With December just a few months away, it won’t be long before the country’s cities are transformed into dazzling winter wonderlands, with twinkling decorations and traditional markets. But the UK isn’t the only place to get your festive fix of Christmas sparkle.
When it comes to Christmas shopping breaks, few destinations compare to the extraordinary city of Dubai. Boasting several world-famous malls and a myriad of traditional souk markets, this iconic Middle Eastern metropolis is truly magical around this time of year.
Want to make this year’s celebrations extra special? Take a read of our guide to Christmas shopping breaks in Dubai. We’ve packed it full of tips and advice to help you make the most of your winter Dubai holiday. Read on to find out more about where to shop, where to stay and how to grab a bargain.
When it comes to Christmas shopping breaks to Dubai, the city has no shortage of vast shopping malls and authentic souk markets. The Middle East offers something for everyone, with an amazing selection of gift ideas and presents.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to Dubai’s shopping malls, with several outstanding complexes to choose from. All feature a wealth of designer stores, exclusive boutiques, toy stores, local brands, as well as restaurants, bars and entertainment complexes.
Modern and glamorous, the Dubai Mall is a retail heaven like you’ve never seen before. The mall is one of the best destinations in Dubai for a Christmas shopping spree - it’s also just moments away from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa .
Set across four floors and boasting over 1,200 stores, Christmas shopping at the Dubai Mall is an experience like no other. The record-breaking mall would give Santa’s workshop a run for its money during the holiday season, with candy canes, giant baubles and Christmas trees.
You’ll find a vast array of shops at the Dubai Mall, including high street favourites like Adidas, GAP and Debenhams, as well as designer stores like Chanel and Armani. If you’re looking for more authentic and traditional gifts, you’ll want to discover the Dubai Mall Souk.
Other highlights of the Dubai Mall include the fabulous Dubai Ice Rink, which provides hours of fun for the whole family - what better way to spend the holiday season?
Don’t miss: the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, Reel Cinemas.
Where is the Dubai Mall? The Dubai Mall is located in the city’s Financial Centre in Downtown Dubai.
The Mall is an essential stop-off on shopping holidays in Dubai, with over 700 stores and a stunning range of holiday-inspired attractions. Looking for that perfect gift? You’ll find a superb selection of well-known shops, brands and department stores here, including Marks & Spencer and Harvey Nichols.
Christmas is a special time to visit the Mall of The Emirates, not only for shopping but for festive fun too. Log cabins, Christmas trees and ornate decorations give the mall a real North Pole feel. And while it may not snow in Dubai, you’ll find plenty of the white stuff at the shopping centre’s indoor Ski Dubai park – the Middle East’s first indoor snow centre.
Don’t miss: Ski Dubai, the Magic Planet indoor entertainment centre and Vox Cinemas.
Where is the Dubai Mall? The Mall of the Emirates is located on the famous Sheikh Zayed road and is served by the city’s metro system.
If you need another reason to visit Dubai for Christmas, we recommend taking a trip to the enchanting Dubai Winter Festival, which celebrates its 5th birthday this year. The annual celebrations are held in the magnificent Dubai Media City Amphitheatre area, between the 8th and 10th of December.
Carol singing, live performances, fun fairs and Christmas exhibitions are just some of what you can expect at the superb Dubai Winter Festival, as well as a fun and festive-themed Christmas market, where you’ll find cute gifts, handmade toys and stocking fillers.
Don’t miss: Taking the kids away on a Christmas holiday in Dubai? Make sure you make time to visit Santa in his grotto.
Where is the Dubai Winter Festival? Want to plan your Dubai Christmas shopping holiday to coincide with the Dubai Winter Festival? The event takes place at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.
One famed Dubai shopping attraction that cannot go unmentioned is the spectacular Souk Madinat bazaar. The authentic market blends the magic of a traditional Arabian market and takes inspiration from countries around the Middle East.
