In the past, shopping took place in souks such as the vegetable souk or the spice souk. While some of these charming, traditional souks can still be found, perhaps due to the intense heat in the UAE in the summer, Dubai has developed some of the world’s most glamorous and varied shopping malls. Being tax-free, prices are often very competitive.
The top malls in Dubai these days, in no particular order are: Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates (MoE), Festival Centre, Ibn Battuta, Burjuman Centre, Mirdif City Centre and Deira City centre. You can find almost anything in these well-stocked malls; electronics, furniture, and clothes. They also have at least one supermarket, movie theatres, cafés, restaurants, stationery and book shops.
Dubai Mall has a giant aquarium freely available, while Mall of the Emirates is internationally famous for its indoor ski field. Which mall and individual favour depends on personal preference and the location, Ibn Battuta and Mirdif City Centre being about as far apart as possible in Dubai. Dubai Mall is centrally situated, and the others fill in the gaps around the city. Of course, there are plenty of other smaller or more specialized malls.
In addition, there are areas where you can find certain types of shops situated as individual stores rather than in malls. For example, just off Sheikh Zayed Road, in the Al Quoz area, there is an area where there are a number of artist’s outlets and showrooms. This is also a good area to find shops selling old or antique type furniture from India and other parts of Asia and interior design or fabric shops. Feshwari is one popular fabric/interiors outlet to be found in this area.
Many specialist shops such as fabric shops and kitchen shops can be seen strung out along Sheik Zayed Road. Natuzzi, the well-known Italian furniture shop, has a big outlet visible from the road.
Appliance and electronics shops can be found in all the major malls. The electricity supply is the same as that of the UK and Europe, 220 volts. Electrical appliances come with a UK style big, three-pin plugs on the whole.
There are four main outlets all of which are well staffed, offer competitive prices and good service if you have kept your receipt.
Better Life would be the place to go for a wide variety of internationally known cookers, fridges and other large household appliances. They also sell water filters and do a good job of offering after sales service on these items.
Ace Hardware is the major player in Dubai. They have an outlet in the Sheikh Zayed area. They also have a big store in Festival Centre across the road from Ikea. They sell paint and other home handyman items, gardening needs, outdoor furniture and camping equipment.
Other sports shops can be found in the malls dotted around Dubai. There are specialist shops for diving equipment, too.
When it comes to personal shopping, the choice is enormous. Most well-known designer brands are represented in the main malls. For example, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Ralph Lauren, Valentino and Elie Saab to name a few are located in the fashion section of Dubai Mall. This part of the mall is quiet and elegant.
Other sections of the mall have more of a buzz to them and there you can find shops like Top Shop, Zara, Banana Republic, H&M and Gap.
Shoe and accessory shops abound. Are you looking for Manolo Blahnick or Aldo? You will find the former in Dubai Mall and the latter in most of the larger malls. There are also shops with a distinctly Middle Eastern or Asian flavour that sell clothing and shoes.
The Outlet Mall is a little way out of Dubai, but the best place to go if you want a bargain in the clothing or shoe line. They also have some furniture outlets.
Jewellery shops tend to be in the main malls where you can find the top retailers for watches and jewellery, shops like Patek Philippe, Bulgari and Cartier, offering their goods tax-free.
Some outlets are in specialist malls such as the Gold and Diamond Park.