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United Arab Emirates Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in United Arab Emirates

Tax-free prices and an abundance of cheaper luxury brands means shopping is a national pastime for Emiratis, with thousands of people flocking to the UAE each year for the annual Dubai Shopping Festival. The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are among the largest malls in the world, and are famous for their incredible extras, including an aquarium and ski slope, whilst the newly opened Galleria on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi offers more than 130 luxury brands. Shopping here really is an attraction in itself, with a whole host of other activities including ice rinks, cinemas and arcades.

Aside from malls, visitors can experience a traditional Middle Eastern shopping vibe at the souks (bazaars), where leather goods, gold, silver and clothing like silk pashminas can be bought at rock bottom prices. Karama, in Dubai, is a good place to start practising your haggling, as store holders expect visitors to go there hunting for a bargain! You can ask for ‘special’ versions of bags or clothing in many of the shops here, and you will be taken to a back room filled with knock-off goods. Alternatively, the souks on either side of the Creek offer a kind of Morroco-lite shopping experience, offering a taste of the region. Here you can purchase spices, and local coffee as well as fascinating memorabilia from Arabic chests and swords, old maps of the local area and trinkets.

As you would expect in this billionaires playground there are also high-end souks, such as The Souk, Abu Dhabi Central Market, which is a beautiful, luxury modern take on a market from the region, here shopkeepers sell high-end home ware, fashion and gifts. Alternatively, Souk Madinat offers an intricate warren of stalls, bars and restaurants.

Shopping hours

Most of the malls have extended shopping hours – some of them are even open until midnight. Some stores close for prayers on Fridays. The souks are best during the evening, with many stalls closed on Fridays and in the morning.

Nightlife in United Arab Emirates

The large Western expat community has transformed Abu Dhabi and Dubai into party towns, with a huge range of bars and nightclubs. Smaller, local establishments with Arabic singers or troupes of Filipino bands and dancers exist alongside classy cocktail bars and nightclubs, which regularly host international DJs and bands from all around the world. Due to the strict alcohol laws, most venues are located in hotels and range from sophisticated cocktail lounges such as Jetty Lounge, set on The One & Only Royal Mirage’s private beach, which attracts a young, professional crowd who laze around on its crisp white couches listening to a chill out DJ set.

English-style or Irish pubs include the Irish Village, designed like a village to hark straight back to the bonnie green land filled. Barasti is the Aussie, Kiwi and Saffa choice, and is decked out on the beach like a giant tiki bar with poi dancing into the night. Ladies nights in the UAE are an institution, with many offering free or heavily discounted drinks to female patrons.