Experience authentic Dubai - The souks in Dubai are a true gem

Planning a trip to the ultimate shopping capital of the world? Yep, people book a sunny holiday to Dubai, just for the amazing shopping scene. And it’s no wonder, with the world’s largest mall and a festival dedicated to shopping there’s really no confusion in what the appeal is about. But while the malls are great for designer buys, we’re more interested in treasures that you can barter for double the souks of Old Dubai!

Experience authentic Dubai - The souks in Dubai are a true gem

Experience the authentic Dubai, as you walk along the old streets, surrounded by market stall holders. Souks are aplenty in Dubai. This guide looks at Dubai’s textile souk, spice souk, Deira Fish market, perfume souk and the gold souk.

SPICE SOUK will entice you with its aromas

When I first visited the spice souk, it was something that captivated my attention straight away – the piled and piles of spices, the smells and the way things were presented were almost artistic.

Your senses come alive as you’ll smell the Spice Souk before you see it, as here you will come across fragrant spices from all over the world. Luxurious spices such as saffron can be purchased in bulk for a fraction of the usual price which is just wonderful for keen cooks. Spice traders will readily educate you on the l spices from India, Iran and Pakistan. You’ll find everything from cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garam masala, vanilla pods and saffron, to shisha tobacco and pipes, and stunning traditional lanterns and furniture.

Textile Souk in Dubai has fashion from all cultures

Colour hits you in bright beautiful threads as you enter the streets of the textile souk in Dubai. Those would adore fashion will be in awe of the huge variety of fabrics from various parts of the world. Located in Bur Dubai, (a short Abra ride across the Creek from the spice souk).

It’s packed with tailors who can create an outfit completely bespoke in your size, tastes and requirements in a matter of days or weeks. Traders are keen to get you into their stores so don’t be surprised to suddenly find a pashmina around your shoulder as they tempt you to buy their products. Ensure you look out for the original features as some of the old architecture of Old Dubai is still to be seen around textile souk of Dubai. This souk is closed on Fridays and Sundays, but open every other day from 10am – 10pm. Go in the evening time as the narrow streets can make you feel hot during the day.

Deira Fish Market in Dubai has the freshest fish I’ve ever seen or tasted

When I say freshest, I mean that the fish and seafood items on sale are so fresh that the smell of fish hits you well before you are actually in the Fish Market of Dubai. But as a fish-eater and seafood lover, I had to check out what all the fuss was about. The Fish Market is the best place in Dubai to get your hands on the freshest and cheapest seafood. No supermarket will be able to get you a fish dish of such delicacy and taste – plus the price is incomparable. You’ll find everything from squid and lobster to impressive baby sharks and everything in between. Given its location is right beside the creek, you’ll see a lot of the product has just been caught. The market has a massive fruit and veg segment that offers excellent deals. You want to peruse this area very early in the morning, so that the heat doesn’t intensify the seafood smell.

PERFUME SOUK is filled with middle eastern ouds, Arabic perfumes and unique bottles

Who doesn’t love a good perfume? I know I love collecting perfumes in intricate and beautiful bottles and using them daily. Here at the perfume souk in Dubai, you’ll find the most amazing smells that are rich and long-lasting.

Authentic Arabic scents are very different from the mainstream scents you are probably used to. You can even purchase the smallest bottles with maybe about 15 ml of perfume with rollers on top if you are unsure of which perfume you would like to take home.

GOLD SOUK was a sight to see, it felt like I’d stumbled across a magical land from Aladdin

Gold everywhere. Literally, everywhere you look, the windows of all the shops in the gold souk of Dubai has more gold than you’ll have ever seen in your life. You’ll see the regular gold earrings, pendants, necklaces, gold bracelets, but then, now and again, you’ll come across a dress made from gold, or a very elaborate crown and some items you would never have thought anyone would buy casually.
Prices of the gold are determined on weight. Don’t be afraid to do some haggling though as this will be expected. The souk really comes alive at night, so it’s a great time to visit even if you don’t intend to purchase any gold.

Get ready to haggle as you work your way through each of Dubai’s wonderful souks

Glide along the narrow and twisting alley streets, where Dubai residents and holiday-goers alike haggle with traders to bag the best prices; with everything from mysterious scents, gold jewels, raw silk and rare fabrics from around the glove, every experience at the souks is a unique and interesting one. The souks can be found on either side of Dubai Creek which you can cross by Abra (a traditional wooden boat) for the tiny cost of AED 1.

Haggling is part and parcel of visiting the souks of Dubai, so be prepared for a little bit of fun in the bartering department. Stand your ground and ensure you get yourself a great bargain, or try the next shop – there are hundreds of similar souks selling similar produce so you’ll find a price you’re happy with somewhere.  

Saima Omar

Saima Omar

The Passionate Traveller

A writer who likes to travel in style. Devoted culture lover, eager for an adventure. Follow the...

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