Travel GuidesSix local souvenirs to buy in Dubai

Treasure troves of precious metals, dining delicacies and objets d'art, Dubai's souks and markets are the place to uncover authentic souvenirs

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Dubai is a city known for its shopping. Extraordinary, luxury megamalls draw shoppers from across the globe, drawn by the concentration of high fashion and international brands. But away from the big-name designers hide the items you should really be shopping for in Dubai: scents, spices, gold and copper fill the souks and markets, and these are the souvenirs to buy in Dubai to give a true feel of the Emirates.

 

Aromatic oud oil

Exotic, mysterious and alluring, the Arabian incense, oud, has radiated through the region for thousands of years. Harvested from the heartwood of the Aquilaria tree, oud is a dark, resinous wood with a sensual, musky aroma. Oud plays an intrinsic part in Emirati life, worn as a fragrance and burnt as incense at home. At the Perfume Souk you’ll find it in its purest form. Here, perfumers will even create your own personal oud-based fragrance. Peruse the row upon row of attar bottles housing floral essential oils like jasmine and rose, and pick which ones to blend with the oud into your own signature scent.

perfume local souvenirs dubai

 

All that glitters is gold

Dubai is one of the world’s main gold trading hubs, so you’re spoilt for choice with places to pick up beautiful jewellery, or even bullion. The glittering Gold Souk is an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures and the best place to pick up a golden gift. The 400 or so shops in Old Dubai’s gleaming market sell exquisitely ornate bangles, necklaces and decorations designed in a traditionally Arabic style. Before making a purchase, ask about its carat and weight and don’t be afraid to haggle.

gold jewellery

 

Make a date

Soft, caramel-like and deliciously moreish, dates are a must-eat in Dubai and the Middle East. Having been cultivated for thousands of years, there are over 100 types to try: the Medjool dates are sweet, soft and golden-brown in colour, while the Zaghloul variety are elongated, crunchy with a dark skin. Historically, the Bedouin tribes saw dates as a valuable source of food in the arid landscape, and in the 21st century they signify generosity, gratitude and plenty in the Arab world. Whether fresh, glazed or stuffed with nuts, a prettily packaged box of dates is something to take home from Dubai. Search out the best gourmet dates in Dubai at the range of Bateel cafes and shops dotted across the city.

lanterns and dates local souvenirs dubai

 

Pick a Pashmina

Light as a feather and silken smooth, cashmere pashminas are the most luxurious of cover-ups. Originating in Kashmir, the wool would have been transported through Persia to the West with the Emirates as a key staging post. Napoleon bought so many for his wife that she had one for every day of the year. In Dubai, lustrous pashminas in a kaleidoscope of colours can be found at a cheaper price than most places internationally. Search amid the Persian rugs and rich velvets of the Textile Souk to find your perfect pashmina, and pull through a ring to test its authenticity before buying. If made from cashmere, it should flow through smoothly.

pashmina local souvenirs dubai

 

Sensational sumac

That crimson powder that dusts your salads and hummus in Dubai? Sumac. Arabian food radiates with the zingy tartness of this lively red spice, harvested from the fruit of the sumac flower. Sumac’s lemony tang has been enlivening Mediterranean and Middle Eastern rubs, marinades and dressings since Ancient Greece. A visit to the Spice Souk is the best place to buy sumac, but be warned as you step inside, the aroma of a thousand herbs and spices will make you want to buy a whole lot more.

spices local souvenirs dubai

 

Delightful dallahs

Tall, slender with undulating curves and ornate engraving, Arabian coffee pots (dallahs) are synonymous with the Middle East’s café culture. Made from copper or silver and often lined in gold, dallahs are as stunningly ornamental as they are practical and make an excellent Dubai souvenir. Look out for them at any souk you visit or pick one up at the Dubai Coffee Museum.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel is the perfect place to use as a base to discover the souks and markets of Dubai. Or visit some of our in-hotel stores and browse for one of the authentically Emirati souvenirs.

coffee pot local souvenirs dubai