Outside view of the old souks in Deira Dubai

Seeking Out the Best Dubai Souks – Traditional & Modern Shopping in Dubai

by Dubai Travel Planner

Stepping into the souks of Dubai takes you on a colourful and aromatic experience, as you wander the streets discovering the heritage of Arabian shopping culture.

With every turn you take you will be seeking out incredible finds and local treasures. Just don’t forget to bring your haggling skills with you to get the best bargains.

Dubai Souks

Souk, or also spelled as souq, is an Arabic word which means ‘Market’. Traditionally seen in Arab countries, these noisy open-air outdoor markets are very different to other street markets you may have seen elsewhere.

Typically, the stall vendors line up on either side of narrow streets, in their square shops, clustered together depending on the type of goods being sold. At these endless maze of alleys, you will find yourself walking past vendors selling treasures such as fragrant teas and exotic spices from the over filled baskets, while other vendors enticing you to have a look at their fine silks and exotic tapestries.

Dubai Souks - collage of images from the various traditional souks in Dubai

The history of Dubai’s trading culture

Being a port city, Dubai has been part of the trading route for goods travelling between Africa and India for many centuries. Goods arriving varied from exotic spices, to hand-woven fabrics and organic produce, and made their way to the souks of Dubai.

One of the oldest souks in Dubai, is Deira’s souk originally established around 1850, one which continues to be popular even today due to its close proximity to the harbour on creek.

Dubai’s modern shopping culture

Dubai is a shopping haven for all, no matter your budget. If you look carefully, behind the many ultra-modern malls with international fashion brands and light studded sky scrapers, you will find traditional souks, dotted among bustling neighbourhoods, selling almost everything from precious stones to fragrant perfumes. It’s where you will get a range of items at affordable prices and cheap bargains, which can be lowered even more depending on your haggling skills.

The different traditional souks in Dubai

The souks in Dubai continue to be an important place for daily life and trade for many people. The city has many souks across the different neighbourhoods, some a few hundred years old, while others brand new with the aesthetics of a traditional souk. Here are the top traditional souks you must visit when in Dubai:

Deira Gold Souk

Dubai’s Deira Gold Souk is a shopper’s paradise when it comes to buying gold, other precious metals and gem stones. Home to over 300 gold shops, Deira Gold Souk has been a business hub for jewellers for decades, and showcases jewellery in a wide variety of designs and at unbeatable prices.

Deira Gold Souk boasts many gold outlets, and even some popular names such as Damas, Joyalukkas and Malabar Gold. The exquisite craftsmanship of jewellers and the stunning pieces of jewellery on display will leave you mesmerised, ensuring you will find something that suits your style and budget.

And just in case you are worried about whether the gold sold here is genuine, the Government of UAE regulates all products sold at the stores in the Gold Souk in Deira, guaranteeing authenticity and purity of gold. 

Location: Al Ras, Deira, next to Dubai Fish and Vegetable Market.

Timings: From 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. On Fridays the souk opens at 4:00 pm.

How to get there:

By Car: It is important to note that public parking can be difficult to find, specially during peak hours and weekends. Using public transport such as the Dubai Metro, RTA buses or taxi is recommended.

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By Metro: Take the Green line to Al Ras Station, which is a 10 minute walk to Deira Gold Souk. Another nearby metro station is the Baniyas Square Station.

By Bus: Buses C07, C09 and C28 stop in the nearby area.

Dubai Spice Souk

Dubai’s Spice Souk is an iconic shopping destination for tourists and locals alike. This marketplace is one of the oldest commercial and cultural hubs in Dubai, and walking through it transports you back in time.

A must on every tourist’s wish list, the Spice souk is well known for its narrow alleyways lined with earth-toned shops selling aromatic spices, dates, dry fruits and other sweet treats from countries such as India, Turkey and Iran. It’s here where you can also buy premium quality saffron, the most expensive spice, and sample other herbs and teas before you choose to buy.

The Spice Souk promises to take tourists on an aromatic experience, and also a colourful one that you will love to photograph.