The Dubai market is a superb destination for shoppers all year round, but wintertime is when the real magic happens. Christmas trees, fake snow and candle-lit lanterns turn the Souk Madinat and surrounding Madinat Jumeirah into a must-see Christmas shopping destination.
You’ll find everything from Persian rugs to hand carved wooden ornaments in the Souk Madinat, as well as unique presents and gifts that are unique to the Middle East.
Christmas shopping in Dubai can be thirsty work, with so much to see and do. Fortunately, the Souk Madinat houses an exceptional selection of restaurants, bars and cosy cafés, where you can sample festive treats and traditional bites.
Don’t miss: The Souk Madinat’s authentic Persian rug stores.
Where is the Souk Madinat? The Souk Madinat can be found on Al Sufouh Road, in the large Madinat Jumeirah resort.
One of the best reasons to choose Dubai for a Christmas shopping holiday is the Emirate’s mix of modern and traditional shopping.
Stuck for Christmas gift ideas? How about perfume? Dubai’s breathtaking Perfume Souk is home to an incredible array of fragrances and scents.
Looking for a luxurious and expensive gift for that special person in your life? Take a trip to the nearby Gold Souk, where you’ll find a fantastic range of authentic gold jewelry, including precious stones and handmade necklaces.
Don’t miss: Perfumes with authentic Asian scents, like Indian sandalwood and Turkish rose.
Where is the Perfume Souk? The Perfume Souk and Gold Souk can be found in the Sikkat al Khali in the Deira region.
These are just a few of Dubai’s best shopping malls and markets, the city is home to a number of other great centres that are worth visiting, including the City Centre Deira, the WAFI Mall and Karama Market.
Christmas shopping in Dubai is a sublime experience! But grand displays and fabulous decorations aren’t the only reason to visit; the city is also a great place to pick up bargains.
The markets are often where you’ll find the best offers and deals, particularly if you’re buying precious metals, like gold. The reason being is that you can haggle and barter with shopkeepers to negotiate a better deal, which is rarely possible on the high street.
Talking of the high street, a trip to the malls on your Christmas shopping holiday in Dubai may result in some great bargains. Look out for savings on high street sales and brands that are unique to Dubai.
As for luxury shopping in Dubai, it all depends on how much you are willing to spend. You certainly won’t be able to haggle in the city’s designer stores and boutiques, but you may find reductions on clothes from past seasons or discontinued lines.
Exchange rates also play a big part when it comes to shopping in Dubai. If the pound is particularly strong, you may find certain goods and products to be better value. But remember, many items are liable to VAT charges and duty – more on this later.
One of the most important parts of planning your Christmas shopping break in Dubai is deciding where to stay. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to hotels in Dubai, with so many first-rate resorts on offer.
From luxury spas and fitness suites to celebrity-endorsed restaurants, the city’s hotels provide the perfect setting for a relaxing stay, which is exactly what you need after spending a day shopping in Dubai.
In this section of our Dubai Christmas shopping guide, we’ll talk you through the Dubai hotels that are closest to the main shopping districts and markets.
Looking for places to stay on your Dubai Christmas holiday? The Jumeirah Beach Hotel is one of the best resorts in the city. Breathtaking views, 21 restaurants and bars, six swimming pools and a kids’ club are just a few features of this iconic wave-shaped hotel.
As for Dubai shopping, you’re conveniently located between two of the city’s best shopping malls. We recommend catching a taxi to the Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall, which are situated just 15 minutes and 25 minutes away by car respectively.
If a holiday to one of Dubai’s best hotels appeals to you, we recommend booking your stay at the extraordinary Atlantis, The Palm hotel. The resort oozes grandeur, with an enviable selection of celebrity restaurants, a private beach, traditional spas and one of Dubai’s best family attractions, the Aquaventure Waterpark. A comfortable stay awaits you in every one of the Atlantis’ superb rooms.
