Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dubai Souqs and Bazaars

Dubai Souqs & Bazaars

The Dubai souqs are the most popular among visitors, partly because of the bargains, but mostly because of the massive selection available for every conceivable type of product. The Dubai souqs are not as fascinating as the true traditional and ancient souqs in Marrakesh, Morocco or Mutrah, Oman, but it's the most crowded on any given day. The early souqs were focused on trading in spices, silks, perfumes and precious metals, but now the markets have expanded to include consumer electronics, household appliances, gaming systems, toys and novelties and much more.

Deira, which is mainly residential and the oldest section of Dubai, houses the majority of the souqs, including the famous Gold Souq and Spice Souq. If time permits, you can visit both sides of the Dubai Creek, by crossing the creek on an abra (small wooden raft-like vessel), which costs you just one dirham. (around $0.25). The souqs open as early as 7:00 am daily (except on Friday) and stay open till 12:00 noon, which is the start of the mid-afternoon break. They re-open at 5:00 pm and stay open till 7:00 pm. Thursdays and Fridays are best avoided if you are looking for leisurely shopping, as these are the busiest days at the souq (Dubai's weekend).

The Dubai Gold Souq is the most sought-after bargain hunting destination for tourists. You can be at the Dubai Gold Souq all day and be unable to decide on a single purchase, such is the vast variety of gold, diamonds, silver, pearls, emeralds, rubies and amethysts. If you're only window-shopping, you can simply start from one street and finish at the other end, but people who visit the Dubai Gold Souq rarely go away without buying something. Thousands of shops line the streets and the prices are often less than half of what you'll find in the rest of the world.

Then, there's the Dubai Spice Souq. The aroma will waft across your nostrils, tempting you to try one after another of the amazingly delightful spices from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Stocked from shelf to shelf above and row to row on the floor, the spice stalls now line a few narrow streets, shadowed by the new cheap goods stalls coming up all around. The diminishing number of stalls are perhaps due to another reason – all super markets in Dubai today offer a wide range of spices too. Regardless, if a cultural experience is what you need, you simply have to visit the Spice Souq.

Other Dubai souqs include the Textile Souq, Bur Dubai Souq, Satwa Souq, Food Souq, Perfume Souq, Electronics Souq, Mina Bazaar and the Fish Market. Despite Dubai's prevalent mall culture, these souqs are a perfect for an off-the-beaten path shopping experience.

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