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Things to Buy in Dubai


There is an abundance of unique and memorable things to buy in Dubai that make for perfect gifts or keepsakes. This bustling metropolis, renowned for its cosmopolitan flair and deep-rooted cultural traditions, offers a wide array of shopping opportunities. This guide will help you navigate the city’s vibrant marketplaces and bring home a piece of Dubai’s vibrant culture.

Persian rugs at a store in Dubai

Persian rugs


Shopping in Dubai offers a treasure trove of unique items, and one standout suggestion is Persian rugs. These exquisite pieces are renowned worldwide for their intricate designs, fine detailing, and quality materials.

Persian rugs are heavy textiles created for a wide array of uses, ranging from practical to symbolic. Originating from Iran, historically known as Persia, these carpets are an integral part of Persian culture and Iranian art. The unique appeal of these rugs comes from their diverse designs, reflecting their rich history. They were traditionally woven by nomadic tribes, in village and town workshops, and by royal court manufactories, providing a blend of various concurrent traditions.

In Dubai, you can find a broad range of Persian rugs, from affordable to high-end ones. The prices vary based on factors such as quality, material, size, and the amount of craftsmanship involved. Handmade rugs, being perfect insulators for winter, are more expensive than machine-made ones but offer superior quality and uniqueness.

Many stores in Dubai offer customization options if the existing ones don’t meet your preferences. This allows you to have a rug that perfectly suits your taste and home decor. Investing in a Persian rug, with its rich history, intricate design, and fine detailing, can indeed elevate your home’s aesthetic appeal. If you’re not on a strict budget and wish to bring something beautiful and classy into your home, Persian rugs are an excellent choice. They are not only one of the best home decor products but also one of the most popular items to buy in Dubai, making them a worthy investment and a fabulous gift.

Pashmina scarf


Dubai’s shopping scene is renowned globally and one exotic item that catches shoppers’ eyes is the Pashmina shawl. Pashmina, meaning ‘soft gold’ in Persian, refers to a type of cashmere wool obtained from a specific breed of Himalayan goats. Pashminas are cherished for their incredible softness, warmth, and lightweight, making them a perfect accessory or a luxurious gift.

Dubai offers Pashminas in hundreds of colors and styles, ranging from simple to ornate designs with beads and embroidery. Identifying a genuine Pashmina involves the ‘pull test’: if you can pull the fabric through a small hole, such as a ring, it’s likely authentic.

The production of Pashmina is a labor-intensive process that can take up to three weeks, beginning with hand-combing the goats in the Himalayan foothills. The wool is then processed, woven, dyed, washed, ironed, and inspected, before being sold.

Pashmina differs subtly from Cashmere: it comes from a specific breed of goat and has a finer fiber diameter, requiring manual spinning and weaving, hence, it’s typically more expensive.

When in Dubai, consider investing in a Pashmina shawl. It’s not just a beautiful piece of clothing but a symbol of meticulous craftsmanship and tradition.

Pashmina shawls being displayed
Arabic incense burner at spice souq in Dubai

Dubai’s signature scents


Attar, Bakhoor, and Oud – form an integral part of its rich aromatic tradition, presenting perfect gift ideas for admirers of traditional Arabic culture and fragrances.

Attar, an essential oil derived from botanical or other natural sources, is extracted mainly through hydro or steam distillation. Attar involves distilling oils into a wood base such as sandalwood and then aging them. This period can range from one to ten years, this depends on the wood that is used and the desired outcomes. Attars are technically distillates of flowers, herbs, spices, and other natural materials,
including baked soil, which are distilled over sandalwood oil.

Bakhoor, an aromatic blend of wood chips soaked in perfume oils, releases an exotic aroma when burned in a traditional incense burner. Often including elements like muattar, mamool, and mabthooth – the latter being oud wood shavings soaked in fragrant oils – Bakhoor’s various forms range from chips and blocks to balls.

Oud, on the other hand, is a natural oil derived from the resinous heartwood of Aquilaria trees. Worn traditionally by Emirati men and women, it is distilled from hardened tree sap and considered a luxury due to its extensive labor and material requirements for production.

These signature scents of Dubai – Attar, Bakhoor, and Oud – each with its unique fragrance, are deeply embedded in Dubai’s culture. From personal use to scenting the air in homes, hotels, and traditional coffee shops, they present a piece of Dubai’s aromatic heritage. Therefore, they make for thoughtful and exotic gifts, sure to be appreciated by those who value authentic and traditional fragrances.

Dubai food


Dubai offers a myriad of unique and flavorful foods that make for perfect souvenirs or gifts.


One suggestion is Arabian coffee, or Kava as it’s locally known. It holds a significant place in Arabic culture. Loved for its robust and intense flavor, it’s traditionally served black and strong. The coffee is often presented in ornate pots and designer cups, many lined with gold or silver and some adorned with semi-precious stones, which makes for an impressive gift. A visit to Dubai would be incomplete without savoring a cup of Kava and picking up some to take home, adding an authentic taste of Dubai to your coffee routine.
For those who enjoy cooking, Dubai’s famous spices are an absolute must-buy. Available at local markets at affordable prices. The spices are not only rich in taste but also embody the aromatic essence of Dubai’s food culture.
Another unique food item to consider is Camel Milk Chocolate. This delicacy is delightfully tasty and one of the most sought-after items to buy in Dubai. Al Nassma, the only company that produces these chocolates, offers varieties such as whole milk, macadamia, and spiced chocolates, all imbued with the distinct taste of camel milk. These unique chocolates, initially only found in Dubai, are now being exported to Europe and other Asian countries, but there’s nothing quite like buying them at the source.
Finally, Dates, a staple in the Middle Eastern diet, are a renowned delicacy in Dubai. The high-quality dates produced here are not only delicious snacks but are also rich in essential nutrients. These fruits are eaten raw, used in desserts, served with coffee, used to make non-alcoholic beverages, and often gifted during Ramadan.
Arabian coffee, Dubai spices, Camel Milk Chocolate, and Arabian Dates are all treasures from Dubai that
can bring a piece of the city’s culture into your home, or serve as great gifts.
Dates and Arabian coffee served in an ornate cup
Gold bracelets in a store window in Deira Gold souq in Dubai

Gold and Jewelry


Dubai, known as the ‘city of gold,’ is a top destination for gold and fine jewelry shopping. Gold’s purity is measured in karats, with 24-karat being the purest form, often sold as coins or bars. Jewelers in Dubai typically use 22-karat gold for items like chains and bangles, and 18-karat gold for pieces with diamonds or other stones.

Prices for gold fluctuate daily and are largely determined by weight and design intricacy. Despite the recent introduction of a 5% value-added tax, gold in Dubai is still considered cheaper compared to many other countries.

Dubai also offers high-quality gemstones, purchasable as loose stones or in jewelry. Depending on your birth month, ‘lucky stones’ encased in rings or pendants are believed to bring good luck. These unique souvenirs, especially those with Arabian designs, make excellent gifts and are particularly popular during the Dubai shopping festival.

Dubai presents a unique blend of experiences and treasures that can be translated into wonderful gifts or souvenirs. The city, renowned for its commitment to tradition and quality, offers a range of items, from fragrances steeped in history, to handcrafted Persian rugs, to unique food delicacies and precious jewelry. Each item encapsulates the city’s rich heritage and also adds a touch of its distinctiveness to your own environment. So, whether you’re after a little something to remind you of your journey, or you’re looking to dazzle someone with a truly memorable gift, things to buy in Dubai certainly have something special for you.


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