Dubai's most beautiful souqs have managed to retain their typical oriental flair away from the large shopping malls and offer the finest jewellery, fashion, spices and handicrafts.
Souqs, the traditional Arab markets, have always been important meeting places and trading centres. Despite, or perhaps because of, the omnipresent innovation and modernity in Dubai, the numerous souqs of Dubai still exude the unmistakable flair of an oriental bazaar. Opening hours are usually around 9 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 10 pm, with the souqs closed on Friday mornings.
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PICTURES: The most beautiful souqs in Dubai
A stroll through one of Dubai's bustling markets is a shopping experience of a special kind. Anyone who has not experienced the merchandise, crowds, soundscapes and fragrances of the souqs can hardly claim to have been to Dubai.
You can buy almost anything in Dubai's diverse souqs. The best known are the gold souq, the textile souq and the spice souq, but food, animals, technical gadgets and kitsch of all kinds can also be found in Dubai's markets. And even if you don't want to buy anything - a visit to the souqs is simply part of a Dubai trip!
One of the most impressive markets in Dubai is definitely the Gold Souq in the Deira district on Dubai Creek. At one of the largest gold markets in the world, fine jewellery meets priceless diamonds, glittering and shining everywhere. Hardly anything under 18 carats can be found here. The largest gold ring in the world , weighing almost 64 kilograms, is also gigantic.
Both small mementos of holidays in Dubai and the very special kind of souvenir can be found here. The price of jewellery and gold is negotiable, hundreds of gold dealers and also tourists haggle for the best deals here every day.
Right next to the Gold Souq are Arabian treasures of a different kind. Professional chefs and gourmets from all over the world gather at Dubai's largest and oldest market to add the perfect spice to their dishes from the variety of flavours.
The multicoloured splendour can of course be tasted and is also a highlight for the nose, eye and camera lens. In addition to saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, curry and other spices, you can also buy tobacco, tea, dates and nuts at the spice souq.
If you want to indulge yourself even further after the spice souq, visit the perfume souq on Sikkat al Khali Street in Deira. Here, everything revolves around the scents of the world, from fine fragrances to incense and essential oils.
The traditional Middle Eastern oud is omnipresent here and is offered in ornately decorated bottles and flacons. Tip for the extravagant: Ask for a fragrance blend created especially for you!
On the other side of Dubai Creek in Al Fahidi Street is the textile souq, also one of the most traditional markets in Dubai. The stalls at the textile souq are just as colourful as those at the spice souq, but this time it is fine fabrics that delight the eye.
Precious silk hangs here in endless panels next to the finest cashmere, just waiting to be embellished with intricate embroidery or transformed into traditional clothing.
Tip: Tailor-made dresses and suits made of the best fabric can be purchased here at surprisingly low prices compared to the big designer chains!
Al Bahar Souq
Souq Al Bahar is not one of the most traditional markets in Dubai, simply because of its location. Near the Dubai Lagoon at the foot of the world-famous Burj Khalifa, traditional Arabic products are hawked alongside Prada, Gucci and co. The selection of fragrant oils, brassware, fine scarves, jewellery and sweets is nevertheless worth seeing.
Tip: The top floor is a perfect vantage point for the light and music show that takes place every evening at the Dubai Fountain.
Souq in the Dubai Mall
There is also a souq directly inside the Dubai Mall, although it is hardly recognisable as such. Here, the traders haggle with the big shops of the Dubai Mall for customers and instead of small colourful stalls, opulent stores with glittering showcases delight the eye.
Around 220 different jewellers and watch shops make up the "Gold City" in the Dubai Mall, impressing with unique designs and one-of-a-kind pieces of priceless value and even listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
Souq Madinat Jumeirah
The Madinat Souq in the upmarket Jumeirah district, about 15 minutes by car from Downtown Dubai, is much more traditional. Those on the hunt for souvenirs are guaranteed to find what they are looking for in the 70 or so small shops selling traditional Middle Eastern handicrafts, fashion and jewellery.
The Madinat Jumeirah Souq is also ideal for dining. Arabic cafés with the flair of 1001 Nights, gourmet restaurants and also Western cuisine deliver the agony of choice - each with a magnificent view of the waterways between the impressive skyscrapers of Dubai Marina.
Tip: The Madinat Jumeirah Souq is the best choice for buying souvenirs and souvenirs from your Dubai holiday.
Another suitable place for souvenir hunters is the Karama Souq. The typical Middle Eastern souvenirs are much cheaper here than in the big malls. The Karama Souq is also the first address for so-called "real fakes". Fake branded goods from bags and suits to shoes and perfume can be found here at ridiculously low prices. However, if you have a problem with pushy salespeople (or are afraid of pickpockets), you should avoid this souq.
The Naif Souq is also located in the Deira district and is one of the oldest and most traditional markets in the city. The former camel market has now become a much-visited trading centre for goods of all kinds. More than 100 shops offer mainly jewellery, watches, leather goods, handbags and souvenirs in a pleasantly air-conditioned atmosphere.
Fruit and Vegetable Souq
The largest fruit and vegetable market in Dubai is located on Emirates Road in Ras Al Khor. Fresh fruit and vegetables from all parts of the world are much cheaper here than in the supermarkets. If you plan to buy more, you can even hire your own porter here.
The Meena Souq at the Burj Khalifa is also known as the Indian market, because here you can find mainly goods from India. Indian jewellery, saris, watches, spices and furniture can be found here at reasonable prices - however, at the Meena Souq you quickly feel transported from Dubai to India, also thanks to the two Hindu temples directly at the souq.
The Friday Market is located just outside Dubai's centre on East Coast Road between Dhaid and Masafi. It is called this because it was once only open on Fridays (which is no longer the case). The goods on offer here run the gamut, from carpet and pottery to fruit and vegetables, household utensils and toys. The offer is a lot cheaper and less touristy than in the big markets in the centre of Dubai.