Carpet Souk, just south of the Corniche Rd East in Al Mina
Many of the carpets on offer are machine-made copies of traditional designs, but a determined search will normally uncover some high quality handmade carpets and tribal handcrafted designs. Bargaining is required.
Free Zone Market (Iranian Market), on the northern side of the Corniche Rd East by the Dhow Harbour in Al Mina.
A visit here is essential. Lots of knick-knacks, pottery etc. Expect prices to drop by as much as 50 per cent from the original price
Fish Market, near Dhow Harbour, Al Mina
A traditional shopping experience for early risers, the wholesale market starts trading around 4.30 a.m. and closes by 6.30 a.m. Traders sell the freshest fare in bulk for the first two hours of trading before moving on to smaller quantities after 6.30 a.m. as the daily market prepares to open. Wear old shoes that will sustain a smattering of fish blood!
Al Mina Vegetable Market, just before the Dhow Harbour and the Free Zone Market in Al Mina
This market, which stocks a wide range of local and imported fresh produce, is also best visited earlier in the day.
Central Market, in the central Markaziyah area of Abu Dhabi
A major redevelopment of the Central Market has taken place. The atmospheric but run-down souq has been replaced with an air-conditioned bazaar based on traditional Arabian architecture.
Gold Souk, along the East Road beside Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre
This is a modern air-conditioned complex with numerous retail outlets specialising in gold and jewellery.
Qaryat Al Beri Souk, between the two bridges and between Shangri-La and Trader hotels
A recreated Arabian souk with a Venetian theme (canals) offering a spectacular view of Sheikh Zayed Mosque. In addition to retail outlets, the souk has a wide range of restaurants and coffee shops on the waterfront.
Deira Old Souq & Spice Souq, Creekside, Deira
This is Dubais largest and oldest souq. The easiest way to enter is to head for the windtowers on the Deira side of the creek. Slip beneath the arches of the windtowers and you find yourself in the heart of another world. This is a traders paradise, everything from plastic toys to spices are piled high with tiny stores crammed with the useless and the sought after. The best way to navigate is to meander through the alleyways that make up the spice souq heading roughly north to reach the fabric souq. Keep going in the same direction and you will reach the Gold Souq.
If you have time, go to the abra stand on the Bur Dubai side of the Creek up from the HSBC Bank. Ask for the Captains Stores abra stand you cant miss it and catch an abra across to the other side of the Creek. Get off at the stop directly opposite your starting point, ask for the Gold Souq. Walk straight ahead when you disembark, the spice souqs should be on your left and right and the gold souq ahead on the right.
Gold Souq, Al Ras, Deira
It is here that Dubai traditionally lived up to the name City of Gold. The Gold Souq is one of the citys most popular tourist attractions and it is easy to understand why. In the unlikely event that you cannot find what you are looking for, most shops will design jewellery for you and all are happy to mount stones that you have purchased loose. Most jewellery is 24 carat and none is less than 18 carat. Be sure to haggle vehemently and be prepared to walk away if you cannot get the price you require, there will be another shop just a few doors down offering a similar product. Remember to check the daily gold price in the newspapers.
A plethora of alleys behind the main arcade are crammed with traders selling souveniers and silver jewellery, this is the place to head to for ethnic items such as toe-rings and traditional Omani and Yemeni silver jewellery.
Bur Dubai Souq, near Dubai Museum, Bur Dubai
Also known as the Textile Souq, and as Cosmos Souq,this market runs along the creek opposite the Deira Souq. Souvenirs and knick-knacks are on sale but the area is best know for its stunning array of fabrics from the Indian subcontinent and the Far East. Parking is very limited but there is an open air pay and display car park next to Dubai Museum.
Satwa Souq, Satwa
One of Dubais best kept secrets. Satwa Souq is essentially a shopping square but should not be overlooked for those in search of tailor-made clothes or high quality fabrics. The best known and most frequented shops are Regal and Deepaks. Both stores will recommend nearby tailors who will be happy to turn your fabric purchases into perfectly fitting garments.
