There is no lack of souks and street markets in and around Dubai which are well known for their eccentric range of shops, bustling environment, and authentic Arabic culture. Listed here are the best street markets and souks from Dubai to Abu Dhabi where you can buy carpets, gold and finest spices in the world.
Camel Souk, Al Ain
In Al Ain, the Camel Souk is one of the best tourist attractions in UAE as it offers a different sight to its local customs. Al Ain is well known as the garden city among the locals in the Abu Dhabi emirate, because of its lush greens. It is an ideal spot for you to explore more and get more detail into the traditional culture of an Arabic country. The souk can be hard to access. You need to take a taxi which takes around an hour from the city center.
As the name suggests, camels are auctioned in this souk where they are brought in through Lorries and lined up. If you want to immerse in the Emirati culture, it is really a great experience in itself and bidding can be heated here. Keep in mind that some locals sell tours but you can still explore the market on your own by wandering around. Be sure to arrive in the early morning to beat the heat on midday.
Carpet Souk, Abu Dhabi
The Carpet Souk in Abu Dhabi is the best destination to source carpets from different parts of the Middle East. You can choose from Persian and Afghani carpets to more local materials and patterns in over 100 stores. It is one of the best spots for authentic and original goods.
You can find the traditionally hand-crafted Persian carpets at a hefty price. But there are also some machine-made yet authentic imitations at reasonable prices. There is a range of vibrant patterns, colors, and materials which will definitely dazzle the buyers. Along with carpets, you can also choose from a range of upholstery and textile shops and a lot of prayer rugs. The souk is also known for its handmade and traditional Arabic Majlis cushions along with carpets.
Gold Souk, Dubai
Gold Souk is the internationally renowned market and the crowning jewel of Dubai. It is located near the well-known creek of Dubai, which is crossed in Abra, a locally known water taxi. There is no lack of stalls across the river which emanates the glow from the windows of the golden shop which is filled with the brim of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, and brooches. The souk is well monitored by the government to maintain its rich standards and ensure souks selling genuine gold jewelry here. The souk is well known as the ideal place to source quality gold and the price of jewelry can be virtually halved through bargaining. The best time to get there is in the evening as stalls remain open till 10 pm.
Fabric Souk, Dubai
On the banks of Dubai Creek, Fabric souk stands opposite to Spice Souk (on the Deira Creek in the old trading hub of Bur Dubai). The fabric stalls are full of a lot of patterned and vivid fabrics with some of the hand-woven pashminas, as one of the bestselling products. Along with traditional Arabic clothing, you can also buy some of the beautiful, authentic and affordable attire made by some of the highly skilled tailors in the city. In the souk, the drapers sell cotton and silks off the roll that comes directly from the yard. The souk has a traditional restored market. It makes a great experience with wooden roof, even on the hottest summer days.
Spice Souk, Dubai
The Spice Souk in Dubai is strategically positioned in Al Ras, near the Persian Gulf. It has been filled with delicious and freshest spices from different parts of the Middle East over the centuries. You can easily identify the spice stalls here not just by fragrance, but also by the jute sacks filled with the brim of vivid leaves and powders. There are lots of spices available, i.e. from Persian bay and oregano to Indochinese curry leaves and Kaffir lime.
Along with ingredients needed for Emirati recipes, you can also choose from different items offered by the street vendors from shisha and coffee to frankincense and incense, or the Arabic perfume named ‘Oudh’ made of the Agarwood tree bark. The souk still serves the workers and sailors of dhow from Old Dubai. Prices are easy to negotiate and you can easily find good deals here.
Souk Madinat, Jumeirah, Dubai
The Souk Madinat is located in one of the coastal regions of Dubai and also houses 75 boutique outlets and shops and also belongs to the Madinat Jumeirah, a modern reincarnation of age-old Arabian town. There are two hotels in the complex and around 50 restaurants and bars.
The restaurants are interlinked with the soak through artificial waterways where visitors can explore through traditional boats or water taxi ‘Abra’. These are similar to the ones seen on the creek. You can witness the authentic looks of the buildings with wind towers. Visitors can immerse in the Arabian culture with its Moorish architecture. When the site is lit up, it looks really amazing at night. You can soak in the views from al fresco restaurants in soothing evenings.
Masafi Market, Fujairah
Masafi Market is well positioned on the edge of the Hajar Mountains between Dubai and Fujairah. The area is a kind of an oasis, well known for its wadis and freshwater springs, as well as the huge Friday market offering a range of goods. It was basically a souk for the residents of the region.
Now it serves tourists going through the Emirates. You can buy products ranging from fruits, vegetables, and gardening plants to candy floss, toys, pottery, and woolen carpets, made with ancient designs and techniques. Your visit to the market wouldn’t complete without buying corn on the cob. Corns are fulfilling and affordable here as they are roasted over the dazzling fire and are served with salt and lemon.