"Souk" is the Arabic word for a place where any kind of goods can be sold or exchanged.
As you are in Dubai, there are many souqs you can visit depending on your taste and shopping needs ... I can suggest you to give a try to souqs concerning items as in Gold Souq, Deira Spice and Perfume Souq, Bur Dubai Covered Souq and Deira Covered Souq ...
Most of the Dubai souqs are clustered around the old part of Dubai, on both sides of the entrance to Dubai Creek. Many of these souqs, such as the gold ,textile and spice souqs, date back to Dubai's beginnings as a palm-fringed trading port.
Enjoy ... :)
On the west bank of the Creek (as opposed to the other main souqs which are found on the other side of the Creek), Bur Dubai Souq is housed under a recently renovated wooden arcade. Primarily textiles and clothing - beautiful saris and pashminas mixed with T-shirts, tourist curios and arabian slippers. And in some of the narrower alleys you can find tailors bent over old-fashioned sewing machines.
My personal favourite souk in Dubai - the Deira Souk is the market of the everyday. Not food (although it is available) but everyday household needs. Divided into sections, there's the Utensils Souk, for example, full of stalls selling - yep, utensils.
As a result it is less touristy with a great deal more character, spread as it is over a number of backstreets, alleyways and walkways.
The Jumeirah Madinat Souq is a beautiful shopping mall that makes up part of a luxurious resort consisting of the souq, two luxury hotels and a beach. The theme of the resort is traditional Arabic architecture built on the banks of several man-made canals. As well as admiring the beautiful architecture, there are lots of shops and restaurants here. It is also possible to go on a boat trip around the canals for 60AED.
There are excellent views of the Burj Al Arab Hotel from here.
To get here you can take the number 8 bus from Ibn Battuta Mall, Gold Souq bus station, or Al Ghubiba Bus Station. The Jumeirah Madinat Souq is next to the Wild Wadi Water Park.
Souq is the Arabic word for Market.
Just adjacent to the Gold Souq, the Spice/Perfume Souq offers a multitude of Arabic fragrances & seasonings, with exotic aromas from cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla pods & incense, imported from all over the region. The Spice Souq is also known as the "Perfume Souq" or simply "Deira Old Souq".
You've probably had certain ideas about what an exotic Middle-Eastern bazaar ought to look like - Dubai's very own Spice Souq does not disappoint this expectation.
Even after all these years, I still LOVE walking through the narrow passages, sampling with my nose & eyes, vibrant colours, hectic merchants, running delivery men... yes, this truly is one of the few places where time seems to have stood still...
TIP: If you pass by a bakery/restaurant, try a "Zaatar Manakish" - a hot, cheesy bread sprinkled with thyme; delicious! Most of the herbs & spices you find here are far cheaper than in Europe & possess far stronger flavour, such as cinnamon sticks, saffron, vanilla pods & cloves.
--> UPDATE March 2012: I went to the Spice Souk to purchase some ingredients for my cooking & baking... a fair price for 3 vanilla pods (make sure they're moist) is max Dhs 15.-
There are hundreds of shops offering a profusion of heavy, oily scents in the adjacent "Perfume Souq". A little goes a long way! Frankincense and "Buchhur or Oud", the traditional incense that is sprinkled over glowing coals, is widely used by Gulf Arabs in their homes & on their clothes.
TIP: Don't forget to bargain; don't accept the first price & be sure to compare prices in the numerous shops.
Many shops sell small "incense sets" consisting of a miniature Persian carpet, and a small wooden & golden chest containing myrrh and frankincense - the famous gifts the 3 Wise Men brought the Christ Child.
TIP: Women visiting the Souqs should please make sure their legs & shoulders are covered. Dubai is very safe, but the Souks are male-dominated areas where every bit of female skin is gawked at. You may even find that some men will follow "indecently" dressed women around, in the belief that they are prostitutes.
Opening Hours: Sat. to Thur. 10:00am-01:00pm & 05:00pm-10:00pm.
NOTE: The main walkway is open to the elements, only the individual shops have air-conditioning. Therefore, only visit the souks after sunset during the summer.
The poorest souk in Dubai is the cloths area - it's easy to understand, that, with so many malls and brands around, things are not favorable to traditional commerce in this area.
Maybe for locals, but... who are them? where are they?
In the malls, like everybody else, of course
If you don't have the time for a full-day city tour, or if you have wisely decided that your suicidal tendencies aren't sufficiently strong to evoke the need to hire a car & drive in Dubai's crazy traffic, the Big Bus Tour is a convenient & safe alternative to see the city. I know plenty of VT-members that have spent a few interesting transit-hours in our city on this bus.
You can hop-on & off at your leisure (tickets are valid for 24 hours or 48 hours). Tours operate daily between 09:00am-05:00pm. Since the year 2010 there are now even Night tours! The tour has recorded commentary in 8 different languages.
