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UAE: Shopping Paradise – discover the magical world of shopping and culture

ОАЭ: Шопинг-парадиз – откройте для себя магический мир покупок и культуры

Shopping in the UAE is more than going to the store for shopping. It is part of the lifestyle of the local population and the easiest way to get acquainted with its culture. If you come to the Arab Emirates, then regardless of whether your trip is connected with work, the desire to relax on the warm seashore or moving to permanent residence, be sure to shop. You will get incomparable pleasure from visiting giant shopping malls, small shops, traditional oriental bazaars. You can find good discounts everywhere. This article is a guide to local shops, including online.

Shopping malls are an important component of the public life of the population of the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, where they serve not only as retail hubs, but also as centers of public life, food, entertainment. They embody the rapidity of urban development, the power of architectural and technical thought, the unity of a multinational society. Here you can find boutiques of all famous brands of the world, extensive food courts with all cuisines of the world, indoor ski slopes, even aquariums that distinguish local shopping centers from similar ones in other countries.

Main commercial complexes

Shopping mall in Dubai
  1. Dubai Mall (Downtown district) is one of the largest in the world, a symbol of modern retail. In addition to hundreds of shops and boutiques, visitors will find inside a huge aquarium, an amusement park, an Olympic-sized ice arena, and a giant indoor waterfall. This is a real city within a city, satisfying any needs of visitors.
  2. Mall of the Emirates (Al Barsha district). There is an indoor ski slope Ski Dubai, the only such facility in the Middle East. Ski Dubai offers an active holiday in the snowy coolness in a city created in the middle of the desert, among luxury shops and fine restaurants.
  3. Yas Mall (Yas Island – Yas Gharb – Abu Dhabi). This is a paradise for buyers, where you can buy various products of local as well as well-known international brands. Here you can also enjoy dishes of the cuisines of many nations, which are presented on the food court. Not far from the mall there are other entertainment centers Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld.
  4. Marina Mall (Abu Dhabi) is comfortably located next to the picturesque Corniche area. The mall combines stunning views and pleasant shopping.
  5. Al Wahda Mall (Abu Dhabi). The shopping center is located in the heart of the capital. Under its roof, it has united more than 350 medium- and premium-class brands, various children’s play areas, many cafes and restaurants.

Other famous shopping malls

  • The Galleria (Abu Dhabi) is an elite commercial complex where visitors can buy products of many famous brands, and then have lunch at one of the restaurants of the same level.
  • Dubai Outlet Mall is known for offering big discounts on branded items all year round.
  • City Centre Deira (Dubai) is one of the first shopping malls in the emirate.

Traditional oriental bazaars

Traditional oriental bazaars

Arab bazaars contrast vividly with modern commercial complexes. Markets live by their age-old foundations and laws. These are lively, bright squares where products of all kinds are sold, most of which embody the traditional way of life of the local population. The most popular among residents of Dubai and visitors to the city are three bazaars: golden, spicy, textile.

  1. The Gold Souk is the largest in the Emirates, as well as one of the largest gold markets in the world. Located in the heart of Dubai’s commercial business district, in Deira. Gold Souk is a shining spectacle of gold, silver and precious stones that cannot be missed. Hundreds of shops display an amazing variety of jewelry from classic Arabic patterns to modern items, and most importantly – at affordable prices. Regardless of whether you are a serious buyer or just a curious spectator, include this object in your itinerary and plunge into a real golden fairy tale of the East.
  2. Spice Souk is a spice market. Located near Gold Souk. The smell of spices can be felt in the air already a few hundred meters from the market square. Here you can find a huge assortment of spices, herbs, rice, fruits dried in the way accepted in Arabic culture. The air is filled with a mixture of aromas: incense, hookah, exotic spices, herbal teas. This is another place that takes the visitor back to ancient times.
  3. The textile market is located in the historic district of Bur Dubai. This is a paradise for those who appreciate fine fabrics. The bazaar is full of shops selling wide thin silks, airy cotton, luxurious velvets, embroidered fabrics: from bright to restrained monochrome. This place is ideal for finding material for a custom outfit that can be sewn in one of the small ateliers right there.

