We've picked 10 of the best, most beautiful souks in Dubai you need to explore and shop in
7 January 2013| Last updated on 18 July 2019
Experience a truly authentic Arabian journey through a traditional Dubai souk.
'Souk' or 'souq' is the Arabic word, which stands for the market or place where any kind of goods are brought or exchanged.
Originally, boats or dhows from the neighboring countries as well as India, Ceylon, China, and the Far East unloaded their wares at the souks. Traders from around the world brought with them a variety of merchandise and "haggled" over the sales and purchases.
In modern times or today, souks are still markets but they are just a shadow of their former wonder. Dubai has a number of souks scattered all over the city. Dubai souqs are bright, colorful, noisy and fascinating like any other market place.
To help you explore, here's our complete guide to the best souks in Dubai to visit.
1) The Gold Souk
A world-famous Gold Souk is Dubai's Gold Souk, where narrow streets are lined with shop windows glinting with ornaments made in 22 and 24-carat gold. Along the slightly larger lanes of the gold souk, each shop window is crammed with gold necklaces, rings, bangles, earrings, and brooches. On display in one of the shops is the World's Largest Gold Ring, certificated from the Guinness Book of World Records.
Designs can be traditional or modern, bold or conservative, loud or sober, sturdy or delicate. Along with designs, you will find many different shades of gold like pink, white, yellow or green hues in one piece. Dubai Gold Souk is worth a visit even if you have no intention of buying. It would be hard to resist the temptation to buy them.
Haggling about the price is like a tradition. Take your time and plan 2 to 3 hours for your visit. The best time is the late afternoon. Usually, the shops are open until 9:30pm to 10:00 pm. The initial unsureness in bargaining gets lost pretty quickly, and you will really enjoy "haggling" about your favourite piece.
Gold Souk is located near Dubai Creek in Al Ras area of Deira. You can reach it with public buses, metro, taxi or water taxi (from Bur Dubai). We don't recommend to go by car as the area is very crowded and to find parking could be difficult.
2) Spice Souk
- Location: Click here
- Directions: Click here
- Timings: 10am - 10pm Saturday to Thursday, 4pm - 10pm on Friday
The Dubai spice souk is located just next to the gold souk. The colorful array of spices and their heady aroma is tantalizing. You cannot get over the incredible number of spices that are available.
Here you will find spices of all varieties: cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, chilli, curry, cloves and lots more. And that’s not all; you will also find basmati rice, dates, dry fruits, and nuts of endless varieties, different sorts of tea, shisha and tobacco, seductive perfumes, pottery as well as baskets. As you move on from one shop to another, you will be enveloped by these sensory delights. The spices are brought from the Middle Eastern region as well as from around other parts of the world.
3) Perfume Souk
The Perfume Souk is the name given to the collection of perfume shops on Sikkat Al Khail Road, Deira, just east of the Gold Souk.
Thousands of different sweet fragrances will invite you in Perfume Souk of Dubai. Here you will find yourself helpless while deciding which fragrance to buy. If you will find it difficult, smart and hasty shopkeepers will definitely help you out in selecting one. Aromas here range from traditional Arabic Ittars to latest perfumes all under the same roof. Perfumes are also available in shopping malls but perfume souk is the best place to choose among a wide variety.
In addition to perfumes, you can also buy incense at the Dubai perfume souk. They are sold in the form of sticks, powder, crystal, rock and wood. Arabian perfumes are oil-based and they tend to leave a stain when sprayed on clothes. So be careful and make sure you don’t do so. The perfumes are well priced and you can buy several bottles if you know how to haggle.
Frankincense is the most popular incense and is available in every store at the Dubai perfume souk. Breathe in the aromatic creations and imbibe within you their cultural significances.
4) Old Souk/Textile Souk
The Old Souk/Textile Souk lies over the Creek in Bur Dubai. The bazaar consists of a long line of restored sand-coloured stone buildings, covered by a wooden roof in one area, and topped with attractive wind towers. The multitude of small shops here offers a massive range of fabrics (cashmere, silk, cotton, wool, etc.) plus garments, slippers, souvenirs, and other goods.
