Shopping in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the most exciting activities in the country. From the glamorous and glitzy malls of Dubai to the atmospheric souks of Sharjah, the UAE boasts a surprisingly long list of shopping sites. A tax-free destination, don’t think for a second that items are cheaper than in Western countries, unless you happen to come during the discount season.
Malls, textile quarters and souks make up the shopping opportunities in the UAE’s most recognizable city. Some of the best to explore include the Mercato, Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall, and the largest in the city, the Dubai Mall each holding thousands of shops and some of the world’s greatest fashions.
The marketplaces, or souks, are also an important part of the UAE shopping culture. Gold Souk is a historical landmark found along the creek. Gold merchants make up most of the stalls, which has been operating since Dubai was nothing more than a small pearling village. The Spice Souk is another favorite. Both can get hot, so wear loose clothes. Bargaining is an expected.
Abu Dhabi is a popular paradise for retail therapy in the UAE. There are several major shopping centers, Abu Dhabi Mall and Marina Mall, situated close to the Emirates Palace. Inside is a beautiful fountain with musical tones. Al Wahda Mall and Khalidiya Mall are two other fine spots found in the city.
While Dubai and Abu Dhabi have their malls, Sharjah is home to a number of fascinating marketplaces. Souk Al-Arsa is found in the heritage area of the city and is often described as the most beautiful in the country. Souvenirs can be found here including wooden handicrafts, antiques and even cheap carpets. Gold jewelry and carpets are among the more popular items found at Sharjah Central Souk, another one of the UAE’s most prized marketplaces.