From typical holiday trinkets to tasteful keepsakes, there is a huge range of souvenirs in Dubai. Many of the items are regional rather than local, and several are mass produced in India, Pakistan and Oman. You will find a good selection of traditional gifts like antique wooden wedding chests or pashminas, as well as the typical buys like fridge magnets, T-shirts and soft toys. Tourist hotspots like Souk Madinat Jumeirah and the major malls all have a variety of shops and stalls that sell a good selection, or head to the traditional souks around the Creek for a more authentic experience.

Camels feature heavily in souvenir shops; wooden carvings, camel pot stands and even carvings made from camel bones, and are great as novelty presents. Perhaps the tackiest souvenirs are plastic alarm clocks in the shape of a mosque – they only cost Dhs.10 and they wake you up with a loud call to prayer.

Coffee pots are symbols of Arabic hospitality and another popular souvenir item. Prices vary enormously from Dhs.100 for a brand new, shiny one, to several thousand dirhams for a genuine antique. Traditional silver items, such as the Arabic dagger (khanjar) and silver wedding jewellery, are excellent souvenirs, and are available both framed and unframed.

Wooden items are popular and representative of the region; trinket boxes (often with elaborate carvings or brass inlays) start from around Dhs.10. Elaborate Arabic doors and wedding chests, costing thousands, are also popular. The doors can be hung as art, or converted into tables or headboards.

While carpets are a good buy, it is worth doing some research before investing. For a smaller, cheaper option, many shops sell woven coasters and camel bags, or you can buy a Persian carpet mouse pad.

You can hardly walk through a mall or shopping area without being offered a pashmina – they are available in an abundant range of colours and styles. Most are a cotton or silk mix and the ratio dictates the price. It is a good idea to check out a few shops before buying as prices vary and, as with most items, the more you buy the cheaper they are. For a decent quality pashmina, prices start from around Dhs.50. Shisha pipes make fun souvenirs and can be bought with various flavours of tobacco, such as apple or strawberry. Both functional and ornamental examples are on sale, prices start from around Dhs.75 in Carrefour.

Local scents, like oud and frankincense, make good gifts and are widely available in outlets such as Arabian Oud and Paris Gallery, while Amouage produces some of the world’s most valuable perfumes, made with rare ingredients.

Explorer publishes a number of great, multi-language coffee table books, calendars and postcards with stunning photos depicting the diversity of this vibrant city. Visit the Explorer e-shop to order copies.


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