An oriental atmosphere, wild bargaining, and a lot of hustle and bustle: a stroll through the traditional souks in the old and historic city center is a must for a visit to Dubai. The Arab markets in the districts of Deira and Bur offer a welcome change from the large shopping malls in Downtown Dubai or Jumeirah. Many small shops line up in the narrow streets.
It is lively, bustling, and loud when the visitors crowd through the covered market halls to buy gold, spices, or even perfume. Discover the bright colors in the textile souk, the exciting smells in the spice souk, and in the perfume souk, or let yourself be enchanted by the sparkling jewelry of the gold souk. But what exactly can you expect during a visit to the souk, what should you pay attention to, and what is the best behavior? In our Dubai blog, we have summarized the most important tips for visiting the souks in Dubai.
Shopping at Dubai Souk
As in the rest of the city, be sure to wear appropriate clothing in the souks. Both women and men should cover their shoulders and knees and respect the laws and rules of the Arab country. Too revealing clothing and a lot of bare skin are considered offensive and indecent in Dubai. Avoid attracting unwanted attention.
It is good to know what to expect before you arrive at the souk. The narrow streets are full of people, one shop lined up next to the next. Expect shopkeepers and street vendors to compete for your attention to get you to buy their wares. Don’t let that bother you. It is important that you maintain a friendly and polite tone to the salespeople.
If you are not interested in the merchants’ offered goods, simply say no in a friendly manner and move on.
Probably the most important ritual when shopping in the souk is haggling with the dealer. It’s a good form in the Arab world and the traditional way to make a purchase. You won’t find price tags that give you an idea of the value of the products. That is why it is all the more important to interact with the retailer in order not to pay overpriced prices. The first price proposal is always set very high, so your counteroffer (approx. 50% of the initial price) should be correspondingly low in order to finally meet in the middle after (several) negotiations (guide value: 30 percent lower than the initial price).
The sellers even expect a price suggestion from you if they are seriously interested in buying, otherwise, the dealer is dissatisfied because, in his opinion, he should have asked for a higher price. If you don’t show too much interest, however, if the negotiated price is still too high, just move on. Most of the time, the dealers meet the buyers again with the price. Most importantly, once a price has been negotiated, buyers and dealers should absolutely adhere to it. Those who withdraw from the purchase after a negotiated price attract the anger of the dealers.
If the process of haggling still creates uncertainty and uncertainty for you, stroll through the souks and watch the locals bargain. This will give you an asking price for the products and you will be able to come up with a suitable tactic and approach.
Textile soak in Dubai
Download a free currency converter to your smartphone in advance. This makes it easier to convert the prices mentioned. Most traders only quote the price of the goods in dirhams, the currency in Dubai.
If you always pay with cash in the souks in Dubai, you will get a significantly better price.
As you walk through the souks, you will quickly notice the many “flying” dealers who make you particularly cheap offers. Make sure that every dealer owns a shop right on Marktstrasse. This is sometimes not immediately noticeable at first glance, but if you are seriously interested in buying, the seller will usually take you to the premises of his shop. Under no circumstances should you accept offers from dealers who want to sell in shops away from the souk. On the one hand, there is a risk of fraud, and on the other, such unofficial transactions are not controlled.
If you move around the main streets of the souks, you can expect to pay higher prices for certain goods than in the side streets. Make sure, however, that the offer in the small alleys is reputable and that the dealers do not take advantage of you. As a rule, however, you will find cheap offers here, as there are not so many walk-in customers here.
If you are interested in buying gold in the souk in Dubai, it is advisable to check the current market price of the desired carat values (K) in advance. The prices change daily. Most of the shops in Dubai’s Gold Souk offer 18K, 20K, 21K, 22K, and 24K. The higher the carat, the purer the gold, with 24K being pure gold. The prices are per gram plus production costs.
You should definitely see it: The heaviest gold ring in the world, also known as the Star of Taiba, is in one of the jewelry stores (jeweler Taiba) of the Dubai Gold Souk.
The ring weighs almost 64 kg, is made of 21-carat gold, and is set with 5.17 kg of Swarovski crystals.
Due to the hot midday temperatures, most of the shops in the souks are closed between 1 pm and 4 pm. The souks are open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Dubai Souks can be easily reached by public transport. It is best to take the green subway line to Al Ras station, from here it is only a 5-minute walk to the Gold Souk. The textile souk in Bur Dubai can be reached from Deira either by Abra or by metro to the Al Ghubaiba stop (green line).