Shop at souks
Long ago, Dubai Creek was home to the site of the first settlement in the area. Today, Dubai’s best preserved (and most authentic) buildings, city blocks, and markets are still located near Dubai Creek in three, well-preserved districts: Bastakiya, Bur Dubai, and Deira.
Shopping at a souk, or traditional Arabian market, is a multi sensory experience. From fragrant spices to decadent silk, a souk will stimulate all six senses–the last being your sense of negotiation. You’ll be welcomed with tea, snacks, and warm conversation, all in preparation for the friendly (but intense) haggling to come. Remember to take your time, and most importantly, smile; it will get you further than you might think.
The gold souk might be the most famous of Dubai’s many markets. Located in Deira, the shops boast an array of gold jewelry in a variety of designs, from traditional to modern–and everything in between. From earrings to necklaces to bangles and even intimate wear made from gold, you can find everything here in a range from 22 to 24 karats. Some pieces are inlaid with other precious and semi-precious stones, or range in color from platinum white to rose pink.
Spice souks are the quintessential image of the Middle East, and Dubai’s do not disappoint. Stash your smartphone, close your eyes, and let the Spice Souk take you back to the fragrant, delicious past. Just steps away from the gold souk, Dubai’s spice markets contain thousands of stalls, stacked with heaping mounds of spices. They come in ever flavor, taste, smell, and texture known to man: cinnamon from Indonesia and Vietnam, turmeric from India, and saffron from Kashmir and Iran. Be sure also to try other products, as well, like dates, dried fruits, shisha, and even jasmine and basmati rice.
Across the river from the gold and spice souks, Dubai’s textile souk is located in the historic heart of Old Dubai. For generations since its settlement, the area has been home to merchants and their wares. Today, it just so happens to have an expansive collection of the finest fabrics from across the world. Touch soft cashmere from the finest pashmina goats, sample silk that empires rose and died for, and try on the distinct keffiyehs and shemaghs, native to the region. And don’t be afraid of the friendly shop cats, they’re there for your enjoyment.