PRICES (year 2011) for 24 hours:
Adults: AED 220.-
Children (aged 5-15): AED 100.-
Family (2 adults & 2 children): AED 540.-
PRICES (yer 2011) for 48 hours:
Adults: AED 290.-
Children (aged 5-15): AED 130.-
Family (2 adults & 2 children): AED 700.-
PRICES (year 2011) for Night Tour:
Adults: AED 125.-
Children (aged 5-15): AED 75.-
Family (2 adults & 2 children): AED 330.-
(1 US $ = 3.67 AED / Dirhams)
One ticket covers 2 routes:
If you want to see the "real Dubai" & best sights, I recommend the Red Route, which includes the Dubai Creek, Al Fahidi Fort & Dubai Museum, the Souqs (bazaars) and a few shopping malls.
The Blue Route covers mostly the 5-star hotels & fanciest shopping malls. I guess this tour is useful if you want to take a lot of pictures for "showing off" later ;-)
Free Walking Tour: (October - April only!)
STARTS: Al Fahidi Fort (Dubai Museum) Stop 3.
FINISHES: Dubai Gold Souk stop 6 (where you rejoin your tour).
Free Dhow Creek Cruise:
Daily from Abra Station (stop 7) at 11:30am, 01:30pm, 03:30pm and 05:30pm.
Souq is the Arabic word for Market.
The city's famous souqs have attracted merchants from as far as India, Iran, Africa and beyond since the late 19th century. With Dubai being a trading hub for gorgeous materials from the subcontinent, it makes perfect sense to buy by the yard & tailor the style of your favourite garment. From cotton to silk, chequered lumberjack to beautiful Indian Sari, lace & netting, Pashmina Shawls, it's all here. This is the Textile Souq, where you can see exquisite fabrics to suit every taste and wander around the small winding alleys enjoying the historic sights & sounds. After all: "Bur Dubai" means "old Dubai".
--> (Also see my *Tourist Trap Tip* on Pashmina Shawls!)
More than shopping, I enjoy walking around the souq because it's one of the simpler, more "basic" & traditional parts of the city. And even though the Textile Souq recently received a major overhaul & restoration, it's still a lot more traditional & down-to-earth than shiny, cold & modern malls (and a lot cheaper, too). I have bought curtain material, fashion jewellery & also an Indian Saree here (see photo).
I just love ending a busy day of shopping with a Mint Tea and a Sheesha in one of the small restaurants, watching the creek and the city's life pulsating around it.
TIP: Don't forget to bargain; don't accept the 1st price & be sure to compare prices. If you find that you need more cash (very possible) there are ATM machines and a Thomas Cook exchange bureau.
TIP: Women should please make sure their legs & shoulders are covered. The Souqs are male-dominated areas where every bit of female skin is gawked at. Some men will even follow "indecently" dressed women around.c*
The heart of every shopper & every photographer will gasp with joy when entering the souk along the historic creek. Don't miss it!
Opening Hours: Saturdays - Thursdays 09:30am-01:00pm & 04:30-10:00pm.
NOTE: The main walkway is open to the elements, only the individual shops have air-conditioning. Therefore, only visit the souqs after sunset during the summer.
--> Update 2010: The nearest Metro Station is at Bur Juman Mall (Khalid bin Al Waleed Station.) Some nearby places to park are: Seef Street, by the British Consulate. Parking lot of HSBC bank, Al Fahidi Street. Parking lot of Carrefour Supermarket, Al Shindagha.
(Cross the creek & explore the Gold Souq on the opposite shore as well!)
Souks - most of the souks are near the Gold Souk Bus Station. We visited the gold souk, perfume souk and spice souk. The souks are open air so very very hot during the day. Many shops close for a long lunch so it's not good to visit in the middle of the day. Vendors will approach you frequently to try and sell you copy watches, designer hand bags and tailored clothes. While it was a bit hassley, the vendors were not particulary persistant. Or maybe I just look poor. The area was certainly worth a look but very very hot when we were there.
The spice souk is just across the road from an abra station. You can take an abra across the creek for 1 diarahm. It only takes around 5 minutes to cross, but it is fun and gives a good oportunity for taking photos. The old souk, the grand mosque, Iranian Mosque and Dubai Museum are walking distance from the abra station on the Bur Dubai side.
Daily at 6pm the dancing fountains at Dubai Mall start. You can watch them every 20 minutes up until 10pm Sunday - Wednesday and until 11pm from Thursday - Saturday. Stand and watch or have a meal in the adjacent restaurants as different fountain displays are programmed with accompanying songs in English and Arabic. The Burj Khalifa (formally Burj Dubai) also towers above the water displays to add to the atmosphere.
Free to watch outside Dubai Mall and opposite Souq Al Bahar.
Visit the Souq Madinat to have a nice meal in one of the many restaurants and watch the old water taxis or abras cruise by or browse through the maze of shops to find that perfect souvenir. Get a nice view of the Burj Al Arab, especially at night. There are:
* 75 boutique shops
* 23 waterfront cafes, bars and restaurants
* Open plazas
* Air conditioned walkways
* 442 seat Madinat Theatre
Complete with artificial Venician canals & fake cobble stones, I must admit: even though it's pretentious beyond all belief - at least the Souk Madinat is a nice area to sit outside & enjoy the sunshine
This is basically the "up-market Version" of the original Dubai souks. It's like some foreign architect got his hands on the ancient bazaar-concept & forced it go undergo plastic surgery = it's pretty, but it's simply not the "real thing". The Madinat has become extremely popular with Dubai's "ladies that lunch" as well as party animals that enjoy the various bars & clubs.