Location: In the neighbourhood of Deira, near Baniyas Road and Old Baladiyah Road Junction.

Timings: From 07:30 am to 09:30 pm, however on Fridays the souk opens after 4:00 pm.

How to get there:

By car: RTA parking is available if you wish to travel by car, however, parking spaces are limited and can be hard to find. Travelling by taxi is an easier option.

By Abra: Cross the creek by taking an Abra ride from Dubai Creek to the Deira Old Souk Abra Station.

By Metro: Take the Green Line to the Al Ras Metro Station. 

By Bus: Buses C07, C09 or the C28 stop at the Deira Old Souq 1 RTA Bus Station

Spices from the Dubai spice souk

Dubai Perfume Souk

The perfume souk is where you will soak up exciting aromas and scents, and even have the opportunity to create a personalised perfume that suits you. Here you will find everything scented, from perfumes to essential oils, incense sticks and traditional oud (agar wood) .

Overwhelmed with choices, the shopkeepers who are experts in their field of perfumery, will help you select the right perfume out of the thousand sweet fragrances.  Be sure to haggle the right amount and you may be walking out with more than a few perfume bottles.

Location: East of Dubai Gold Souk, on Sikkat Al Khail Road

Timings: From 07:30 am to 09:30 pm, however on Fridays the souk opens after 4:00pm.

How to get there:

By car: RTA parking is available if you wish to travel by car, however parking spaces are limited and can be hard to find. Travelling by taxi is an easier option.

By Metro: Take the Green Line to Al Ras Station, and then walk to Sikkat Al Khalil Road

By bus: Buses C07, C09 and C28 stop in the nearby area.

Dubai Textile Souk

The Dubai Textile Souk, sits on the banks of Bur Dubai, across the Dubai Creek.  It’s a place that will leave you dazzled with colourful textiles and beautiful prints everywhere you look. You will get here the finest silk, sari fabrics, cashmeres and even hand-woven fabrics.

Apart from the rolls of colourful fabrics, you will also find here traditional garments such as the abaya and kandura, and other accessories such as buttons, sequins and laces.

Location: Across Dubai Creek from the other traditional souks, in the Al Fahidi District.

Timings: From 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

How to get there:

By car: RTA parking is available if you wish to travel by car, however parking spaces are limited and can be hard to find. Travelling by taxi is an easier option.

By Abra: The local Abra boats can cross the creek, by taking one to the Dubai Old Souk Marine Transport Station.

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By Metro: Take the Green Line to the Al Ghubaiba or the Al Fahidi Metro Station. 

By Bus: Bus F70 will stop at the nearest bust stop.

textiles for sale at a dubai textile souk stall

Other Traditional Souks in Dubai

Neighbourhoods in the olden parts of Dubai continue to have traditional souks which have been there for decades now. These include Al Karama, Naif Souk and Meena Bazaar. All of them are famous for selling souvenirs, leather, watches, jewellery, handbags, and textiles.

At Meena Bazaar you can even see a lot of shops from Indian community, selling Indian clothes and jewellery, and serving Indian food, giving you the feeling of being transported to streets of India.

How to Tour Dubai’s Old Souks

If you are short on time or not entirely confident in travelling around the older areas of Dubai by yourself, a great way to experience the souks and make the most of your time in Deira is to see them as part of an organised tour group. There are several tours that incoroporate the Gold & Spice souks as part of your sightseeing itinerary in Dubai:

Modern Souks in Dubai

In contrast, there are several souks in Dubai that are much newer, but been built in the traditional architectural style common to the region.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

This indoor air-conditioned souk delivers everything you would expect from a traditional souk, but with an added touch of luxury. Similar to the old bazaars, the alleys are narrow and lined with shops selling everything from spices to ornate ceramic and exquisite fabrics.

There’s even more to explore from the outside, as you sip coffee overlooking the iconic Burj Al Arab, and catch an Abra ride along the palm-fringed waterways.

