There is arguably no better symbol of Dubai than the emirate's many souks. The Arabic version of a market, Dubai's souks are bustling centres, filled with life and colour and represent a perfect fusion of the city's past and present.
From the modern splendour of the Dubai Mall Souk to the traditional Arabic wares at the Textile Souk, there is something to suit all tastes. Here are top ten picks:
This, the most famous of Dubai's souks, and it's a must see. With the real gold of its shop windows glinting in the sun and the hum of shoppers moving to and fro from store to store, this is a fantastic place to visit even if you don't want to buy anything. If do you want to spend a little bit of your hard-earned cash, you won't be short of choice. With an astounding variety of jewellery, gemstones and trinkets on offer, this souk is an ideal place to pick up a memento of your trip or a gift for a special someone.
The souk is located a short distance from Dubai Creek, we recommend reaching it by taking a water taxi and, if you see something you like, don't be afraid to haggle!
Add some Arabian spice to your trip by visiting this souk. From cinnamon and saffron to cardamom and curry, nearly all of the flavours of the world are available for purchase here. There is more than spices on sale too, with wide varieties of rice, fruit and nuts on offer to name just a few of the produces on sale. This souk is the ideal place to pick up an ingredient or two to experiment with when you get back home. You'll find the Spice Souk just a short walk down towards Dubai Creek from the Gold Souk.
Prepare for an assault of the senses as you take in the sweet aroma of the Perfume Souk. Fragrance fans will find everything they could want here, ranging from global perfume brands to incense and oud, the precious fragrant oil that is traditionally worn by both emirati men and women. The Perfume Souk is just a short walk away from both the Gold Souk and Spice Souk, so you can easily combine these into one trip.
This souk offers a taste of India Dubai-style. The emirate is home to cultures from all over the world and Indians form one its largest minority groups. Meena Bazaar is a hub for this community, providing all manner of Indian produce, ranging from jewellery and clothing to herbs and spices. Located on the opposite side of the Dubai Creek from the Gold Souk, the bazaar is a great way to experience the emirate's multiculturalism firsthand.
Souk Al Bahar
For a modern take on the souk, head to this marketplace, which has the spectacular backdrop of the Burj Khalifa tower and Dubai Fountain. Spread across a series of stone walkways that sit on the shore of the Burj Khalifa lake, this souk brings together Dubai's past and present with more than 100 shops selling their wares. If you're not done shopping, the Dubai Mall is just a short walk away.
Dubai Mall Souk
Housed within the opulent shopping paradise that is the Dubai Mall, this souk is the perfect destination if you're planning to splash out on something shiny. There are more than 40 different jewellery and watch stores housed in this luxurious marketplace, which is a perfect showcase for the splendour and finery people associate with Dubai.
Fruit and Vegetable Souk
The wares on offer at this souk may not be quite as exciting as those at some of its counterparts, but, as a site that's frequented by locals, this fruit and veg extravaganza provides an excellent insight into everyday Dubai life. You'll find all the fruit and vegetables you could hope for at this souk, all of it very reasonably priced too. The site is located in the Ras Al Khor area in the east of the city.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Located a short drive away from central Dubai, Souk Madinat is part of the Madinat Jumeirah resort, which is designed to replicate a traditional Arabian village. Once your done shopping, why not take a stroll around the complex, which looks spectacular when its authentic buildings are lit up at night. If you're hungry or fancy a drink, there are nearly 50 bars and restaurants to choose from.
Khan Murjan Souk
Another modern souk that aims to recreate the past is Khan Murjan. This souk is inspired by an ancient subterranean souk in Baghdad, but incorporates architecture from across the Arab world, with influences from Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Turkey. Be sure to look up when visiting, as the ceiling is made of a stained glass window using types of glass selected from mosques and temples across the Islamic world. The souk is part of the Wafi development that contains a shopping mall and plenty of eating, drinking and entertainment options.
Quality cashmere, silk and cotton are just some of the fine fabrics you'll find at the Textile Souk, which is located just south of Dubai Creek in Bur Dubai. With plenty of tailors located nearby, why not pick out your favourite fabric and get an outfit specially made? You could opt for a suit or dress, or do as the natives do and choose an "abaya" (traditional womenswear), or "kandora" (traditional menswear). Remember that haggling is the done thing in Dubai's souks, so don't be afraid to try and get the price down when you see something you like.
Souks in Dubai - get a real flavour of this incredible emirate
No matter which souk you visit, these vibrant areas of this emirate are sure to give you something truly special gifts or souvenirs to return home with. They are just one part of the fantastic culture that this emirate has that you can experience during your holiday in Dubai.