Dubai Shopping Guide: Malls, Markets and Real Estate
Shopping in Dubai is arguably the favorite and most popular entertainment for tourists who have come to the UAE. The enormous shopping malls with incredible, luxurious architecture and a wide assortment of products mesmerize visitors — so here’s a shopping guide for them to gain the most out of their experiences in the city.
Top 4 Things to Buy in Dubai You Should Focus on First
Dubai is a versatile city, able to cater to a wide variety of tastes and interests, including those of shopping aficionados. Around 46% of high-end retailers are represented in Dubai, making it one of the world's top shopping capitals.
Here, one can find almost anything their heart desires. Shopaholics, however, tend to agree that jewelry, real estate property, perfumery, cosmetics, coffee, and tobacco deserve particular attention. (Yeah, shopping in Dubai has range.) Let us dive deeper into these categories and discuss why they are so good— and where you can find them in Dubai.
Jewels and Adornments
“The City of Gold” is one of many names bestowed upon Dubai throughout history, and for a good reason. Gold in the United Arab Emirates is cheaper, compared to most other countries, making it one of the favorite commodities among local shoppers. One of the reasons for this is the low tax rates on the import of gold to the country. The quality of Dubai gold is high.
Jewelry, made of traditional, yellow gold has the most representation — however, white and pink gold adornments and accessories are equally easy to find.
To procure gold items one might visit the Gold Souk. It is an assemblage of more than 220 gold-selling stores, housed in the famous Dubai Mall — the largest mall in the world as of this date.
Modern Dubai architecture is second to none. Local real estate attracts buyers from all over the world not only with its futuristic beauty but also because it is a truly profitable investment.
Dubai is regarded by many as the most advanced emirate in the UAE, infrastructure-wise. In 2002, Dubai saw several changes to its legislation, including the establishment of DMCC - Dubai free trade zone. This allowed foreigners to establish business ventures in the city without having to partner with local small businesses, which created job opportunities and enticed people to move to Dubai. This, in turn, stimulated the demand for real estate. Another major change of 2002 was the foreign property ownership decree that enabled citizens of other countries to own property in the United Arab Emirates. All of this has resulted in the Dubai construction boom. (It would be fair to argue that culture- and ecosystem-wise, this was a part of gentrification efforts that have pushed people who have already established the business in the city to the margins of visible markets.)
The benefits of owning real estate in Dubai are many. For starters, the city is a hub of innovation and a premier tourist destination. Many can find new and exciting working opportunities here. Others choose to retire in Dubai or simply relocate due to the city's supreme infrastructure, history, and the perspective to live on the crossroads of different cultures. In fact, expats and immigrants are, like, almost 89% of Dubai’s population.
Another advantage is that by buying real estate in Dubai which is worth 1 million AED (around 270 000 USD) a person becomes eligible for a 2-year residence investor visa. The purchase of the real estate that costs more than 5 million AED (1,36 million USD) grants eligibility for a renewable 5-year visa. Property that costs more than 10 million AED (2,7 million USD) allows a person to apply for a 10-year visa — as long as the real estate in question remains unsold for a minimum of 3 years.
Those who chose not to reside in the procured property will find how easy and profitable it is to rent it out to tourists and/or immigrant workers. One of the perks of acquiring real estate in a country with modern infrastructure is the possibility to buy luxury properties in the city and, as they say, enjoy your best life as the main character in your own opulent story (if that’s what you want, of course.)
Perfumes and Cosmetics
In Dubai, one can find perfumery and cosmetics of famous brands at a lower price than in, for instance, Europe or America. Local manufacturers deserve close attention too — Arabian perfumery is of the highest quality, made from the finest ingredients. Here you can easily find cosmetics and perfumes that are all-natural and/or vegan.
Perfumes typically combine notes of the seven families of smells, namely floral, citrus, amber, chypre, fougère, woody, and leather. The first four are mostly found in “feminine” perfumes, while the last three are said to be “masculine” scents — however, gender-neutral perfumes are gaining popularity around the world.
These products can be procured in any shopping center, but one might want to visit a market instead of a posh boutique — sellers there can create a unique fragrance for a unique customer, and doesn’t it sound so much better?
Coffee and Tobacco
Coffee aficionados rejoice! In Dubai, one can find coffee beans from every corner of the globe. Coffee is loved by the locals — its quality and diverse representation in the country are impressive.
Another product popular among adult locals and tourists in the UAE is tobacco. It must be mentioned that persons that are not 18 years or older, cannot buy it. Plus, procuring large quantities might not be advisable as customs duties might apply.
While in Dubai, sample delectable sweets from Western Asia, offered by vendors of the city. Local favorites include kunafa (noodle-like pastry with cheese filling), lugaimat (deep-fried dumplings with date syrup), umm ali (pastry with cream, milk, and nuts), roz bel laban (rice pudding), halawat el jibn (pastry with cream and custard), basbousa (semolina cake) and baklava (filo pastry with honey). Sweets can be found everywhere from markets to wonderful cafes and even chain stores, such as the Iranian Sweets.
Dubai also offers many opportunities to buy various spices, including saffron, dried hibiscus, turmeric, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, and others. Spices are best to buy on the markets like Spices Souk, where you can get a better price, see colorful displays of goods and chat with locals.