Dubai: the New Shopping Capital of the World

Blurb

While London, Paris and New York vie for attention as global retail meccas, Dubai has been slowly building a reputation for unparalleled choice when it comes to shopping. Here's why Europe and America need to be worried.

From £409 per person

When you’re visiting a new country it’s impossible not to have some preconceptions. For visitors to Dubai, that usually comes in the form of a few things: heat, fine dining, skyscrapers, gigantic malls and opulent hotels. When a place is attracting the rich and famous it has to think about more than king-size beds and elegant cuisine, hence the reason this corner of the UAE is now renowned for retail, and offers everything you could ever want to buy. And more.

It’s not all high-end designer boutiques and sparkling new indoor shopping centres either. Although mall culture in the country is exceptionally strong – partly a result of the fact that having everything under one roof makes it all so much more accessible, and partly due to the fact that air conditioning is a must in 50˚C temperatures – Dubai is also well-known for its traditional souks (markets). Some key destinations to remember if you’re after some bartering action are the textile souk in Bur Dubai, which oozes ambience, along with the famous Spice Souk (no longer really focused on spices, though), Gold Souq and Deira Souq.

Away from these atmospheric addresses there’s a wealth of ways to splash your cash in more formal shopping environments. One of the first malls to open was Deira City Centre, which remains among the most popular. A heavily-westernised experience, here you’ll find upmarket high street stores, cinemas, and restaurants. More glamorous and the largest of them all is the Dubai Mall, located beneath the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. A recent extension is indicative of how 100 million visitors per year are expected to descend on the complex, and this is also the home of the Dubai Shopping Festival.

Elsewhere, and Madinat Jumeirah, one of the most extravagant hotel complexes in terms of architecture, is well worth a look for more than just its design. So, while you can take a boat ride along the 3-kilometre purposefully designed waterways, and wander peacefully through the gardens, meandering through the Arabian-looking buildings, including a variety of restaurants and bars, an amphiteatre and the region’s only dedicated entertainment centre; this is also a great place to pick up well-made souvenirs at the Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

Like we said, there is a world of options, all located in one of the world’s most exciting and inspiring cities. All of which is before we even come to mention the reserves of the super rich, such as the offerings located within the Burj Al Arab, where platinum iPhones come as standard. Perhaps not for everyone (or their budget), nevertheless like everything else in Dubai when it comes to shopping, the experience is worth the trip in itself. Indeed, New York, Paris and London may have the history, but nothing quite compares to getting retail therapy when you’re in a place that believes town planning in itself should be a thrilling adventure.


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