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Where to shop in Dubai

The fact that Dubai is home to the world’s largest mall – and hosts scores of other, smaller but still gargantuan malls, as well as atmospheric souks and even a shopping festival – should leave you in no doubt that this city knows its retail. But these malls are much more than clusters of boutiques. They are cities within the city. In a place where it’s too hot to stroll outdoors for long, the shopping malls in Dubai are social hubs where locals meet for coffee, to eat and to have fun. You’ll find the movie theatres, bowling alleys, gyms, spas and restaurants of your shopping malls back home, but in greater numbers than you could imagine. Then there are the mega-malls which go to the next level featuring an assortment of attractions including aquariums, ski fields, ice-skating rinks and so on. Shopping in Dubai is not just something to do, it is an art form. For Dubai shopping that’s a little more authentic, head to the old-fashioned souks, where traders will enter into a haggle for gold, carpets, electronics and artefacts. This city also loves art and throughout the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) you’ll find serious collector galleries such as Christie’s, designer furniture boutiques and more.

The Dubai Mall

For the very best of cutting-edge contemporary Middle Eastern art, head to Alserkal Avenue in the industrial Al Quoz district, a collection of warehouses-turned-galleries where Dubai's rising hipness is on show. Rub shoulders with sheikhs and the cream of emerging and established artists at exhibition openings, talks, panel discussions, auctions and community events. A host of unique textiles, sculptures, paintings and other creations tell stories of the region's politics, history, myth and beauty in a uniquely progressive forum. In a place that constantly changes and epitomises the cutting edge of modernity, the gold souk is an unmissable slice of old Dubai. Running for about 70 years since traders from India and Iran set up stalls, it's now a dazzling, glittering collection of shops with windows dripping in gold jewellery and precious gems. It's been estimated that about 10 tonnes of gold is here at any given time. Though gold is sold by weight at the current international price, you can still barter on individual items.
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Mall of the Emirates

When many people thing of Dubai shopping, they think of Dubai Mall. The 35-hectare mall is home to more than 1,200 shops, including Galeries Lafayette and the only Bloomingdales outside the US, as well as the region's largest lolly shop, Candylicious. With an Aquarium and Under Water Zoo, an ice rink, a stunning waterfall and lake, its own gold souk and the spectacular Fashion Avenue of high-end brands, it's no wonder Dubai Mall has been the world's most visited shopping destination for years on end, with tens of millions of people passing through annually. What to buy in Dubai? No matter what you're looking for, you'll find it in Dubai Mall. Recently expanded, this massive mall is home to Ski Dubai, a 24-screen VOX Cinema, a Kempinski hotel, and a not-for-profit Community Theatre and Arts Centre. It's also where you find Magic Planet, an entertainment zone for kids with fun-fair rides, a bowling alley, swimming pool and more. Here for the retail? Find Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer among a vast array of chain stores and boutiques.
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Souk Madinat Jumeirah

As the exceptional Souk Madinat Jumeirah proves so well, not every shopping experience in Dubai has to be inside a modern mall environment. This one-of-a-kind shopping centre was designed to look and feel like an ancient Middle Eastern marketplace, transporting visitors to another world – at least for the duration of their shopping spree. With waterfront restaurants and cafés, winding alleys filled with boutiques selling various wares and souvenirs, and architecture that nods back to older times, this centre clearly offers a different shopping experience in Dubai.
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Ibn Battuta Mall

As the world's largest themed shopping mall, the Ibn Battuta Mall offers a retail therapy experience that's quite different from all the other centres in Dubai. You'll still find many of the usual retail stores and outlets here – over 275 of them, in fact – plus around 50 restaurants inside. But what really makes a trip here special is that it's divided into six main sections: Andalusia, Egypt, India, Tunisia, Persia, and China. Each section represents the regions explored by the historical figure Ibn Battuta, whom this mall was named after, and features its distinctive cultural designs and atmosphere. This effectively provides visitors with a multi-cultural shopping experience with each visit.
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ARTE - Artisans of the Emirates

ARTE, otherwise known as The Artisans of the Emirates, is a local group of artists and craftspeople, who sell their arts and crafts in markets held in different parts of Dubai. You'll find a wide variety of artwork in pieces in these markets, from paintings and handicrafts to jewellery and various accessories. Catch the ARTE markets on select days of each month in the Times Square Centre, the Green Community, or the Al Hamra Mall. Make sure you check the collective's calendar ahead of time to schedule your visit.
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Diera Gold Souk

This fantastical place stands out against the hyper-modern malls this city is famous for. Located in the city's commercial district, Diera, this souk has been running for almost a decade. It all started when traders from India and Iran set up stalls, and has today, become a maze of over 300 retailers selling gold jewellery and precious gems. Next door to the market is the Dubai Fish and Vegetable Market, which offers an alternative shopping experience.
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