Atlantis, The Palm is situated on the Palm Jumeirah. You can reach Dubai’s mainland in 15 minutes by car. A high-speed monorail also runs to and from the island, making access to the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall, Dubai Winter Festival and Souk Madinat easy and convenient.
The Souk Madinat is one of our all-time favourite destinations for shopping in Dubai. By staying at the opulent Jumeirah Al Qasr resort, you’ll have direct access to this authentic marketplace. Like many of Dubai’s best hotels, the Jumeirah Al Qasr boasts several magnificent pools and relaxation centres, where you can unwind after your shopping trip.
You’ll find the Jumeirah Al Qasr, along with the Souk Madinat, in the sublime Jumeirah Madinat resort. The hotel also boasts its own private beach with superb views of the world-famous Burj Al Arab building.
The Jumeirah Al Qasr is also conveniently located near the Mall of the Emirates shopping mall, which is just a ten-minute taxi ride by car. Looking for Dubai’s traditional souks? The Perfume Souk and Gold Souk are located in the Deira district and are just 30 minutes by taxi.
Looking for a luxurious and comfortable retreat to enjoy after your Dubai Christmas shopping spree? We recommend a stay in the extravagant Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort . The Hilton’s enviable location on Jumeirah Beach means you’re just a mere stone’s throw from all the action.
A short taxi ride will take you to the city’s main shopping centres and souks, including the Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall. But there’s no need to travel too far from home, as the Dubai Marina Mall is right on your doorstep.
The mall is a shopper’s haven, with 130 individual stores across four floors. Want to take a break from shopping in Dubai? Simply head to one of the mall’s exquisite waterfront restaurants or catch a film at the Reel Cinemas complex.
Want to stay close to the Dubai Marina? You may want to try one these other luxury hotels: JA Ocean View Hotel and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa.
Dubai’s main shopping malls are fairly spread out across the city, so public transport or taxi rides are recommended on your Christmas shopping holiday to Dubai.
It takes approximately 26 minutes by car to get from the Mall of the Emirates to the Dubai Mall. You can do the same journey by taking the metro, although this will add approximately 15 minutes onto your journey.
If you decide to stay on the Palm Jumeirah or on Jumeirah Beach, you’ll never be further than 25 minutes by car to the Mall of the Emirates or the Dubai Mall.
The Gold and Perfume souks are located away from Dubai’s main tourist hotspots in Deira. By car, the journey takes approximately 36 minutes from the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. If you’re going to travel to Deira, we suggest paying the extra for a taxi, as the journey requires taking two separate metros.
The Madinat Souk at Madinat Jumeirah is located along the coast, making travel easy and convenient. You can walk to the market or catch a metro from most nearby beachfront hotels on the mainland.
The most important thing to remember when Christmas shopping in Dubai is that certain items you bring back may be subject to VAT or duty.
Dubai is a VAT-free city, so you won’t pay value added tax on certain items you buy over there, however, these goods will often have to be declared on your return journey.
Remember, goods bought outside the EU while on holiday must be kept by you or given as a gift. You can bring back goods of up to £390 if you’re returning to the UK from Dubai; anything over that will be liable for Customs Duty on the entire value. Currently, the rate is 2.5 percent for goods worth up to £630.
As for VAT, you may be required to pay import VAT on goods you bring back from Dubai. This won’t apply to little trinkets and souvenirs you pick up in the markets, but an expensive designer dress may be subject to a VAT charge.
If you’re going to be buying designer perfumes, alcohol or cigarettes, we recommend buying these at the duty free store at Dubai Airport, where you’re likely to get a much better deal.
For more information, check out our recent blog post on tax-free shopping in Dubai.
You’ll also find a brilliant selection of holidays to Dubai and the Middle East on our website, whatever the time of year. Alternatively, you’ll find a number of blogs and guides and other Dubai guides on our blog.
In the meantime, your festive Dubai getaway awaits you!