Think Dubai and images of swanky high-rise malls with a million brand names under one roof inundate your mind. The city has become the uncontested champion of shopping in the world; with Dubai shop selling the most intricately designed handmade stuff to exclusive designer merchandise. Whether you want to shop for clothes, perfumes, eatables, watches, gold remember bargaining can save you a neat profit. Though the city offers duty-free shopping, import duties are applicable as anywhere else in the world. A word of caution though is to be sure of the genuineness of what you are buying during Dubai shopping.
So with Dubai Shopping Festival just around the corner, if you’re headed to the city, here’s the lowdown on what kind of things should top your Dubai shopping list:
For the gold loving tourists, ornaments, bars, and biscuits bought in Dubai fetch a neat price back home. It is advisable to produce the requisite bills etc. at the airport otherwise, an unforeseen fine can burn a hole in your pocket. Ornaments sold in Dubai are known for their intricate and exquisite craftsmanship.
An ideal souvenir for a friend would be a khanjar – a traditional curved dagger worn by Arab men over their shirt. Originally, it was made of rhino horn but since rhino horn is banned now, khanjars are made of wood with an intricate detailing of silver on its scabbard. More the silver intrications, costlier it is likely to be. A good quality khanjar is usually heavy. Don’t get lured by shopkeepers that tell you a particular khanjar is very old. The finishing renders most of these daggers an antique look, but rarely would you find one that’s actually more than 40 years old, and we bet its owner will demand a hefty price for it.
A good pashmina is a very safe bet to buy in Dubai. The super soft, light yet warm shawls are suitable for both, men and women. With a little knowledge about pashmina, you can score a piece whose workmanship and the fabric is a real steal. There is no dearth of colors, patterns and varieties.
Since Dubai is known for its one hundred percent pure pashminas, you can safely buy one of your choices, but still be aware of fakes. A fake pashmina would have polyester mixed in it and wouldn’t be as silky soft as an original. It is always better to be sure of the quality you are buying, so acquaint yourself with a pure pashmina, feel its texture and try to go for the closest piece in the shop.
To visit the desert city of Dubai and come back without bateel (dates) is unthinkable. Bateel dates are big, sweet and juicy in the center. You’ll find Dubai shops stacked with hundreds of bateel dates in alluring pyramids that might look like jewels at first. Bateel is grown in Saudi Arabia, where it finds the perfect climate to flourish. Understandably, the marketing is hardcore. Bateel dates are sold in a combination with all kinds of nuts and flavors. The exquisite packaging is befitting to gift to a king.
Quick tip: Look for agwa dates, which are rare and a tad bit expensive, but worth every penny. You’re likely to find them around November during Dubai shopping.
An ideal buy for a gourmet is cardamom flavored milk, rose syrup and saffron. Use innovatively to infuse taste and essence in your dishes. Spices like zaatar (a blend of thyme, sesame, marjoram, and oregano) can spice up soups, stew, and salads in an instant. Sumac has a lemony taste and can be used to enhance the taste of salads, hummus, and kebabs.
An authentic traditional ittar or perfume is a must buy. Oil-based and long lasting, it is applied directly on the skin. Infused with natural flowers, stems and herbs it can be a light floral scent or a powerful woody one- depends on your mood and the time of the day. The best thing about perfumes bought from Dubai shop is that you’re highly unlikely to find another person wearing the same scent as you- they’re that personalized!
To make a trip to Dubai and return without a carpet would be extremely hard on your desires. The quality of the wool, knot density, wool treatment and of course the intricacy of the design determines the price of the carpet. Remember to opt for carpets colored using vegetable dye, as opposed to chemical dyes which don’t lend them half the vibrancy that vegetable dyes do. Try to spend time in every rug shop, casually glancing at what you’re interested in. Being too enthusiastic will lower your threshold to bargain with the shopkeeper.