There are other smaller bazaars in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but if you have time, it’s worth visiting them. They also specialize in one product category:

  • Perfume Souk is located in the Deira location. This is the perfume heart of the city. Here you can find perfumes of any European brand, as well as buy something from sweet Arabic flavors. 
  • Carpet Souk, Abu Dhabi is a carpet market where you can buy a carpet woven in the traditions of different Oriental peoples: Arabic, Afghan, Persian.
  • Madinat Zayed Gold Centre, Abu Dhabi. This is another golden bazaar, but already the capital. Sellers offer a variety of jewelry made of gold and silver in both oriental and modern design.

Visiting oriental bazaars is a unique shopping experience that introduces guests to the rich local culture and attracts hundreds of profitable offers. Anyone who wants to get to know the traditional side of modern Emiratis should start by visiting local bazaars.

Online markets and delivery services


Virtual platforms offer a convenient alternative to physical purchases: here purchases are made in a few clicks. 

  1. Souq.com , now after its purchase by Amazon in 2017 is called Amazon.ae . Souq.com It was one of the first major internet markets in the Middle East. Its assortment ranges from electronics and household appliances to clothing and cosmetics. The website also provides customer reviews and ratings.
  2. Noon.com , founded in 2016. Noon.com – this is a rapidly growing regional marketplace. Here they buy electronics, clothing, cosmetics, household and kitchen goods, as well as food. Noon.com it is famous for affordable prices, frequent sales and fast delivery. There is a premium service, Noon VIP, which provides a number of advantages, for example, express delivery, early access to sales.
  3. Carrefour is a supermarket chain that sells food, electronics, and household goods.

In addition to marketplaces, many food and grocery delivery services have appeared in the UAE:

  • Deliveroo is a popular food delivery service from restaurants;
  • Zomato is a service originally launched as a platform for finding restaurants and reviewing their menus, but later Zomato expanded to online food delivery orders;
  • Talabat – food delivery;
  • Uber Eats – a branch of the popular taxi ordering app Uber Eats offers food delivery from shops, cafes and restaurants;
  • elGrocer, is a food delivery service.

The growth of marketplaces and delivery services in the country reflects its desire to use the latest digital technologies, as well as the growing need of the population for convenience and additional comfort. The marketplace is constantly expanding and improving, offering consumers even more goods, services and opportunities.

Discount centers and outlets

Brands for Less

Although the UAE, especially Dubai, is famous for its luxurious commercial complexes and markets, they also provide many opportunities for profitable shopping.

  1. Dubai Outlet Mall is one of the first outlets in the Middle East. This is a real Mecca for bargain shopping lovers. More than 1,200 brands are represented in the shopping center, 240 boutiques offer discounts from 30 to 90 percent throughout the year. In addition to shopping, the mall has a huge amount of entertainment for the whole family.
  2. Brands for Less is a popular retail chain selling branded items (clothing, accessories, household goods, toys) at discounted prices. Brands for Less buys the remnants of collections from last season from major brands from around the world and sells them for a fraction of the original cost.

Other discount centers

  • Sharjah City Centre, located in Sharjah, is a shopping mall famous for low prices;
  • Dragon Mart is known as the largest shopping center of Chinese products outside mainland China: there is a large selection of product categories and positions and affordable price tags; 
  • Max Fashion is one of the largest brands of inexpensive clothing in the Middle East.

Other outlets

Naif Souk

In addition to the world-famous shopping malls and traditional markets, there are also many less popular shopping destinations in the Principality, designed for connoisseurs of exclusivity and looking for special experiences. In small commercial shops hidden in more remote urban areas, you can find unique antique furniture, local art, antiques, collectibles and much more.

  1. Al Quoz is an industrial area located in Western Dubai, at the same time famous for the accumulation of art galleries, performance spaces, cafes, as well as non–profit organizations. All of them are located on Alserkal Avenue. Al Quoz offers a unique shopping experience for those interested in art, design, painting, sculpture, etc.
  2. Satwa is known for fabric shops and tailors. Satwa is a great place to search for rare textile materials and order custom–made clothing. Fabrics from different parts of the world are presented here, and tailors can create everything from traditional Emirati clothes to modern fashionable outfits.
  3. Naif Souk is a market located in the oldest part of Dubai. Here you can buy everything at a good price: from clothes and accessories to electronics and household goods.

The United Arab Emirates has unique shopping opportunities suitable for any goals and objectives. Depending on their preferences, local residents and guests of the Principality can spend time and shop in magnificent megamalls, in traditional bazaars or on comfortable online platforms. The combination of tradition and innovation makes shopping in the UAE unique and exciting.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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