Dubai is a shopper's paradise. From its gigantic malls to its array of souks, the emirate has no shortage of ways to help you spend your money. In fact, Dubai even has its own annual shopping festival, which exemplifies the importance put upon this national pastime. But if you're interested in jewellery, then there's just one place to go: the Gold Souk.
This epicentre of everything that glitters can be found not far from Dubai Creek and is a shining example of an Arabic market dedicated to one speciality. Just going to have a look around is an experience in itself, but it's also incredibly tempting, so make sure you know the lowdown if you're planning on making a purchase.
Deira Gold Souk
Having come into existence in the 1900s, the Gold Souk started off with just a handful of shops, but has grown organically over the years. It is now home to more than 300 retailers and has a reputation that stretches well beyond the UAE.
Why buy gold in Dubai?
There's no chance that you'll get ripped off when buying gold in Dubai, as the industry is very carefully regulated. What's more, there's no sales tax and import duties are low, meaning it could cost you a lot less to purchase a high-quality piece in the emirate than elsewhere. Add to the mix the craftsmanship of local artisans and you've got the recipe for a jaw-dropping new ring, necklace or bracelet that will be the perfect souvenir of your trip.
Know your stuff
When it comes to making a purchase, there's no excuse not to be clued up. While the price of gold does fluctuate, the daily rate for international stocks is posted within the souk, so take note before going into a shop. This varies according to the number of carats, with 24 being the purest form, so also bear that in mind.
Be prepared to haggle
Upon enquiring about the price of a piece, it will then be weighed and the cost calculated based on the day's rate. This is just an opening salvo, however, and from here there is room for negotiation. You can generally expect 20 to 25 per cent to be knocked off the first price you are given, but there are other techniques that may bring it down further.
The most important rule of haggling is to pay an amount you are happy with. If you think something is too dear then walk away. If it is really of that value then the vendor will not chase after you with a better offer. Finding an amount that works for both the buyer and the seller is a fine art and haggling should always be done with mutual respect, so that everyone leaves the situation with a good deal.
Look at the wares and standards of detail in other shops, as well as prices before setting your heart on one particular piece. This will give you the knowledge of what items are worth and you can also say you have compared pieces of jewellery elsewhere. Always ask for a discount for buying multiple pieces, as this approach gives you better bargaining power.
Pay with cash
While paying with a credit or debit card may seem convenient, it is likely to cost you more in the long-run. Not only will there be charges from your bank and conversion rates, but the vendors are less likely to negotiate down if you are paying on plastic.
Look for the hallmark
For added reassurance, check the piece has a gold purity hallmark before finalising your purchase. All gold jewellery sold is Dubai is required to carry the mark, which comes in the form of a number and should be stamped into the underside of a piece. 24-carat gold is denoted with 999; 18 is 750 and nine-carat gold can be distinguished with a 375.
Dubai's Gold Souk is made up of many individual shops, which operate their own opening times. As a rule they tend to accept business from between 8am and 10am Saturday to Thursday and close at the hottest time of the day at around 1pm. Many then reopen at 4pm and continue to do business into the evening, not closing until 9pm or 10pm. Don't plan to do your shopping on a Friday morning, as most places are closed at this time for prayers.
Getting to the Deira Gold Souk
The nearest stop to the Gold Souk is Al Ras station on the green line of the Dubai Metro system. Once you exit the station, the souk is less than ten minutes' walk away.
Take home the perfect souvenir
A stunning piece of jewellery is a fitting souvenir to bring back from your holiday in Dubai. Not only will you be able to wear the memento with pride, but it will also remind you of your visit to one of the most luxurious destinations on the planet. Make sure you're clued up on the process of making a purchase at the Gold Souk and indulge yourself.