Are you looking at how much extra luggage space you might need when packing for a Dubai vacation? Fancy picking up something beautiful for you home to remind you of your Dubai vacation?
In this guide, we take you through the top souvenir items that visitors to Dubai will want to look out for, and a few pointers on where you might find a bargain on these items!
Shopping and trade in Dubai
Let’s turn the clock back to what Dubai is all about. Unlike much of the rest of the country of the United Arab Emirates which was made up of little more than fishing and pearl-diving villages prior to the discovery of oil in the 1960s, Dubai has been an active port city for well over a century.
Dubai grew significantly in the late 19th-century as tax exemption rules were brought in, encouraging a large foreign workforce and traders to arrive en masse to the port city set up on Dubai Creek. The city has earned various nicknames over the years including “The City of Merchants” and “The City of Gold”.
Best Places to Shop in Dubai
In modern Dubai, the best place to shop in Dubai is the Dubai Mall. This is the single largest mall in the world with over 1,200 shops. You can find virtually anything you want here. Check out neighbouring Souq Al Bahr too – lots of lovely souvenirs to be found, but you will be paying top $$$ here!
There are plenty of runners up when it comes to modern shopping malls across the city of course; Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Festival City Mall, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Deira, Ibn Battuta Mall… the list goes on!
If you are seeking out bargains though, you will want to head beyond the major malls. Karama Shopping Complex (Karama Market) and Karama Centre are some of the best places for cheap shopping in Dubai. Items are often much more affordable here than they are anywhere else, and it’s a good place to do some haggling!
Souvenirs – What to buy in Dubai
So how much suitcase space will you need? Here’s our guide to “must-buys” when you’re visiting Dubai for some authentic souvenirs and fabulous memorable gifts from the Middle East.
Persian rugs are one of the most famous things to buy in Dubai. This city is renowned for its gorgeous textiles, and it’s a wonderful way to decorate your home. The really high-quality products can be a little expensive, but you can find more affordable rugs in various souks throughout the city.
Oudh and Bakhoor
Oudh and Bakhoor are both two of the best things to buy in Dubai. Both of these products provide a very distinct, Middle Eastern scent. They make a great gift for anyone who appreciates sophisticated fragrances. Oudh is an oil made from agarwood resin and tends to be a little more expensive. Bakhoor is simply agarwood chips that release an aroma when burned.
Aladdin lamps have an obvious charm for anyone who grew up loving the classic Disney film. Besides the nostalgia factor, these brass lamps are beautifully carved and sometimes feature intricate inlay work. Also, you can often haggle to get them at a cheaper price, making them one of the best cheap things to buy in Dubai that will look great on your mantlepiece.
Camel Milk Chocolate
Why not treat yourself while you’re in Dubai? Camel milk chocolate is one of Dubai’s most famous delicacies. Al Nassma is the original manufacturer of this delicacy and still the best. These chocolates are available in five different flavors. You can even get camel-shaped chocolates, which makes for an excellent and unique gift, truly reminiscent of Dubai!
An important part of Arabic cuisine is the rich flavour that comes from cooking with authentic spices. There is an immense variety of spices to be found in Dubai with influences from all over the region. Transform your cooking at home by bringing some traditional spices back from Dubai with you.
Lanterns are some of the most elegant Dubai souvenirs you can find. These often serve as centerpieces in Arabic homes, and they could serve as a centerpiece in yours as well. They’re often made with very intricate designs using mirrors and stained glass. Prices can range from very affordable to quite expensive.
If you’re still wondering what to buy in Dubai, this is an excellent way to treat yourself while participating in an important part of Middle Eastern culture. Dates, or dried fruits, are often given as gifts at the end of the fasting of Ramadan. Along with being a tasty snack, they also have numerous health benefits. There are over 20 varieties in all. Whether for your own pleasure or a beautifully presented gift, you simply can’t leave Dubai without dates!
Arabic Perfume Oils
This is another way to bring the unique fragrances of Dubai home with you. Arabic perfume oils, also known as Arabic attars or ittar, are made from plant extracts. They are very popular among both men and women. There are literally dozens of different oils to choose from but don’t worry, the vendors’ will willingly help you pick the fragrance that’s right for you.
Hookahs (Shisha Pipes)
Smoking from hookahs is a very popular pastime in Dubai. You can find one in almost any household and many bars throughout the city. This can be a great way to relax at home, and it’s a beautiful souvenir even if you don’t partake in smoking yourself. Furthermore, it’s a surprisingly affordable souvenir. It’s an excellent choice if you’re still wondering what to buy in Dubai – though do take care with your packing as the glass is fragile.
A pashmina shawl is one of the most fashionable things to buy in Dubai (and super practical!). These are made from cashmere derived from goat hair, and they make a great gift for your significant other. The most authentic pashmina shawls can get pretty expensive. If you want to save some money, opt for shawls made of silk or viscose instead.
Arabic Coffee & Coffee Pots
The distinct taste of Arabic Coffee referred to as “qahwa” is likely to be a lasting memory from a visit to Dubai and the UAE. It is, after all, one of the most common acts of hospitality to be served a small cup of coffee as a welcome drink by your hosts.
A really quite unique collector’s piece from your trip to Dubai is an Arabian Dagger. Generally used only decoratively, you will want to display this at home. The gently curved tip and intricately deigned pouch and handle. khanjar origanted in Oman
Finally, you might consider buying some gold jewellery while you’re in the City of Gold. Gold jewellery has a very obvious appeal, and it’s plentiful in Dubai. Because of this, it’s much more affordable than you might expect. It could be the perfect gift for the special person in your life or a great place to come and have something customized made just for you.