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Dubai Old Souks: The ultimate guide

Here is your full guide to the main Dubai souks that you need to have on your Dubai tourist checklist

12:15 September 13, 2017
Spice

If you're looking for a taste of old Dubai, your best bet would be to visit the souks, which have been around for many years.

Here is everything you need to know about the souks of old Dubai. 

Dubai Gold Souk

What is the Gold Souk?

 

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The Dubai Gold Souk is a traditional market in the heart of old Dubai by the creek. This market mainly sells gold, silver and precious stones. You’ll find the odd seller of handbags here and there, but this is the best place to buy gold in the UAE. The souk is home to over 300 retailers. Some have been there for over 40 years, while others have just set up shops a couple of years ago.


Location

Al Ras Deira. The souk is adjacent to the Dubai Fish and Vegetable Market and the Deira Corniche near Baniyas Square at Sikkat al-Khali Street.


Closest metro station

Metro's green line

Al Ras Station (5 minute walk away)

Tip: It is highly recommended to take the metro or a taxi.Do not take your own car and try to park it somewhere nearby. A parking spot near the Gold Souk is rare to find.


Timings

10am to 10pm

Some stores are closed between 1pm to 4pm.

Tip: Best time to visit is mid-morning around 11am. It is still quite crowded, but less intense than in the evenings. 


Why should you visit the Gold Souk?

The prices you will get at the Gold Souk are some of the most competitive in the world. What you will pay for your purchases depends on the daily gold rate, which tends to fluctuate.

Tip: Check out the daily gold rate here before heading down

Most places charge per gram and others per karat. If you want to get a great deal on jewellery, you’ll have a better chance of finding it here, than in any mall jewellery store. The Gold Souk needs to be seen at least once by everyone who is visiting or lives in Dubai. It has been around for almost 100 years, and is the most bustling of the old souks. Merchants in the souk today tell us stories about how they were born and raised here, taking over from their fathers. There's something in every nook and cranny for everyone.

Interesting fact: The Gold Souk is home to the worlds’ heaviest ring, the Najmat Taiba or Star of Taiba. This gigantic ring is just 314g shy of 57 kg in weight, and is studded with 5.17 kg of Swarovski stones. Endorsed by the World Gold Council, the ring made by Taiba Gold and Jewellery of Saudi Arabia also has a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records certifying its ‘weight in gold’. It is worth approximately Dh2.2million.  

XNE_150929 Taiba Gold Ring for display.JPG

Tip: Stay out of the larger more main stream jewellery shops and look for the smaller ones in corners or little alleyways, you'll most likely get the best deals there.

Tip: To get the most traditional Arab style jewellery, head down to the Al Romaizan Gold and Jewellery. It’s difficult to miss, since it hosts the famous display of a body suit made of gold.

Tip: Make sure you also bargain and haggle with the shop owners to get the best possible deal.

 

Dubai Perfume Souk

The Deira Perfume Souk is full of beautiful bottles and potions of scents


What is the Perfume Souk?

 

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It is not similar to the other souks like the Gold, Textile or Spice souk. The Deira Perfume Souk is makes up a couple of streets lined with perfume stores that sell oils, fragrances and sandal wood. Having any perfumes in the heat damages them, so they are all kept inside the shops in a cool and dry weather condition. You won’t find much bustle there, but is definitely a place worth a visit


Location

Al Ras Deira. The souk is adjacent to the Dubai Gold Souk and is situated on Sikkat Al Khail Street.


Closest metro station

Al Ras Station (8 minute walk away)

Tip: It is highly recommended to take the metro or a taxi. Do not take your own car and try to park it somewhere nearby. A parking spot near the Perfume Souk is difficult and expensive.


Timings

On Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 2pm then from 4pm to 10pm, Friday from 4pm to 10pm.

Tip: Best time to visit is mid-morning between 11am and 1pm. It isn’t too crowded, since the perfume souk is the less hectic out of the souks.


Why should you visit the Perfume Souk?

Arabic scents are usually very difficult to find outside of the Middle East. The perfume souk is the ideal location for a vast range of Arabic oud perfumes and oils. If Arabic scents aren’t your thing, then you can find similar variations of familiar scents that you buy at home. You could even bring your own perfumes along, and ask the perfumer to re-create it for you. The people working there are experts on mixing different oils and scents in order to custom make a special blend of perfumes for you.

Interesting fact: The most common item sold in the perfume souk is actually not perfume; it is the sandal wood. A piece of light coloured wood carved out of trees and transported to the UAE to be sold mainly to Emiratis, who particularly love the scent.

Tip: Make sure you buy their old fashioned perfume bottles, which are a beautiful representation of the old arabesque style.

Tip: Make sure you also bargain and haggle with the shop owners to get the best possible deal. 

 

Dubai Spice Souk

The Deira spice souk is full of aromatic alleyways selling herbs, spices and precious salts 


What is the Spice Souk?

NAT 170112 Spice Souk-9

The Dubai Spice Souk is a delight to the senses. It’s a traditional market in the heart of old Dubai near the famed Gold Souk. This market mainly sells herbs, spices, soaps and much more. The souk is home to over 150 small retailers.


Location

Al Ras Deira. The souk is adjacent to the Dubai Gold Souk and is situated on Baniyas Street.


Closest metro station

Al Ras Station (6 minute walk away)

Tip: It is highly recommended to take the metro or a taxi. Do not take your own car and try to park it somewhere nearby. A parking spot near the Spice Souk is very rare to find.


Timings

On Saturday to Thursday from 10am to10pm and Friday from 4pm to 10pm.

Some stores are closed between 1pm to 4pm.

Tip: Best time to visit is mid-morning around 11am. It is still quite crowded, but less intense than in the evenings. You will also find many tourist groups walking through the souk around this time.


Why should you visit the Spice Souk?

Various spices on display for sale

Another of Dubai’s oldest souks, this one you’ll smell before you see. The entrance of the spice souk has an old school hut-like roof and is actually within the Grand Souk Deira, don’t let the signage fool you. Walk into the area that says Grand Souk and walk straight through in order to get to the spice section. It is made up of small alleyways filled with shops that have bags filled to the brim with spices all over their front entrance.

A visit to the spice souk is a great opportunity to see herbs, spices and salts in their raw and natural form. The people working there, will try and educate you on the origins and history of the spices, so make sure you listen with an open mind. Most sellers have been trading spices in the souk for over 20 years, so their experience shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt.

Spice Souk

Interesting fact: The souk is home to some of the most expensive types of Saffron in the world, sourced directly from Afghanistan and Iran, where 1kg could sell for up to Dh10,000. They also sell precious amber, which apparently is a potent healer.

Tip: Don’t buy anything packaged. It is cheaper to buy your items directly from the bags and barrels.

Tourists in Dubai's spice souk

Tip: Make sure you also bargain and haggle with the shop owners to get the best possible deal.