The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are fast becoming a leading tourist destination, with visitors flocking to indulge in the little slice of luxury offered by its glittering cities. Shopping is a popular pastime here, boosted by breath-taking malls that act as stylish air-conditioned meeting places away from the hot streets. As the UAE is a tax-free country, many visitors take advantage of the lower prices of luxury goods to indulge in some serious shopping at the world’s biggest labels. Whether you’re investing in a Chanel coat, a Rolex watch, or even a Porsche, you can buy it all at the UAE’s luxurious shopping destinations.
For those looking for a shopping experience that feels a bit more authentic, you can also head to the souk markets to find beautiful Middle Eastern products such as gold, spices, and Persian rugs. Read on to discover the best destinations to indulge your desire for luxury shopping, from the biggest malls to the most stylish boutiques.
The Dubai Mall, Dubai
As you might expect, the world’s biggest mall has something for everyone. Whether you’re after high street steals from names such as Zara and Topshop, high-end designers like Chanel and Lanvin, or you simply want to skate around an Olympic-sized rink, you can find it here. Under one massive, shiny roof, you’ll find over a thousand retailers and an incomparable number of restaurants, entertainment venues and more. They even have an Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (seriously!) so why not visit the sea life first to get some style inspiration?
Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
This opulent mall is many people’s favourite out of Dubai’s wealth of mega malls. Sumptuously designed with polished marble floors and a stunning atrium looking up to the sky, there are few luxury shopping destinations that feel quite so, well, luxurious. Mall of the Emirates has a huge selection of shops, from the expect high-street names, to an enormous Harvey Nichols, to a range of exclusive boutiques. Like many UAE malls, it’s not just about the shopping though. It also boasts an amazing indoor ski slope if you fancy practising a few turns to clear your head while you decide between two pairs of shoes. You can easily spend all day hanging out in this stylish mall, only pausing to refuel at one of the high-quality restaurants. If you find you can’t make it round in one go, don’t worry, there is even a stylish hotel on site; just check in to Kempinski Mall of the Emirates and carry on tomorrow!
Gold and Spice Souks, Dubai
Some of the best things to purchase in the UAE are the kind of things we often associate with shopping in the Middle East: carpets, textiles, gold, and spices. You can easily find these at the traditional souks, which remain amazing places to shop despite becoming a little more touristy in recent years. No shopping experience in Dubai would be complete without visiting the Gold Souk, where stall after stall glitters with more gold than you’ve ever seen. Haggling isn’t essential here, as it is in some countries, but it is the only way you’ll get the best price. If you want to try your skills, simply start by offering half of the asking price and slowly working your way up in increments. Be sure to remain respectful and you’ll not only have great fun but get a great bargain too.
Amzaan Fashion Boutique, Dubai
Discerning fashionistas might feel a little disappointed that Dubai’s luxury fashion shopping is often dominated by western brands. If you know where to look, however, you’ll see that there’s loads of amazing Emirati fashion talent coming out of Dubai at the moment. Pop into somewhere like Amzaan Fashion Boutique, which is owned by local Princess Sheikha Maisa al-Qassimi, to find work by local designers. Look out for the Pink Sushi label of Dubai-born designer Raghda Bukhash, who was playing with Emirati culture and symbols long before those keffiyeh and gutra showed up on big-name catwalks.
Abu Dhabi Mall, Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Mall is an example of how to successfully marry luxury brand shopping with carefully curated, locally sourced treats. As well as hundreds of stores, cinemas, and a variety of amusements, the mall also offers local specialities such as perfumes, nuts, and Arabic sweets. This is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir with a bit of a difference and take home a scent or taste of the Middle East rather than just another designer handbag.
Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi
Set along the breakwater on Corniche Road, Marina Mall is the perfect place to pop in when the weather outside is just too hot for sightseeing. They have an amazing selection of international fashion brands, but it’s all the extras that make this mall truly special. It is home to a multiplex cinema, bowling alley, and mid-sized ice rink, but then so is every mall in the UEA. Marina Mall manages to outshine everywhere else, however, by having roller coaster rides in the actual mall. If all that adrenaline doesn’t appeal to you, go and see the famous musical fountain, which gives light and water shows set to hit songs such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Avenue at Etihad, Abu Dhabi
For the kind of shoppers that don’t want to fight their way through the high-street offerings to get to the luxury brands they’re looking for, Avenue at Etihad is the perfect shopping destination. Combining all the major fashion houses with smaller boutique offerings, this is a shopping mall that feels exclusive for a reason. Set over two floors as part of the Etihad Towers development, Avenue at Etihad is the place to go for cutting-edge men’s and women’s fashion from all the designers you want to be seen wearing this season.
Madinat Zayed Gold Centre, Abu Dhabi
The UEA is famed for its gold shops and if you’re on the hunt for all things that glitter, you won’t find anywhere better to shop than the Madinat Zayed Gold Centre. This bustling marketplace has over 70 jewellery stores offering gold, precious stones, and pearls from across the globe. If you’re planning to buy, rather than just marvel at all that beauty in one place, be sure to check gold prices online before you invest.
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