Karama Souq, Karama, Bur Dubai
Not technically a souq, this tucked away treasure trove of bargains is housed in what is best described as two modern buildings reminiscent of a 1960s UK shopping centre. This is the place to go for leather goods. Expect to pay about two thirds less than you would for similar goods in a shopping mall. Leather handbags and wallets are the best bargains. A few outlets now quote fixed prices and are best avoided since their neighbours will happily haggle over identical goods. Blue Marine is one of the largest and most popular stores.
Fruit and Vegetable Market, near Shindagha Tunnel, Al Shindagha
The largest array of fresh produce in Dubai. Everything is sold by the kilo so dont expect to return unladen. Imported and local produce are on sale. Omani bananas come highly recommended, guaranteed to be the sweetest bananas you have ever tasted. Dont forget to taste the many varieties of local dates.
Fish Market, next to Fruit and Vegetable Market, Al Shindagha
The largest and busiest of Dubais fish markets is well worth a visit if only to see the incredible array of local fish on offer. Blue lobster from Fujairah, baby sharks and metre-long kingfish are just some of the treats in store for the shopper that doesnt mind getting their shoes dirty. Wear waterproof shoes and old clothes.
Souk Al Bahar
Recreating the traditional souk architecture of narrow stone corridors, high archways and subdued lighting, Souk Al Bahar is an eclectic mix of retail outlets, restaurants and cafés along the waterfront on the Old Town Island in ‘Downtown Dubai’ (beside Dubai Mall). High fashion mixes with handicrafts, perfumes and carpets and, of course, there is a wonderful view of Burj Khalifa.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
The meandering alleyways, heavy wooden doors, hanging lanterns and curving arches of this souk, part of the Madinat Jumeirah resort, are designed to resemble ancient Arabian bazaars. Windtowers, palm-trees and winding canals add to the overall effect, whilst retail outlets, restaurants, bars and cafés provide endless shopping, dining and entertainment.
Souq al-Arsah or the Old Souq, Al Muraijia, close to Al Boorj Avenue
Originally known as the Charcoal Souq, this is a place where time appears to have stood still. In times gone by the souq was a meeting place for bedouin and their camels who travelled from the desert to trade charcoal for rice and goods imported from Iran and India. Sympathetically renovated,the Old Souq retains its traditional charm and it is here that visitors get a feel for how the Emirates was before the oil boom.
The bargains are many and on the whole the merchandise is good quality. Antique furniture and handicrafts are particularly good value here. Bargaining is an essential part of the fun.
The Blue Souq, Al Majaz, close to Khalid Lagoon
The most famous souq in Sharjah is also known as the New Souq or Central Market. Built in 1979, the souq is one of the most striking buildings in the emirate. A double row of vaulted, blue tiled buildings are linked by bridges and cooled by windtowers that catch sea breezes from the nearby lagoon.
A variety of retail outlets fill the ground floor whilst the upper storey is crammed with carpet shops selling silk and wool masterpieces from Iran, Pakistan and India. This is certainly an enjoyable destination for those in search of heritage goods. Expect to drink tea with your host the trader and dont forget to bargain.
The bridges that join the upper floor house numerous silver jewellery shops, a treasure trove of wearable antiques.
The Gold Centre, Al Yarmook, at the intersection of Al Qasimi and Al Wahda Streets
Opened in 1996, Sharjahs Gold Centre has become a local shopping landmark. Built in traditional Islamic style, the centre has 44 shops that unite the best jewellers in the country. Bargaining is expected.
Al Majarrah Souq, Sharjah Creek
Built in the 1980s and opened in 1987, the souq is a traditional and striking building. The central gold dome rises majestically above the Creeks skyline as a renowned landmark.
Some 50 shops sell handicrafts, perfumes, textiles and shoes. Very popular with local shoppers.
