Shopping in Dubai

If shopping is your vice, Dubai should be on your ‘to visit’ list. In this shopper’s paradise you can literally shop until you drop! I am not overly fond of shopping and shopping malls can easily make me feel claustrophobic, so Michael was quite amused when I requested a shopping trip to Dubai. I wanted to check out two markets that I read about. As they are limited to the first Friday of every month I only have a small window of opportunity, and my wish was only granted after horrible weather conditions were predicted for Friday and his fishing trip was scrapped.

Our first mission was to find the Farmer’s Market which is held on the terrace of Al Bahar Souq. In order to successfully complete this mission we had to drive straight into what Michael calls “the belly of the beast”!   It was only when I realised that the GPS was taking us straight to Dubai Mall, that I got cold feet and tried to wiggle myself out of it. Dubai Mall is one of the many superlatives in Dubai. A monstrosity with 1,200 outlets, it is poised to swallow you up and spit you out exhausted and bankrupt. Only once did I venture into it, and only to get to the restaurant terrace from where we could experience the musical fountains. It was an experience that cured me for good from any further visits, and I could feel a cold sweat breaking out all over my body as we approached it. Michael cleverly side-stepped the lanes that, like magnets, pull cars into dark, confusing parking spaces under what is considered shopping heaven by many. I was much relieved and grateful when we easily found parking at the neighbouring Al Bahar Souq. The atmosphere in this shopping space is almost soothing despite the many tourists waddling behind their tour guides in tight groups.

The Farmer’s Market was even smaller than I imagined, but it does offer organic produce both fresh and dried and I discovered a tasty walnut bread that may lure me back here in the future. After a cup of coffee and a stroll through the souq, we were ready for our next market.

Organised by Artisans of the Emirates (ARTE) it is held in Festival Centre, where  the Ikea store is located, on the first Friday of the month, and in Times Square Centre every second Friday of the month. Here we discovered artists selling their wares that ranged from jewelry to clothing, to art and photography. As I dragged Michael to Dubai for some shopping, he was highly disgusted with me that I wasn’t buying anything. At his insistence he bought me a lovely light jacket that is ideal for covering up in summer, as well as some bracelets, and later at a bookshop a Thesaurus and Middle Eastern recipe book.

I even got myself a beautiful henna tatoo, and even though we chattered away about husbands and what we would like them to do at home, the artist’s smooth movements never stopped or hesitated for a moment.  We also couldn’t resist buying a natural papaya-flavoured handmade soap from a very passionate chemical engineer who got disillusioned by all the chemicals she used to work with, and now spends her time creating and crafting a range of natural soaps that is expanding by the day. She enthusiastically also told us about a new shaving soap she is working on that is already being tested by her two guinea pigs, namely her husband and son, who are encouraging her passion with their presence and flattering words.

On our way home we laughed at the irony in Michael’s insisting words: “You dragged me to Dubai for some shopping, so now you WILL shop!” How many husbands will insist on their wifes spending money? I guess I’m lucky!

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