The Textile Souk can be reached from Deira (Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Perfume Souk) by crossing the water on an abra or water taxi. Abra (traditional wooden boat) will cost only 1 dirham, is quick and the experience is fantastic. Alternatively, travel by Metro on the Green Line and alight at Al Ghubaiba Metro Station or Al Fahidi Metro Station. The Bastakia Quarter and Dubai Museum are nearby and well worth a visit while in the area. It is also known as Cosmo Souk... just to make things more complicated.
5) Meena Bazaar
Dubai is famous for its great intercultural community living together in peace. After the Arabic locals, Indian minority is the biggest in Dubai and Indians have always played the most important role in the business life of Dubai. Therefore Dubai has several Indian areas.
Meena Bazaar is a great marketplace, a hub for Indian people where they can get just anything coming from their homeland. The most important goods include traditional Indian jewelry and wedding jewellery, watches, Indian textiles, Indian furniture, and accessories or Indian spices. Of course, these are only some of the dozens of goods that are sold in Meena Bazaar, which, together with its area will really make you feel as if you were in India.
You can also get to see two Hindu temples in the Meena area: one is dedicated to Shiva and the other to Krishna Gods. Meena Bazaar is located in Bur Dubai, next to Al Bastakiya area.
6) The Friday Market
You have to go a little bit further afield for this one but the drive is lovely- the Friday Market is held in Masafi- yes where the water comes from- and it is located on the East Coast Road between Dhaid and Masafi. Historically it was a Friday market for traders in the less inhabited regions but the roadside market has now become a favourite stopping place for tourists and is on all week now not just Fridays :)
It is a row of stalls on either side of the road that sells all sorts of things from carpets to pottery, fruit and veg, carpets and rugs, inflatable toys (!! we bought one) and household pots and pans. A trip there is more for the experience really and you may pick up some plants and pots as they are miles cheaper than in Dubai and some fresh bananas from Salalah.
There are little touristy shops too- try an egg paratha from one of the little takeaway places! To get there from Dubai head up the Emirates Road Sharjah direction and once past Sharjah lookout for a sign saying East Coast region... if you end up in RAK you've gone too far! (Yes we did that too!)
7) Fruit and Vegetable Souk
The fruit and vegetable market is based in Ras Al Khor off the Emirates Road and is well signposted so you can't miss it. Here you will find stalls with all fresh produce mainly sold in bulk but you can buy smaller quantities too.
There are some great savings to be had compared to prices in the supermarkets and a wide range of choice. The market has been refurbished and most stalls are now under shaded areas. You can hire men with trolleys who will help you carry your wares around the market until you have finished shopping and help you to your car. Definitely worth a visit and purse-friendly too!
8) Naif Souk
Naif Souk is located in the old Deira district of Dubai. This souk is amongst the oldest souks of Dubai and in days gone by it served camel sellers as a camel market and from that, it has developed into a full-fledged marketplace.
Today, the rebuilt Naif Souk awaits its visitors with more than a hundred shops and air-conditioned climate. The souk is famous for its souvenirs, leather, watches, jewellery, handbags, and textiles.
8) Al Karama
Love it or hate Karama is one of Dubai's most popular souk areas- largely due to its "real fakes" available- here you will find everything from bags, shoes, DVDs, watches, jewellery and everything in between! It has recently had a facelift and there are many more shops selling tourist items and souvenirs and at a fraction of the cost in the malls so it really is a great place for gift shopping and to take your tourist friends too.
Prepare to be jumped upon by sellers and also prepare to haggle! Tell them you are a resident to get the best prices. It is not what you would expect a market to look like as it is a warren of alleyways with proper indoor small shops. Make sure you keep an eye on your bearings it's easy to get disorientated- it is open all day and till late in the evening although a few shops close in the afternoon during the week. This is a definite trip to make sure you have lots of water with you, flat shoes and a tight grip on your purse- you will want to splurge!
10) Modern Souks
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Souk Al Bahar (in Downtown Dubai) and Khan Murjan (in Dubai Wafi City), are a few of the more modern Dubai Souks. These souks are vibrant and a mixture of then and now. These places encourage the works of local artisans and bring back the magic of the Middle East.
... and there's always roadside stalls!
As you explore and drive around the Emirates you will no doubt see little stalls scattered throughout the Northern Emirates by the side of the road selling carpets, fresh produce, charcoal, firewood, pottery, household goods, melons, candy floss, and inflatable toys!
Most provide excellent value for money and their produce is normally fresh and good quality. Most are worth a look and offer visitors and tourists a friendly experience - give them a try!