To reach various restaurants along the artificial waterway, the hotel offers complimentary boat rides on "Abras" (traditional water taxi). I much prefer the "real thing" on Dubai Creek, click here if you're interested: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/14d9ee.
For the *least* amount of "Disneyland-feeling" I recommend visiting Souk Madinat after the sun has set: this is when the lights come on, the shadows & reflections distort from what is merely a copy of true Arabian heritage, and the whole architectural brilliance of the area is no longer merely bearable; its mystic beauty really shines under the camouflage of night.
Paths lead visitors through a bazaar-like atmosphere with 75 open fronted shops.
TOURIST TRAP WARNING: You'll see plenty of souvenirs, pashmina shawls, posters & drawings, etc. for sale here. DON'T BUY! You can buy the exact same things for about 40% of the price in the Gold & Spice Souk, Textile Souk or Karama Shopping Strip. The ONLY shop that I would recommend for purchases is "Gallery One", a store selling regional art and beautiful black&white photographs of Dubai.
This place is wonderful for taking memorable photographs & having a meal, but not for shopping.
Some of the restaurants are licensed (= serve alcoholic beverages) and some are not. For a full list of the various eateries & all the stores, click here.
I have also reviewed some of the resort's eateries in my "Restaurant Tips".
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 10:00am - 11:00pm
(On their website, click the top left for the English version)
When visiting or moving to Dubai with children, the choices to keep them interested, busy and happy can be quite limited. We all know that kids aren't that interested in visiting Souks or Museums, and Desert Safaris can be too strenuous or dangerous for smaller children. When my nieces from the UK visited us in April 2003, we visited Children's City for the first time and were extremely pleasantly surprised.
Children's City is a big hit with both Local and International youngsters. Children's City is the first educational city in the UAE devoted to children between 2 - 15 years old where they can investigate, explore, play, discover, and learn about the world in which we live. Children's City was opened in March 5th 2002.
Nowadays, various events such as the Dubai Cat Show, educational days and various fund raisers take place at Children's City as well.
The 7700 square metre (82,882sq-ft) fun park takes the children on a journey through the human body, science and space with the help of different "zones". There are plenty of hands-on-action that promote learning whilst playing, to keep even the most demanding children occupied. All the exhibits are in English and Arabic.
The unique 3-storey complex is located in the green surroundings of the large Dubai Creek Park and offers various admission schemes for individual children, families and school groups.
This is a great way to keep your kids occupied for a day, especially during the extremely hot summer months when it's necessary to stay indoors!
Opening Hours (for year 2009): Open 7 days a week.
Sat-Thu 09:00am - 08:30pm / Fridays 03:00pm - 08:30pm.
During Ramadan: everyday from 09:00am-04:00pm, except Friday from 03:00pm-06:30pm.
Entrance Fees (for year 2009):
Children 2yrs - 15yrs: 10 Dirhams.
Adults (16 yrs +): 15 Dirhams.
Family (2 adults + 2 children): 40 Dirhams.
(1 US$ = 3.67 Dirhams.)
It's worth coming here only if you know how to bargain and if you have pacience about guys asking you to check their stores.
It's an amazing place for pictures, for movement and for cheap merchandise.
There are 3 main Souqs: Spices, Textile and Gold
You can walk from the Spices to the Gold Souq but you need to take an Abbra (=little ferry) to the other side of the creek to go to the textile souq. Besides the specific souqs there shops selling pirate DVDs and everything else that you can imagine.
Before you go to the spices souq it's good to go to the supermarket and check how much a packet of pistachio, cinammon, curry is so you know how much you can bargain it down at the little shops. This is my favourite souq! It has lava stones for rough feet, it has traditional arabic incense, dry roses, crandberries, limes...almonds...its amazing to walk here and smell all the special spices!
After spending 2.5 weeks in Morocco, I was done with souks. But staying in Deira meant close proximity to both The Spice Souk and the Gold Souk and so....I might as well! The walking would do me some good anyway!
Frankly, if you are visiting Dubai for the first time, experiencing the romance of the souks can actually be quite fun!
Deira is the "old area" of Dubai as it lies very close to the mouth of the Dubai Creek. Souks thus sprung out around the Creek mouth, taking advantage of its location. Some of these souks go way back so history is rich.
The Gold Souk is so named as the entirely covered street is devoted to all things glittery! If you are into jewelry and loves spending money, this is one orgasmic heaven you wouldn't want to miss.
The Spice Souk is just a couple of streets away. Befittingly so, since spice was once as expensive as gold. I came here, sniffing for Sumac ("Arabian paprika") and Zaatar ("Arabian thyme"), 2 spices commonly used in Arabian cooking. Sections of the souk are covered as well, and you wouldn't really miss the place since the aroma of spices permeate the air as soon as you wander close. You would soon be persuaded to enter the shops, and offers of saffron, cardamon, pepper, mryhh etc would soon come your way to entice you to part money.