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Dubai Souqs

Souks, or traditional street markets, have been called "the heart of urban Arabia", and Dubai has a good selection of them. 'Souk' is the arabic word for market or place where any kind of goods are brought or exchanged. Trditionally, dhows from the Far East, China, Ceylon, India would discharge their cargos and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Each Souk has merchants who specialise in the same products and the traditional style of doing business by enthusiastic and sometimes melodramatic haggling over endless cups of sweet tea or Turkish coffee is common. One rule prevails - if you do finally agree a price with a merchant you are morally obliged to buy the item from him at your price. Just walking away is considered bad manners.

The Dubai Souks range from the traditional, dusty alleyways of the Spice Souk, a stone's throw from the Creek, to the most famous market of all - the Gold Souk.

Dubai souks are located on both sides of the Creek. Discover narrow alleyways selling handicrafts, carpets and every spice imaginable. The slightly larger lanes are where you will find the gold souks, which are shops overflowing with gold, said to offer the lowest prices in the world.

Haggling is a tradition in the souks. Find the wonders of aromatic spices and the beauty of hand-crafted gold through the labyrinth of narrow winding alleys on the Deira side of the creek. In the spice souk you will find perfumes, incense, and delicious foods piled in sacks awaiting your haggling skills. Walk a bit further toward the gold souk and be dazzled by the glittering displays in each shop window. Choose from gold necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and even design your very own jewelry. Bargaining with shopkeepers is expected and encouraged.

You will find the antique market near the souks where you can buy coffee pots, Arabian chests, daggers, Bedu jewelry and carvings at excellent prices. If interested in buying textiles or silk, head for Cosmos Lane in Bur Dubai or the streets of Satwa, where numerous shops sell a vast array of colorful fabrics.

You can also find excellent electronics on Al Fahidi Street in Bur Dubai. This area is lined with electrical and electronics shops.

Dubai is awash with local markets, and the Creekside souks are a remnant of its days as a thriving port for smugglers and traders in the 19th century. While much has changed since then, the Deira and Bur Dubai souks still have plenty of goods that are worth haggling over, from spices and silks to electronics and gold.

Deira Old Souk & Spice Souk:

Currently under careful refurbishment, this is Dubai's largest and oldest souk. The easiest way to enter is to head for the windtowers on the Deira side of the creek. A wonderfully different experience,the spice souk has narrow streets and an aroma so unique,it's like walking into another era.The place seems to have downsized in the past year and the rows of stalls displaying spice laden sacks are fast diminishing.Although spices are available, a Far eastern influence seems to be setting in ,with integrated shops of cheep eleronic goods and wholesale shoes.Perhaps the slow demise is due to more and more supermarkets suppling a wider range of spices.

Location: Creekside, Deira
Timings: 9am-1pm & 4-10pm, Fridays 4-10pm

Gold Souk:

Dubai's most famous market of all is the 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, ear rings and brooches. Gold prices here are among the lowest in the world. Most jewellery is 24 carat and none is less than 18 carat. Be sure to haggle vehemently and be prepared to walk away if you cannot get the price you require, there will be another shop just a few doors down offering a similar product. Remember to check the daily gold price in the newspapers.

Location: Near St. George Hotel, Al Ras, Deira
Timings: 9am-1pm & 4-10pm, Fridays 4-10pm

Bur Dubai Souk:

Also known as the Textile Souk, and as Cosmos Souk, this market runs along the creek opposite the Deira Souk. Souvenirs and knick-knacks are on sale but the area is best know for its stunning array of fabrics from the Indian subcontinent and the Far East. Parking is very limited but there is an open air pay and display car park next to Dubai Museum.For a good range of textile shops in a single area, head to Al Fahidi Street in Bur Dubai. It’s a good place to pick up material for your suit, shirt or skirt. Most of the shops close around lunchtime, so get there early in the morning or late afternoon.The two main textile shops in Bur Dubai Souks are: Meena Bazar and Rivoli.

Location: Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai
Timings: 9am-1pm & 4-10pm. Fridays 4-10pm

Satwa Souk:

One of Dubai's best kept secrets. Satwa Souk is essentially a shopping square but should not be overlooked for those in search of tailor-made clothes or high quality fabrics. The best known and most frequented shops are Regal and Deepaks. Both stores will recommend nearby tailors who will be happy to turn your fabric purchases into perfectly fitting garments.

Location: Satwa
Timings: Not Available

Food Souk:

The largest array of fresh produce in Dubai. Everything is sold by the kilo so don't expect to return unladen. Imported and local produce are on sale. Omani bananas come highly recommended, guaranteed to be the sweetest bananas you have ever tasted. Don't forget to taste the many varieties of local dates.

The largest and busiest of Dubai’s fish markets is well worth a visit if only to see the incredible array of local fish on offer. Blue lobster from Fujairah, baby sharks and metre long kingfish are just some of the treats in store for the shopper that doesn’t mind getting their shoes dirty. Wear waterproof shoes and old clothes.

Location: Near the gold souk, Deira
Timings: 9am-1pm & 4-10pm. Fridays 4-10pm