There are many supermarkets in Dubai. The main supermarkets include Spinneys, Waitrose, Carrefour and Geant (French), Choithrams (Indian), Park ‘n Shop, Lulu, Aswaq, and Union Coop, with any having branches in residential areas. They all sell a comprehensive range of foodstuffs from many parts of the world, though inevitably imported food can be expensive (especially vegetables). Most popular varieties and brands of frozen and tinned foods are generally available. Many of the large supermarkets have vegetable and fresh meat departments with fresh products flown in from the region or from areas such as Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Many have their own bakeries. Prices vary between supermarkets.
You can only buy pork products in separate sections of select stores, including Spinneys, Waitrose, Park and Shop, Al Maya and Choithrams. Whilst a wide selection of imported vegetables is available, local vegetables are generally cheaper but the selection is limited.
Fruit and Vegetable Market
A fruit and vegetable market is based in Ras Al Khor off the Emirates Road and is well signposted. Here you will find many stalls with fresh produce mainly sold in bulk. The market is a hub for importers and exporters, meaning most retailers do their shopping at the market. As it is the first destination of imports, the produce is fresh and cheap.
Dubai fish market is located on the Corniche Road in Deira, close to the Gold Souk and Al Shindagha tunnel. It boasts a stunning array of fish, including many varieties you may never have seen before. Cleaning, gutting and bargaining processes are as fascinating as they are polished. This market is currently undergoing a multimillion dirham renovation which will include new stalls, restaurants and a museum.
A new fish market opened recently in Umm Suqeim has been welcomed by residents of Jumeirah and other communities in south Dubai who otherwise had to rely on supermarkets or visiting old Dubai to purchase fresh fish.
Please note prices can change daily, depending on the fish stocks available. Always buy sustainable fish stock.
There are several healthy, organic outlets in Dubai offering everything from organic fruit and vegetables, to local eggs, raw honey, superfoods, dairy free alternatives and gluten free products.
Bio Organic: www.bioorganicstore.com
Organic Foods & Café: www.organicfoodsandcafe.com
The Farm House – Al Manzil Souk: www.thefarmhouse.ae
The Ripe farm market: www.ripeme.com
Alcohol is obtainable from two suppliers in Dubai: MMI (www.mmidubai.com) and African & Eastern (www.africaneastern.com). Their stores are located all over Dubai, mostly next to malls. In order to buy alcohol you are required to have a licence, which is issued only to non-Muslims by the police department. For more information regarding how to obtain an alcohol licence, ask the Outpost Iraq Dubai team for the related factsheet, available during your on-boarding session. Please note alcohol is only served in restaurants within hotels or select sports clubs in Dubai.
It is illegal to consume, purchase or transport alcohol without a licence.
There are excellent shopping facilities in Dubai; there is virtually nothing you cannot buy when shopping in Dubai. From gold to electronics, designer labels and luxury items, the emirate is packed with sprawling new shopping malls built side-by-side with older souks, where small shop owners sell everything from spices to clothing, to carpets and trinkets. Goods in Dubai are imported from all over the world including Turkey, Iran, India and China.
Dubai Shopping Malls
Shopping malls in the UAE are destinations in themselves: large, well-designed venues with excellent restaurants, cafés and a wide range of entertainment facilities. Some of the biggest malls in the region are located here. Mall of the Emirates on Sheikh Zayed Road retains its popularity as one of the most user-friendly malls and is home to the UAE's only indoor ski slope. The newly renovated Dubai Festival City by the Creek is in a delightful waterfront setting.
Ibn Battuta Mall is a large themed mall centred on the travels of the fourteenth-century Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta. The huge Dubai Mall, by the mesmeric Burj Khalifa, houses every conceivable outlet under the sun, as well as an enthralling aquarium and a giant ice rink. Dubai Marina Mall, located on the Sheikh Zayed Road side of Dubai Marina, keeps Marina residents happy with its facilities. On the other side of town, Mirdif City Centre has good leisure and entertainment facilities and you can find just about anything at a bargain price in the low cost DragonMart on the road to Hatta and Dubai Outlet Mall on the Al Ain Road.
Other longer-established malls which continue to improve their range of outlets are Magrudy’s, Mercato Mall, the Jumeirah Plaza and the Beach Centre in Jumeirah. Bur Juman in Bur Dubai and Wafi Mall in Wafi City in the Umm Hurair district of Dubai contain upmarket department stores as well as many European and American chain stores.
In addition, the Oasis Centre along Sheikh Zayed and Times Square in Al Quoz are easily reachable malls with good electric supplies and outdoor equipment stores. There are many new malls being developed along the new canal extension.
Dubai Souks and Shopping Areas
“Souk” or “Souq” is the Arabic word for market or place where any kind of goods can be bought or exchanged. Dubai has a number of souks scattered all over the city. Dubai souks are bright, colourful, noisy and fascinating like any other market place.
The Gold Souk is one of Dubai's most famous and popular tourist attractions located in the heart of Dubai's commercial business district in Deira. Covered alleyways are lined with small shops displaying tray after tray of ornate gold jewelry and precious stones.
The Dubai Spice Souk is a traders’ paradise located just next to the Gold Souk with a wide selection of spices on offer.
