The Best Shopping in Dubai
The fact that Dubai is home to the world’s largest mall – and hosts scores of other, smaller but still gargantuan malls, as well as atmospheric souks and even a shopping festival – marks this out as a place that knows its retail. But these malls are much more than clusters of boutiques. They are cities within the city. In a place where it’s too hot to stroll outdoors for long, the malls are social hubs where locals meet for coffee, to eat and to have fun. You’ll find the movie theatres, bowling alleys, gyms, spas and restaurants of your malls back home, but so many more of them. Then there are the mega-malls which go to the next level featuring an assortment of attractions including aquariums, ski fields, ice-skating rinks and the list goes on.
For something more authentic, head to the old-fashioned souks, where traders will enter into a haggle for gold, carpets, electronics and artefacts. This city also loves art and throughout the DIFC you’ll find serious collector galleries such as Christie’s and some amazing furniture.
Our top picks
Financial Centre Road
The 35-hectare Dubai Mall is home to more than 1200 shops, including Galeries Lafayette and the only Bloomingdales outside the US, as well as the region's largest lolly shop, Candylicious. With an Aquarium and Under Water Zoo, an ice rink, a stunning waterfall and lake, its own gold souk and the spectacular Fashion Avenue of high-end brands, it’s no wonder Dubai Mall has been the world’s most visited shopping destination for years on end, with tens of millions of people passing through annually.
Mall of the Emirates
Al Barsha 1
Recently expanded, this massive mall is home to Ski Dubai, a 24-screen VOX Cinema, a Kempinski hotel, and a not-for-profit Community Theatre and Arts Centre. It’s also where you find Magic Planet, an entertainment zone for kids with fun-fair rides, a bowling alley, swimming pool and more. Here for the retail? Find Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer among a massive array of chain stores and boutiques.
Alserkal Avenue Arts and Cultural District
For the very best of cutting-edge contemporary Middle Eastern art, head to Alserkal Avenue in the industrial Al Quoz district, a collection of warehouses-turned-galleries where Dubai’s rising hipness is on show. Rub shoulders with sheikhs and the cream of emerging and established artists at exhibition openings, talks, panel discussions, auctions and community events. A host of unique textiles, sculptures, paintings and other creations tell stories of the region’s politics, history, myth and beauty in a uniquely progressive forum.
Diera Gold Souk
Sikkat Al-Khail Road, Deira
In a place that constantly changes and epitomises the cutting edge of modernity, the gold souk is an unmissable slice of old Dubai. Running for about 70 years since traders from India and Iran set up stalls, it’s now a dazzling, glittering collection of shops with windows dripping in gold jewellery and precious gems. It’s been estimated that about 10 tonnes of gold is here at any given time. Though gold is sold by weight at the current international price, you can still barter on individual items.