5 Shopper’s Guide to Dubai

Read on for tips to help you bag that bargain during your stay in Dubai.

Dubai is a veritable shopper’s paradise, home to an array of retail experiences available at all hours of the day that let you find unique treasures while soaking up the local culture. Whether you’re looking for the latest designer must-haves, original handmade products, gorgeous textiles, aromatic spices or holiday souvenirs, you’ve come to the right place.

1. Do your research
In addition to world-renowned malls, Dubai provides retail therapy in a variety of other ways:

· SOUKS – Away from the glitz and glamour of Dubai’s modern malls there’s a whole other world of shopping waiting to be discovered. Head to the traditional souks of Old Dubai to shop (and bargain) to your heart’s content. You’ll find intricate jewellery in the Gold Souk, where buyers benefit from lower labour costs, duties and taxes, traditional fragrances in the Perfume Souk, and exotic herbs and spices in the Spice Souk.

· OUTLET BARGAINS – With massive shopping complexes like The Outlet Village and Dubai Outlet Mall, you could snag a deal from over 100 high-end brands that all offer discounted prices. For those whose budget does not stretch to the latest Tiffany necklace or Calvin Klein suit, Dubai also boasts Dragon Mart. Home to 4,000 stores selling everything from furniture, electronics, fabric, clothing and footwear, to toys, stationary and building materials, all at affordable prices, this dragon-shaped shopping centre is open to both retail and wholesale customers.

· GLOBAL VILLAGE – Annual cultural-retail-entertainment hub Global Village, open from November to April, is a great option if you enjoy hunting for more unusual items, souvenirs and gifts from all over the world – all while sampling global cuisines and having a great time with the whole family.

2. Visit more than one shop
This gives you a chance to compare current retail and street prices for what you’re looking for, and will help you determine how much you should be paying for an item. It also helps you interact with vendors, who may have a better variety of items for a cheaper price. In these situations, knowledge is power – so enter into any negotiation armed with prices from competitors. Most retailers will at least match these, and many will go lower.

3. Be friendly, yet firm
Smile and say hello (or “Marhaba”, in Arabic) when you first arrive. It can also help to build a rapport and build a narrative around your decision-making process. A bit of give and take is essential, so treat this as an open discussion where you’re willing and happy to compromise. Another phrase than can help is “Akher se’er” (phonetic pronunciation: Aa-kher-saa-er), which roughly translates to “Can you give me a lower price?”

Try and use language that will help you secure a deal; if you are clearly in love with an item, they know you will pay the price offered regardless, so it’s best to ‘play it cool’. Also, try to maintain eye contact, as this can be the most engaging thing you can do and works wonders at building trust.

If the seller won’t budge on the price, ask if you can get an accessory/souvenir thrown in. Experts suggest this can be an effective tactic to get extra services or accessories if you pay full price.

4. Carry cash
Making an offer and holding out the amount in cash makes it harder for the seller to resist and always gets you a better deal.

5. Shop late
The basic rule is that you should haggle for items whenever the demand for them is falling and sellers are aiming to clear their stock before packing up – which is why it’s a good time to hit the shops closer to the end of the day. This can also be true when you need to purchase products at the end of the season, when new merchandise is being put out. Additionally, the end of the month can also prove an effective time to bag the best bargains as this is when vendors and retailers will be trying to meet financial targets and are therefore likely to lower prices in order to make a sale. Another tip to remember is to wait until the store is quiet – no one is going to waste time bartering with you if there are many other customers who are willing to pay full price.

Text and photos courtesy of Dubai Tourism

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