Dubai has shopping down to an art form. Quickly establishing itself as a worldwide go-to for retail therapy, the emirate is home to over 100 deluxe supermalls brimming with thousands of designer shops, which sit side-by-side with authentic bazaars. Perfect for a city break or stopover (and a nice break from the beach if you’d spend a week lying down), here’s how to make the most of Dubai’s notorious zero percent sales tax…
More than a mall
In Dubai, malls are more than just retail therapy. With the emirate’s year-round sweltering weather, they’re modern-day town squares; an air-conditioned refuge for eating, entertainment and socialising.
The Dubai Mall is our pick for ‘shopping, plus.’ It’s the world’s largest shopping mall, stretched out for over a million square feet beneath the legendary Burj Khalifa. It houses more than1,000 shops, as well as an aquarium, kids’ theme parks and an ice skating rink.
Fashion Avenue is mecca for the style-conscious, with the likes of Cartier, Armani and Chanel. Refuel with red velvet cake at Magnolia Bakery or make it a chic le dejeuner at Angelina Paris.
Suss out the souks
For a more traditional shopping experience, don’t miss Dubai’s extensive souks. They’re a fantastic opportunity to pick up some authentic souvenirs and hone your haggling skills. Gold, fragrances and spices are the best picks. Haggling in Dubai isn’t essential like in some countries, but if you fancy trying, it’s a good idea to go in at 50% of the price, and work your way up from there.
The gold souk on Sikkat al-Khali street is a must-visit, even if you’re not in the market to buy. Filled with precious metals and beautiful jewellery, you’ll see the tradesmen and artists peddling their creations themselves with unique Arabic designs and bespoke pieces.
Stock up on saffron at the spice souk (it’s a fraction of the price back home), and immerse yourself in the heady scents of the perfume souks selling incense and traditional oils, or visit a perfumer to create a personal fragrance.
Visit the shopping festival
If there’s any doubt about how much Dubai loves shopping, there’s even a whole shopping festival devoted to it, which runs from Boxing Day through to the end of December. Like a super-charged January sales, the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is a full-on shopaholic’s paradise, with huge discounts, freebies and entertainment like live music and street performers.
In 2017, DSF will host 12 Hour Exclusive New Year Shopping, a half-day event with famous brands discounted up to 90%.
If you don’t fancy venturing too far from your luxury Dubai bolthole, five-star hotels have started factoring shopping into their offerings, too. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the famous Palm island has its own Avenue of Indulgence, a high-end shopping experience filled with luxury brands selling gifts, fashion and jewellery. For the full Dubai experience, it’s interspersed with lounges and dining venues, so you can even have a rest in style. Don’t miss Al Dukan for souvenirs and traditional gifts, too.