The traditional part of Dubai is also present through its souks or traditional markets. The most famous are the old souk, the spice market and the gold market.
The Golden Souk
The Golden Souk is famous for holding the Guinness record for the most gold per square metre and for having the largest gold ring in the world. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, I assure you that the visit will not disappoint you.
The Gold Souk is generally considered to be the largest gold bazaar in Arabia and one of the best places in the world to buy jewellery, gold, silver and precious stones.
Situated on the Deira side of Dubai Cove are the most famous souks in Dubai: here is the one dedicated to gold and jewellery (Dubai Gold Souk) which, in addition to being the largest of its kind in the world, is one of the most lively. So it goes without saying that you cannot leave Dubai without having visited it before and, who knows, having closed some good deals.
Indeed, the price of gold in Dubai is very competitive (it is estimated to be one of the lowest in the world) and this undoubtedly contributes to making negotiations between customers and traders particularly lively: you can hardly resist the temptation to approach one of the sparkling displays and start negotiations to bring home top quality jewellery at decidedly affordable prices.
Among the 300 sellers present, you will have no trouble finding jewellers who customise the models.
A new gold market exists, located near the Mall of the Emirates. This souk has a less traditional look but is another excellent place to get custom-made jewellery and unique pieces.
How to get to the Gold Souk
It is located 600 metres from the green metro station Al Ras. The spice souk is adjacent to the gold souk. Opening hours 9:30 to 21:30 daily.
Also in Deira, just south of the Gold Souk is the popular Spice Souk. Visit the souks that sell an assortment of dried herbs and spices: you won’t have time to enter and you will be overwhelmed by the aromas of saffron, incense and curry, displayed in distinctive jute bags.
Getting lost in this riot of colours and smells will certainly be a real pleasure, as will deciding to buy (always haggling over the price) to perfume your dishes once you get home.
Opening hours: from Saturday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., closing in the afternoon between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Friday is open from 4 to 10 pm.
How to get to the spice souk
Deira, near the Abra station (traditional boats). The nearest metro is the green line and stops at Al Ras station, just over 300 metres away.
The perfume souk
Just east of the Souk de l’Or, it is not a real traditional souk, like the first two, but a group of shops specialising in the sale of perfumes.
You can let yourself be seduced by the different perfumes and let yourself be conquered by the ones you prefer, be they sweet or aggressive, feminine or masculine. Are you undecided or haven’t found anything that suits you? Create your own personalised fragrance for a unique gift or buy an oud or bakhoor to perfume your home.
How to get to the perfume souk
Shops are mainly concentrated in Sikkat on Khail Road; but you can also find them in Al Soor and Souk Deira streets. In any case, you can easily find them east of the Gold Souk.
Souk Madinat Jumeraih
The idea of entering an “artificial” souk (i.e. a non-traditional, but custom-built souk) may turn the nose of purists, but it may also tempt those who do not like the manners of the souk sellers (some of them a little too intrusive) or the noise that reigns in the souks of Deira.
The Madinat Jumeraih souk, a few steps away from the Burj Al Arab, will therefore be a valid alternative: located inside a luxury seaside resort, it is a faithful reconstruction of a traditional souk, with wooden ceilings and wind towers, stalls and local crafts, small restaurants and an atmosphere of a thousand and one nights.
The atmosphere may not be as authentic as in the souks of Deira, but it still has something winning and convincing about it: between locals and tourists there are always plenty of people sitting at tables or looking at the goods for sale which, unlike the traditional souks, are decidedly more varied. You can find a keffiyeh and a pair of shoes a few steps away!
In short, the Souk Madinat Jumeraih could rightly be considered a third shopping street in Dubai: in addition to the giant shopping malls and traditional souks, here is a place that puts the present of fashionable products back in the past. The night visit is an immersive experience, as the souk comes alive with music and activity.
In the souks, faithful to the Arab tradition, you will be “attacked” by more or less insistent sellers, especially if they are easily recognizable as tourists.
It is obvious that you are not obliged to buy something, but if you decide to do so, the word of obligation is one and only one: haggling!