Dubai Souqs - Our Top 5 List
Dubai is known for its luxury hotels, beach resorts, five-star service and not to forget its elaborate shopping malls, some of which have gone down in the record books. However, amongst the glitz and glamour, hidden behind the skyscrapers and record-breakers, are the little gems known as Souks.
A souq or souk is an Arabic term referring to a marketplace, where goods are bought and sold, most commonly spices, fabric, foods, leather and such. Historically, souks were held on the outskirts of cities where incoming cars and caravans would congregate and display their goods for sale. As time passed, and due to the importance of the marketplace for the growth of cities, the souks moved to the centers of town.
Dubai is blessed to have the best of both, the 5-star shopping malls - and souks filled with treasures and treats, scents and flavors of the Middle-East and Asia.
If you’re new to Dubai, just visiting or looking for a different experience then a visit to the souks are definitely a must, for their varied goods, bustling vibes and traditional feel, and to make life a whole lot simpler for you, we’ve got the top five must-see souks listed below!
1. Gold Souk
When most people think of Dubai, this is what they recognize – The City of Gold! We recommend taking a trip down to the Deira Gold Souk; located just 30-40 minutes away from Kempinski Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, we’re certain you won’t be disappointed. With its vast collection of shops and the immense variety of reasonable priced goods, the Gold Souk is definitely a must-visit spot on our souks list! Every shop is more elaborately adorned than the next, with bracelets, necklaces, rings and jewels sparkling from the window displays. If you’re purchasing, then remember, bartering and haggling is the norm, so start low, barter hard and meet somewhere in the middle.
2. Textile Souk
The textile souk, which is also commonly referred to as the Old Souk is part of the old trading center in Bur Dubai, over the Creek from Deira. The souk is reachable by way of Abra (a water boat/taxi crossing the creek) alternatively; you can take a regular taxi or the metro. The souk has been restored but still maintains its old world feel, with sand-colored stone buildings, topped with wooden roofing and wind towers. Here you will find a treasure trove of fabrics, in every color imaginable, from silks to cottons and pashminas, why not indulge in the truly luscious textiles.
3. Meena Bazaar
After the Arabic locals, the Indian community is the largest in Dubai. Many Indians have migrated to Dubai and have always played an important part in the business life here. Therefore within the city of Dubai, there are several Indian areas, one of which is Meena Bazaar, offering up a traditional shopping experience. Many visitors to this vibrant and bustling marketplace often compare it to a true Mumbai bazaar, for the large number of Indian clothing and textile shops that can be found in the premises, and the overall electric ambiance. Some other exciting goods that you can find are traditional Indian jewelry, scents, spices and furniture to name a few. Meena Bazaar is located only a few blocks from the Textile Souk in Bur Dubai, and if you continue to wander towards the Dubai Creek you can even stumble upon two Hindu temples.
4. Perfume Souk
The Perfume Souk is the name given to an assortment of shops just east of the Gold Souk, on Sikkat Al Khail Street in Deira,. Here you will find thousands of different scents to meet your every need – if however you aren’t able to find one you truly love then why not create your own scent? With the shop owner’s help, mix and match different scents to craft your one-of-a-kind perfume that you won’t find in any shopping mall. Also available for purchase is incense, which is sold in many forms such as stick and crystal, and one not to miss is the ever popular Frankincense.
5. Spice Souk
Also located in the Deira area, the Spice Souk is an intoxicating experience that will delight your senses. From a first glance, you’ll see bags and barrels stocked with spices of every color such as saffron, cinnamon, cloves and many more. As you stroll past the shops you will also find tea leaves, shisha flavor, rice and dry fruits amongst a variety of other goods that will make for a truly magnificent sensory experience. Just follow your nose for the best buys….
Have you ever visited any of these souks? If so, what was your most treasured buy - share your experiences with us in the comments.