You can find our complete guide to Souk Madinat Jumeirah here

The abras and restauraunts at Souk Mainat Jumeirah

Location: Part of Madinat Jumeirah resort complex, Jumeriah

Timings: Daily from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm.

How to get there:

By car: Head towards Jumeirah. Take the King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street, in the Al Sufouh 1 district and follow signs to Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Underground parking is available for visitors. Alternatively, you can arrive by taking the taxi.

By Metro: The nearest Metro station would be Mall of Emirates. From here, it’s a 10 minute taxi ride to Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

By bus: Bus 8, 81, F55A or X28 stop a 10-minute walk away form Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

Souk Al Bahar

Souk Al Bahar translates to ‘Sailor’s Market’, and sits along the waters of Burj Lake in Downtown Dubai. It is a lively market place with all the charm of old Arabia, while providing residents and tourists a shopping and dining experience like no other.

Wander between the tall archways and ornate ceiling lanterns as you explore alleyways lined with shops selling intricate handicrafts, jewellery, Arabian fashion, art and so much more. And when you feel like you need to dine, find a good spot overlooking the magnificent Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountains.

Location: Downtown Dubai, next to Dubai Mall.

Timings: Daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

How to get there:

By car: Souk Al Bahar is easily accessible by car with ample parking spaces. Parking is free for the first two hours, and upto 4 hours for restaurant guests when validated. You can arrive by taking the taxi too.

By metro: Take the red line to the Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station, and then board the Feeder Bus to Souk Al Bahar.

By bus: Bus 27 runs between Deira Gold Souk and The Dubai Mall, from where you can to walk across The Dubai Mall to reach Souk Al Bahar.

Souk al Bahar

Other Modern Souks in Dubai

Other contemporary souks include The Souk at Dubai Mall, Khan Murjan at Wafi Mall and Ripe Market that run at various different locations in Dubai.

Tips for shopping at Dubai Souks 

Here are some tips you should keep in mind before you begin your shopping at the souks:

  1. Be prepared to haggle. For most items, you will be able to get an even better deal if you try and negotiate starting from half the price mentioned – not this only works in the souks! Don’t attempt to haggle in shopping malls.
  2. When buying gold, go online and check the daily international market rate for gold. Dubai gold shop retailers will sell you their gold jewellery depending on the daily gold rate that is known to fluctuate daily. Purchasing at a time when the gold prices are lower, will ensure you get a good deal. For an even better deal haggle to lower the jeweller’s making charges.
  3. Always carry cash. Not all shops at the traditional souks accept cards, especially if not purchasing a large amount of goods.
  4. Take your time and explore the nooks and corners of all streets. Sometimes you can get a better deal just because of where the shop is located.
  5. Be sure to keep invoices of your large purchases such as gold, and look out for sellers that participate in the Planet tax refund scheme so you can claim back the VAT as a tourist at the Dubai International Airport.          
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Frequently asked questions about souks in Dubai

Are there souks in Dubai?

Yes, Dubai is home to may traditional and modern souks, with some going back a few hundred years.

How do I get to Old souk Dubai?

Located in Bur Dubai along the southern side of the creek, you can easily reach Old Souk Dubai by taking a short walk from the Al Fahidi Metro Station or Al Ghubaiba Metro Station. Alternatively, you can take the Abra from Deira to reach the souk, costing you as little as AED1.

What is a souk?

Souk or souq are large open-aired markets with narrow streets lined up with shops on either sides. Vendors here sell everything from local produce, spices to textiles and more.

Is shopping in Dubai expensive?

It depends on what you are shopping for and where. Shopping for international brands will not be any cheaper than when shopping at any other city. However, there are traditional souks and markets in Old Dubai where you can get items for much cheaper prices.

Where is the Gold souk in Dubai?

It is located in Al Ras Deira, and easily accessible by getting down at Al Ras Metro Station.

Is Dubai cheap for gold?

Buying gold is considerably cheaper in Dubai compared to other countries in the world, due to exclusion of taxes.

When does Dubai Old Souk open?

It opens daily 10:00 am to 10:00pm, except on Fridays when it opens at 4:00 pm.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

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