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Where to shop in Dubai

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6 March 2013 by Luke McCormick

Shopping in Dubai is big business, with the sweltering heat of the desert; many take advantage of the air conditioned and elaborately designed malls to indulge in a spot of retail therapy.

The currency of Dubai is the Dirham, but Credit cards are accepted throughout Dubai's malls and shops. If you intend on venturing to the city's traditional markets or souks to pick up a bargain, cash is the payment of choice.

Dubai has turned shopping into an experience, with something for everyone; we've compiled a top five shopping experiences in Dubai.


1.    Dubai Shopping Festival

Each year (from January 3rd to February 3rd) the city holds the month long Dubai Shopping Festival. The festival is tagged as an event or attraction to draw visitors from across the globe to visit the city and its many shops while enjoying:

  • Free entertainment including fashion shows, street performers, light shows and more
  • Fireworks shows, which sometimes stretch for about 6km.
  • Special discounts exclusive to the festival period.
  • Mega-raffles where you could win a car or kilos of gold.

2.    Dubai Mall

There are hundreds of malls to choose from in the city, but Dubai Mall located in downtown Dubai is the biggest. Currently standing as the world's largest shopping and entertainment destination, the mall is a tourist attraction in its own right with over 150 different food outlets to choose from, an aquarium to rival some of the largest in the world, an indoor theme park, 250 room hotel, cinema and an ice rink.

Of course the attractions only make up part of the experience, with around 1200 shops spread across four levels, whether you're after a luxury gift or picking up your weekly groceries.

Shopping highlights at the mall include:

Candylicious - The largest sweet shop in the world at over 10,000 square feet
Cartier - A specially designed boutique designed by renowned French interior designer Bruno Moinard
Damiani - This leading Italian jewellery brand is exclusive to the Dubai Mall

3.    Deira - Souks

There are a range of different souks throughout the city selling traditional goods, spices, textiles, gold and plenty of tacky souvenirs.

Deira is home to a number of souks including the spice souk - a series of narrow lanes with stores running down either side selling all manner of fragrances and spices. Adjacent to the spice souk lays the gold and textile souks.

The gold souk is a big tourist attraction and a real find whether you're in the market for gold, or just interested in window shopping. The huge choice of jewels and spectacular designs on offer has a real wow factor. If you've got the money to spend, the gold souk can be a great place to pick up a unique memento of your time in Dubai.

The textile souks stalls are filled from ceiling to floor with traditional fabrics in a dizzying array of materials and colours, genuine pashminas and handmade fineries. If traditional handmade textiles are your thing, here's the place to find them.

When shopping the souks of Dubai, it's common practice to barter on the price. As a guide you should aim to start at about half of the asking price and work your way up from there.

Dubai's souks are open all year round typically from 9am till 1pm before closing for the hottest part of the day and re-opening for the evening between 4pm and 9pm.

4.    Souk Madinat Jumeirah

The highlight of this souk has to be the traditional Arabian architecture that creates a beautiful, modern take on the classic Dubai souk. This stands in stark contrast to the impressive and elegant- looking Burj Al Arab which provides a breath-taking backdrop (and great photos) for any trip to the souk.

With 95 specially selected boutiques and shops selling a range of fine jewellery, casual and formal fashion and traditional souvenirs you can easily spend a day in retail bliss at this this souk attached to the Al Qasr hotel.

The souk also boasts excellent restaurants and a 442-seat venue in the Madinat Theatre, which often plays home to musicals, theatre performances and stand-up comedy.

If you leave yourself enough time during a visit to the souk, make sure to take an Abra tour around the canals of the resort to gain a unique perspective on the buildings. Tours depart every 20 minutes from a station close by to the souk.

5.    Global village

First held in 1996, the global village is a mixed bag of entertainment, cuisine and shopping that runs for 161 days on the Emirates Road highway in the Dubailand area of the city.

The event brings together 70 different nations across 36 pavilions to market and sell a range of goods, traditional gifts and souvenirs from each nation. Whether you're after jewellery, textiles or accessories, the Global Village is the perfect opportunity to pick up some gifts from Dubai and countries further afield like Thailand or Sri Lanka who attend the event.

As well as shopping, the global village caters for those looking for food and entertainment, with over 50 different fun rides, and 26 restaurants selling food from their respective country.

Shows running throughout the village showcase culture from across all nations, with a mix of Bollywood and Polynesian dancing, Australian aboriginal performances and artists from African nations including Ghana and West Africa.

Making the most of the cooler evenings, the Global village is open from 4pm to 12am most days and usually runs from late October to March the following year.

If visiting, make sure to take a ride on the Ferris wheel where on a clear day you can get good views of the tallest building in the world: Burj Dubai.

Chris Stillwell writes for credit card comparison site Confused.com

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