S – Souks of Dubai | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z
After the last post on restaurants and food places of Dubai, I received a lot of feedback from a lot of people that this was the last thing that they were looking for. I am sure most of the women were lying (Just kidding). This post should be of utmost importance to them. If they aren’t concerned with shopping then who will; I have often found women confessing to me that they find shopping therapeutic.
We have already discussed the malls in Dubai, let’s dedicate this post to the markets or as they call it ‘Souks’ in Dubai. I find malls very monotonous, with most of them having similar lines of retail outlets. My father always told, when you travel, to feel the real culture and vibe of a place travel and explore the local markets.
Before proceeding I would like to highlight what are some of the things that are a must buy from Dubai – perfumes, gold, electronics, spices, textiles, coffee, chocolates, dates, honey and carpets.
It is the world’s largest gold market with around 300 retailers. The gold souk is located in the Al Ras area of Deira region of Dubai. There is a reason why Dubai is known as the city of gold. The products are government regulated and hence the quality of the products is pretty much genuine everywhere you shop. The gold is also of better quality, usually 22 or 24 carats, compared to India and hence it is considered cheaper than India.
It is a traditional market with narrow lanes with glittering gold on display everywhere. Don’t forget to be at your bargaining best. The gold souk is very well connected using any mode of transport.
Just next to the gold souk, you will be transported to the aroma-laden streets of traditional trade hub of Dubai, The Spice Souk. The moment you enter the street a strong aroma of spices, which appear to be pleasantly soothing, will greet you. You can purchase an extensive variety of spices found across the planet. The spice souk is not only famous for spices; in fact, you can purchase some of the best dry fruits and dates for your trip back.
The first thing that I noticed as soon as I landed in Dubai was the strong scent of perfumes and ‘ittra’ that the locals would be wearing. For some reason, it gives a comforting feeling to everything. Needless to mention the street is an amalgamation of some of the finest scents available.
Perfume souk is also in the same Deira locale on the Sikkat Al Khail Road. You can find anything from the traditional Arabic ittras to more contemporary options. You will find perfume shops in malls too, but the price in the perfume street is unbeatable. They are the perfect souvenirs and don’t forget to take the ‘Oud’ flavor.
Take an abra for just one dirham and cross the creek to the other side, Bur Dubai. Here you would come across the textile souk, which is also known as the ‘old souk’. The ambiance is reminiscent of the 80s era with small sand-colored shops with wooden frames and architecture, offering a wide variety of clothing and fabric options at very nominal prices.
Meena Bazaar is my favorite market in Dubai. If you aren’t able to visit all the markets separately then it’s better to pay a visit to the Meena Bazaar. Once there, you will not feel as if you are in Dubai and it reminds so much of any traditional market in India. You will find everything here in its narrow lanes; from perfumes to dates, from gold to clothes, from Indian street food to Arabic shawarma, from souvenirs to first copies of watches.
It is extremely difficult to find tailors in Dubai, Meena Bazaar sorts that out for you. Keep 2 to 3 hours when visiting it. Get down at the Al Fahidi station of the green metro line and start walking towards the creek, Meena Bazaar will be on the left-hand side.
A market that is a little far from the city of Dubai towards the East Coast region. It started as a weekly market, which would be set up on Fridays in Masafi – yeah, the same Masafi from where the mineral water comes from. Today it has become a famous tourist place and is now on all weekdays not just Fridays.
You can visit the market for plants, fruits, vegetable, carpets, pottery, handicrafts and household items that are considerably cheaper than what you will find in Dubai.
Fruits & Vegetable Souk
It is in the Ras Al Khor region and is favored by the wholesale or bulk buyers. Now completely shaded, it is a perfect place to get your fresh veggies at a cheap price. You will find supermarket trolleys to help you with your stuff to the cars.
Naif Souk has come a long way from its older days of being just a camel market to being a full-fledged marketplace like Meena Bazaar. It is located in the old Deira district of Dubai. The lanes are narrow with shops cramped in and the market is amongst the oldest souks in Dubai. You can find perfumes, attar (ittra), phones, gifts, hardware and a lot of other things including some really cheap food options.
It is the ‘first-copy’ or ‘fakes’ market in Dubai. Located in the Al Karama region you can reach easily by metro and get down at the station with the same name. You will find copies of almost everything; bags, wallets, DVDs, jewelry, watches, shoes, sunglasses and so on. If you are not from the brand or an expert in that product you will not be able to tell the difference with the naked eye.
Some markets that are not the traditional souks but are named and are high-end markets.
Souk Madinat – it is the same market that we discussed in the Jumeirah region. The architecture brings the old-world charm to life with modern shopping outlets. It is a place for souvenirs, fine art and sculptures with some amazing cafes and restaurants.
The Souk – it is a dedicated area within the Dubai Mall reflecting the Emirati heritage and is famous for fine jewelry, precious metals and gemstones.
Souk Al Bahar – the perfect marriage of traditional Arabic marketplace with modern design, situated just on the shores of Khalifa Lake in Downtown Dubai. You can shop while enjoying the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa in the background. It is famous for Bateel dates, incense cones, jewelry, abayas, brass lamps and fresh Arabic pastries.
Note: The Gold Souk, Spice Souk and Perfume Souk are on the Deira side of the creek and The Textile Souk and Meena Bazaar on the Bur Dubai side.
On Fridays, most of the markets are closed in the first half and they usually open around 4-5pm.
All the beautiful women and wonderful shopaholics out there can thank me later and you can always reach out for any other information on what to buy and from where.
For all those who love shopping,
For all those who travel to markets,
For all those who collect souvenirs,
For all those who love traditional souks…
It’s not a goodbye,
But it’s a GOOD BYE.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul
This is the 19th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.
Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold
Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘T’
I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.