustling market selling a wide variety of spices, herbs, nuts, and dried fruits. You’ll also find handmade perfumes on sale here, and the narrow alleys filled with aromatic spices really do ignite the senses for an unforgettable shopping experience.

Souk Madinat Jumeriah

Modelled on a traditional Arabian Souk, Souk Madinat Jumeriah is located within the Madinat Jumeriah resort complex and features over 75 boutique shops selling jewellery, fashion, handicrafts, and souvenirs.

Sharjah Central Souk

Also known as the Blue Souk due to its striking blue-tiled facade, Sharjah Central Souk is a major shopping destination in Sharjah and offers a wide range of goods, including carpets, textiles, and jewellery, as well as many dining options.

The Best Modern Malls in the United Arab Emirates

The Best Modern Malls in the United Arab Emirates

As you might expect from a country known for luxury, the United Arab Emirates is home to some of the most impressive and modern malls in the world. Here are some that we don’t think any trip to UAE is complete without visiting:

Yas Mall

Located on Yas Island, Yas Mall is one of the largest shopping malls in Abu Dhabi, and it offers a diverse range of retail outlets, including international and local fashion brands. You’ll also find specialty stores here, along with a cinema complex and entertainment venues like KidZania and Yas Marina Circuit.

The Galleria

Situated on Al Maryah Island, The Galleria is one of Abu Dhabi’s premier luxury shopping destinations. Here, you’ll find a curated selection of high-end fashion brands, designer boutiques, and luxury retailers, along with waterfront dining options and upscale amenities.

The Dubai Mall at Al Qasr

An extension of the world-famous Dubai Mall, the Al Qasr branch is located within the super-luxurious Al Qasr Hotel at Madinat Jumeirah and offers a boutique shopping experience. You’ll find a more intimate, exclusive way of shopping compared to the main Dubai Mall here and be able to browse jewellery, fashion, and other high-end items.

Best Places for Clothes Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Best Places for Clothes Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Whether you’re looking for high-end designer fashion or affordable streetwear, the UAE also offers a range of amazing places to go clothes shopping. Here are some of our favourites:

The Outlet Village

Located near Dubai Parks and Resorts, The Outlet Village offers discounted prices on premium and luxury fashion brands, making it ideal for any fashion lover looking for bargains. Here, you’ll find a range of items from renowned designers, including Armani, Michael Kors, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Al Wahda Mall

Another of Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping malls, Al Wahda Mall offers a diverse range of clothing options to suit different tastes and budgets. The mix of shops here is diverse as well and includes local boutiques and large department stores.

The Walk at JBR

A popular outdoor shopping and dining destination, The Walk at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) offers a range of fashion stores offering trendy clothing, beachwear, and accessories. There’s always a buzzing atmosphere here, too, making it one of the most exciting places for shopping in the United Arab Emirates.

Top Tip: Regardless of where you want to go shopping, it’s best to pay using cash in the United Arab Emirates, as this will save you fees on ATM withdrawals and when using your cards. You can get the best rates on AUD to AED here.

Tips for Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Tips for Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Whether you’re drawn to the splendour of luxury malls or prefer the busyness of the souks, there are some important things you need to know when shopping in the United Arab Emirates. Check out our top tips below.

Shopping Etiquette and Cultural Sensitivity

When you’re shopping in the United Arab Emirates, it’s important to be mindful of local customs and cultural sensitivities to ensure a positive and respectful experience.

One of the most important things you can do when shopping is dress modestly, especially when you’re visiting traditional souks or more conservative areas. Avoid revealing clothing, such as low-cut tops and short skirts, and choose something that covers your shoulders and knees.

It’s also a good idea to start your shopping experience with a polite greeting, such as “As-salamu-alaykum”. This is a common courtesy in the UAE and helps establish more of a friendly rapport with vendors, especially those you’re hoping to bargain with. You should also say “Shukran” (which means “Thank You”) when you’ve completed your purchase.

On the subject of bargaining, while this is common practice in traditional souks, it isn’t appropriate in modern malls or upscale boutiques. Here, the prices are set, and an attempt to lower them will not be appreciated!

Practical Advice for Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

It’s also important to be prepared and aware throughout your trip to the United Arab Emirates, and doing so will ensure you get the most enjoyable shopping experience possible.

Firstly, make sure you stay hydrated. The UAE can get very hot, especially during the summer months, so carry a bottle of water with you while you’re shopping. This is very important if you’re planning to explore outdoor markets or walk between malls.

You should also wear comfortable footwear while shopping, as many malls and shopping areas are quite expansive and cover a lot of ground. Likewise, plan your transportation if you’re visiting multiple shopping destinations throughout the day, using rideshare apps or public transportation to get around.

Don’t be disheartened if your regular size isn’t quite right when shopping in the United Arab Emirates, either. Sizing here is quite likely different to that in your home country, so familiarise yourself with sizing charts and don’t be afraid to try items on before you purchase to ensure a proper fit.

Budget Your Money for Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Another good tip for shopping in the United Arab Emirates is to budget your money before your trip. Think about how much money you can realistically afford to spend on shopping throughout your holiday, create a travel budget, and allocate a specific amount for shopping.

You can also make a list of the items you know you’ll want to purchase and prioritise them on both importance and budget. That way, you’ll be able to focus on essential purchases and avoid accidentally overspending on impulse buys.

Remember, negotiating in souks is part of the United Arab Emirates culture, and you can save some money by negotiating wisely. Set yourself a budget, act respectfully while bargaining, and don’t exceed what you’re willing to pay. You’ll find there’s a lot of power in walking away if there’s no way of shifting the price with the vendor either, and you may get called back and offered the price you want.

Get the Best Rates on United Arab Emirates Dirham at Crown Currency

With so much on offer and so many different places to enjoy shopping, the United Arab Emirates is a must-visit for any shopaholic! There’s also something to suit every budget, and you certainly don’t need to be mega-rich to enjoy a shopping spree here.

One thing you should do, however, is take United Arab Emirates Dirham with you. Exchanging your money before your trip means that you’ll get better rates, won’t be charged ATM fees, and won’t incur International Payment Fees charged by your bank or credit card provider.

At Crown Currency Exchange, you’ll find the best rates on AUD to AED with no commission fees or hidden costs. Visit one of our many branches and speak with our expert team today to get one step closer to your United Arab Emirates shopping trip!

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