The Old Souk/Textile Souk lies over the Creek in Bur Dubai. The bazaar Bur Dubai Souk near Dubai Museum is also known as the Textile Souk. Souvenirs and knick-knacks are on sale here, but the area is best known for its stunning array of fabrics. These Souks are easily accessed using the Creek abras, but are mainly outdoor areas and thus best avoided during the hot summer months.
Further up the road from the Gold and Spice Souks is Deira’s Perfume Souk. This Souk deals in everything scented, from pure perfume to essential oils, incense sticks to the ever-popular traditional Oud.
Dubai’s Satwa and Karama areas have smaller shops and are generally visited for the many bargains available. The Gold and Diamond Park, although technically not a mall, is also a destination for those interested in jewelry.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Souk Al Bahar (in Downtown Dubai) and Khan Murjan (in Dubai Wafi City) represent Dubai’s more modern Souks. These souks are vibrant reconstructions of traditional Arabian bazaars, but with a modern twist: they encourage the works of local artisans and bring back the magic of the Middle East. The fact that these Souks are indoor and air-conditioned does result in higher prices being asked for the products.
Furniture and Household Equipment
There are a large number of furniture shops in Dubai such as IKEA, Home Centre, Homes r Us, Pan Emirates, The One, ID Design, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and Marina Home where European/Western or Indian/Colonial type furniture and furnishings can be purchased. Many furniture and carpet shops are situated along the Umm Hurair road, near Al Maktoum bridge, with a wide range of European and American style furniture. DragonMart, which is a huge complex near International City in Dubai, also has a range of furniture manufactured in China. There are also many boutique designer stores that offer the high quality furniture at matching prices.
Pakistani, Afghani and Persian hand-made rugs are widely available, as well as all types of soft furnishings. Curtains are generally made-to-measure and are of good quality. There are curtain shops in Satwa which have good selections of curtain fabrics at reasonable prices; they will also make and fit curtains.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in the United Arab Emirates usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC with three primary socket types of European, British and Indian. If your appliance is already compatible with 220-240 volt electrical input, one or more of travel plug adapters (depending on which type of outlet is installed in any given specific building) will allow you to plug in.
All major brand televisions, video, DVD, stereo and computer equipment as well as white goods are available, generally at lower prices than in Europe at Jumbo, Jackie Electronics, Al Ghandi Electronics, Sharaf DG or Carrefour.
Kitchen equipment, vacuum cleaners, polishers, blankets and sheets can all be bought locally in the main shopping malls, department stores and the souks. China and glassware is widely available, though quality and price vary. Tavola, with several outlets, is one specialist in upmarket kitchen supplies.
Dressmaking and tailoring
There are numerous tailors all over Dubai that can copy patterns and designs. Most tailors and fabric shops are located in Satwa and Mina Bazzar both for men and women. It is worth seeking personal recommendations too, so why not post your question on our Outpost Iraq Dubai facebook page.
Garden and Flower Shops
Around the city there are a range of gardening shops and nurseries offering a wide variety of plants, pots and other gardening materials. Prices vary widely and it pays to shop around.
For tips on where best to buy your pots, plants and gardening materials, check out our Dubai Inside Guide.
Many pharmacies are open 24 hours a day and on Fridays throughout Dubai. You will find that most medicines are available over the counter, without a doctor’s prescription. However, there is a list of around 400 banned medicines in the UAE and carrying them is punishable. Check with the Ministry of Health, or the UAE Consulate or Embassy for the most up to date information. In addition, for a list of UAE restricted and controlled medicines or drugs see http://www.uaeinteract.com/travel/drug.asp
Dubai’s fantastic climate, with very pleasant temperatures from November to April, provides the perfect environment for all kinds of outdoor sports and activities. Dubai offers a wide range of sports, ranging from the more traditional such as running, tennis, golf, cricket and football to more adventurous activities like skydiving, mountain biking, rock climbing, dune bashing and wadi driving. Water sports are also very popular in Dubai, with many opportunities for scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, water skiing and kite surfing along Dubai’s extensive coastline.
During the summer months when the air temperatures rise and the heat is intense, there are numerous indoor activities for everyone to enjoy with an array of venues around the city for sports such as badminton, table tennis, squash, yoga and basketball to skiing and ice-skating. Dubai exhibition centre converts into a multi purpose indoor sports hub for three months over summer and features; football, tennis, squash, basketball and volley ball courts along with a running track and full indoor gymnasium.
For more information on the wide range of outdoor activities available in Dubai – such as cycling, tennis, basketball, netball, watersports, fitness, golf, sailing, desert driving and camping, horseback riding, cricket, football, soccer, rugby, running – please see our Dubai Inside Guide.
Music and the Performing Arts
Dubai’s multi-cultural community has had a strong influence on music and the performing arts in the city, with a wide range of styles and genres emerging, from the classical to the contemporary. There are plentiful opportunities to learn and perfect skills as well as enjoying great performances and concerts from top international artists and musicians as well as numerous exhibitions and galleries throughout the city.
For more information on art galleries, music centres and other venues in Dubai, please see our Dubai Inside Guide.
For tips on where best to buy sports equipment, musical instruments, tools, DIY equipment, pet equipment, books, magazines, stationery, nursery equipment and toys, check out our Dubai Inside Guide.