The Fish Souq, Al Soor, close to the Blue Souq
One of the most vibrant (if smelly) traditional shopping experiences. The daily catch comes in all shapes and sizes, all of it local. For a few extra dirhams your choice purchase will be filleted and even wheeled to your car on an ancient barrow. Wear old shoes and enjoy.
The Fruit and Vegetable Souq, Al Soor, opposite the Fish Souq
One of the most colourful shopping experiences. Traders perch precariously atop their goods and greet every potential purchaser as a long lost friend. Bargain ferociously and enjoy the produce.
The Plant and Pot Souq, Al Soor, close to the fruit and vegetable souq
Bouganvillea, oleanders, hibiscus and periwinkles tumble in abundance from pots and trellises. Traders are quite happy to pot plants up for you and have a wealth of knowledge that they are happy to share. Ceramic pots are good value, but do ask whether they are local or imported, local pots are not waterproof and, whilst cheaper than imported glazed pots, will not last as long.
Iranian Bazaar, along the Creek
Historically the bazaar traded in clothes and gold but today the goods on offer are mostly spices, herbs and textiles. Sadly air-conditioned shops and purpose built souqs are fast replacing the bazaar.
Friday Market, between Dhaid and Masafi on the E88
Originally, as the name suggests, a Friday market for local traders, the roadside market has grown into a favourite stopping place for tourists visiting the East Coast. Open-air stalls sell carpets, pottery, plants, fruit and vegetables and a confusing array of household goods and inflatable toys. Blow up jumbo jets are particularly popular and never seem to go out of fashion! Prices are far cheaper than in souqs in the towns and cities. An excellent place to buy garden pots.
Khor Fakkan Souq, The Corniche, Khor Fakkan
Sharjahs only East Coast town boasts one of the prettiest souqs in the country. Overlooking the Gulf of Oman, the traditional arched building topped by windtowers is the towns best known landmark.
Small outlets sell a mixture of textiles and household goods.
Ajman Souq, Ras al-Khaimah Road
A small purpose-built souq filled with individual outlets. Very competitive compared to larger, more popular souqs but offers limited choice.
Essentially two streets rather than a warren of lanes. Outlets offer mainly traditional Arabic and Pakistani clothes, fabric and household goods.
The Souq, Town centre
A traditional souq offering everything from textiles to household goods. Most fresh produce is locally grown on nearby farms.
Dibba Fishmarket, The beach, Dibba
Split between Oman, Sharjah and Fujairah, the East Coast town of Dibba is uniquely cultural and traditional. The fish market is worth a visit if only to see how things were in the Emirates before oil was discovered. Opening hours are more than a little erratic with stalls opening when fishermen arrive with the days catch and closing when everything is sold. Salted fish are available all day but waking upa sleeping trader can take time!
Individual stalls are scattered throughout the Northern Emirates selling carpets, fresh produce, charcoal, pottery, household goods and inflatable toys! Most provide excellent value for money. Produce is normally fresh and good quality. Most are worth a look and offer visitors a friendly insight into the country.
Sharjah Furniture Shops
Sharjahs warehouse antique furniture shops are popular with residents throughout the region but remain largely undiscovered by visitors. The best known and longest established shops are Pinkys, Luckys, Khan Sons and Al Barjeel Furniture..All have outlets in the Old Souq, but for the ultimate choice visitors need to venture out of town to the industrial area beyond the city.
Tables, chairs, blanket boxes, wardrobes, carved doors, whatever your choice Pinkys and Luckys are likely to have it in store. Both outlets stock a wide range of hand-painted furniture from Rajasthan as well as a wealth of solid wood furniture from across the Indian subcontinent. Some items are genuinely antique whilst others are newly made from old timber. Prices are sometime as much as two thirds cheaper than those asked for the same items in furniture shops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Haggling is expected and home delivery available for a small charge.
Return to top Return to Shopping - Main Index