Tired of seeing the same international fashion brands in mall after mall? Curious about a more genuine experience? Time to visit Dubai's souks and markets!
Souker - markets
Souk is an Arabic word describing a place where goods are brought to be sold or exchanged. A market, simply put. Dubai's souks originated at Dubai Creek, where ships brought goods from neighbouring countries, but also from India, Sri Lanka and China. When the cargo was unloaded, the goods were sold to boasting and brawling merchants from almost all over the world. Today, Dubai's souks are much quieter, and a pleasant alternative to shiny shoppinggallerior.
Head to the spice souk to experience a Dubai that feels more authentic than malls and skyscrapers. Stroll, smell, listen and experience. The Spice Souk merges with the Old Souk, where merchants trade goods in bulk for transport to neighbouring countries. Also known as the Deira Covered Souk.
Deira, near Nasser Square.
Textile Souk/Old Souk
Across Dubai Creek from the Gold and Spice Souk is a fabric lover's paradise. Here you will find all kinds of textiles. Buy a piece of fabric and drop it off at one of the neighbourhood tailors, with a description of the garment you want, and you'll have it made up. Just bear in mind that delivery time can be a few days.
Okay, maybe you don't buy a quarter of a tuna and take it to the hotel room. But the fish market is well worth a visit anyway, especially during the busy morning hours. There's also Fishermans House, a small museum about Dubai's fishing history and the 350 species of fish found in the waters off the UAE.
Deira, between Al Khaleej Road and the sea.
Gold is tax-free in Dubai and cheap to buy. Tourism authorities estimate that 95 per cent of visitors to the emirate buy gold in some form, so the gold souk, with around 700 shops, is a must in travel planning. The price of gold is fixed, but you're expected to bargain on the cost of working on the jewellery. Bargain well and you've made a bargain. Read more buy gold in Dubai.
Deira, near the Hyatt Regency hotel.
Opening hours of the souks
Markets are usually open from 09:00 to 22:00. However, some shops inside the markets may be closed in the afternoons, roughly between 13:00 and 16:00. On Fridays, which are holiday in Dubai, the souks usually open at 4pm.
(Photo: Flickr/Chrissy Olson)
(Page updated 2015-09-03.)