If eating is the Emirates favourite pass time, then shopping is their all time favourite sport. There has yet to be a visitor that went to the middle- east and didn't indulge in some shopping. From local and traditional souks to high end top brands and fancy maze like malls, the United Arab Emirates is a shopaholic's paradise. In fact shopping is taken so seriously that the Emirates have even dedicated certain festivals to the shopping extravaganza which has become like an annual event. So much so that it has got people from across the globe planning their travels around it. If you're visiting the Emirates, then these are some of the festivals or shopping destinations you must not miss!
Dubai shopping festival (Jan and Feb) - The mother of all shopping pilgrimages is the immensely famous annual Dubai Shopping Festival held at the beginning of the year. Since its inception in 1996, the festival has been attracting hoards of shoppers and is so popular that it has even helped boost tourism in Dubai. The festival has great shopping deals and discounts, exhibitions, cultural programmes, street plays, fireworks, celebrity sightings and a lot of entertainment. If you plan to shop till you drop, this month long extravaganza is right up your alley.
Abu Dhabi Shopping Festival (March) - Not to be left behind in the shadow of its Emirati sibling, Abu Dhabi also has its own shopping festival similar to Dubai. The festival is not as grand as the one in Dubai but it's a great spot to hunt for bargains and discounts. The entire city is decorated in honour of this event. The festival is perfect for buying electronics, carpets, watches, trendy clothes, perfumes and even gold.
Sharjah Ramadan Shopping Festival - This festival begins a couple of days before the holy month of Ramadan and lasts for six to seven weeks. There are promotions; malls run special discounts and daily raffles. There are cultural events and entertainment for people and it's another great time to indulge in shopping. It's a perfect way to promote Sharjah as a travel destination as well as a give-back to the society. About 20% of the proceeds from the festival are donated to charity.
Dubai Mall - Apart from the festivals, the UAE is studden with massive malls filled with high end designer stores and fancy retail. Every city in the middle-east boasts of their extravagant shopping destinations but Dubai is the king of all. It’s a home to the popular Dubai Mall (the largest mall in the world) which houses almost 1200 stores as well as an indoor theme park, aquarium and even an ice skating ring. It would take days to scout each and every part of these gigantic malls but none of the stores will disappoint you.
Souks - There are various souks, for gold, spices or textiles and these give you a glimpse into the old world trading and how the Arabs shopped before the attack of the malls. Nowadays, it is uncommon for even the locals to shop much at the souks and more than a shopping destination they've become tourist hubs. A hub of al fresco and rustic old world middle-eastern shopping, a visit to these souks is a must- experience.
Article by Roxanne Bamboat: Roxanne is a pint sized girl who enjoys reading, movies, travel and is obsessed with food. She expresses her love for all things edible in her food blog. A freelancer in her profession, she is able to spend most of her time sampling the city's food offerings and reviews them as well as shares a few of her favourite recipes. More often known as The Tiny Taster, she's decided to take the world by storm - one plate a a time !