Shopping in Dubai: the souks

By Alex Ritman, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on Dubai.

Overall rating:4.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
Recommended for:
Cultural, Shopping, Free, Budget, Mid-range, Expensive

Shopping in Dubai isn't all about absolutely enormous shopping centres (but only just). We've also a got a few traditional-ish Arabian souks worthy of an afternoon's wander

Despite having a near-daft array of massive shopping centres, each with preposterous amounts of non-shopping activities inside (skiing, skydiving, the list goes on), we also have a few souks, the traditional Arabian markets, that are well worth an explore.

Now, these aren't like the vast souks of Damascus or the bazaars of Istanbul that have remained almost untouched for centuries, but are probably the closest thing you'll get to 'old Arabia' in a city only a few decades old. Most are situated down by the Dubai Creek, on the Bastakiya side and the Deira side, and can be explored in one pleasant afternoon, which should also feature a ride across the creek in one of the traditional wooden abra boats. One important thing to note is that the most of the shops in the souks are closed on Fridays.

The Textile Souk

Next to the Dubai Museum down by the Bastakiya (the 'old' part of town) and the Dubai Creek, this charming series of traditional looking alleyways house numerous shops selling material, but also various stalls for tourists flogging cheap clothing and tatty souvenirs. It's a great place to stock up on pashminas, which are handy (and inexpensive) gifts to take home. I heartily recommend interrupting your perusing of the shops with a stop at Bait Al Wakeel, a good local restaurant looking out over the creek.

Nearest hotel: Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa

The Spice Souk

Get an abra ride over the creek to the Deira side for one dirham, cross the road and you'll probably smell the spice souk before you see it. It's not the biggest of places, consisting of just a couple of lines of shops. But, even if you're not interested in picking up some cardamom pods or cinnamon sticks, it is definitely worth visiting and the shopkeepers will often invite you inside to smell the various herbs and spices.

Nearest hotel: Hilton Dubai Creek

The Gold Souk

Dubai's most famous souk sits further into Deira and about five minutes' walk from the Spice Souk. It is based around a covered, pedestrianised strip lined with shop windows glittering in all things golden. Even if you're not after something sparkly, it's still a good place to stroll around.

Nearest hotel: Hilton Dubai Creek

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

OK, so this isn't really a souk, but a purpose-built Arabian-themed souk-a-like that forms part of the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah complex down by the coast. Don't go expecting traditional stalls, but shops selling toy camels and international coffee chains. It's quite nice for a stroll though, and has a huge selection of restaurants and bars sat by the (fake) Venetian-style waterways, plus a great beach at the back (but you can only use it if you're staying in one of the Madinat's three hotels). Unlike the real souks, this is open every day.

Nearest hotel: Al Qasr

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More information on Shopping in Dubai: the souks:

Alex Ritman
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
Average: 4 (1 vote)
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First uploaded:
6 November 2010
Last updated:
4 years 11 weeks 6 days 9 hours 2 min 43 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Cultural, Shopping
Budget level:
Free, Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
market, souk

Alex recommends


Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Al Qasr
2. Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa
3. Hilton Dubai Creek

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Community comments (1)

0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

A great short and snappy piece Alex. I particularly liked your meal and hotel suggestions for each souk.

Perhaps a couple more photos to illustrate your piece wouldn't go amiss (I love the spice souks, and they are great for photos).


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