The United Arab Emirates may not ring a bell to many, but perhaps the city of Dubai will. The lavish city has certainly built a name for itself, inviting tourists from all over the world to indulge in its luxury. On your visit, you will find a number of traditional and relatively cheap souvenirs, such as the abaya, coffee, and dates, making it difficult to leave the emirate empty-handed. Without further ado, here are the 25 best souvenirs from Dubai.
The 25 best souvenirs from Dubai
It is no surprise that the United Arab Emirates takes pride in its palm trees, particularly what it has to offer. Dates are a vital aspect of Dubai’s culture because it represents hospitality and religious significance. It is the first thing served to a guest and the first thing Muslims eat to break their fast. On top of that, the health benefits add to its value.
Dubai markets offer a wide selection of dates including dry, sweet, chewy, biscuit, date syrup, and more in a range of prices. With a variety of options, you simply cannot leave without a kilo of dates.
Although the hawk is the national animal of the UAE, Dubai is better represented by the camel. From items like stuffed camels, camel shaped chocolates, magnets, and T-shirts, it is obvious that the city has a plethora of camel representation. However, a more authentic souvenir is a miniature gold camel, decorated with various jewels on its hump.
Camel souvenirs in Dubai are the perfect representation of the country and can be found anywhere.
3. Traditional Coffee
One of the best souvenirs from Dubai is the traditional Arabic coffee, Qahwah. Because of the intensity of the caffeine, it is consumed in a small cup. If you’re looking to take home some Qahwah, then any spice market in Dubai should do. This symbolic beverage represents hospitality because Qahwah and dates are the first thing offered to a guest.
It is served in a traditional set which brings us to the next souvenir.
4. Dallah and Finjan
When it comes to things to buy in Dubai, the Dallah is a must. The Qahwah is served in the tall coffee pot that has an unusually long spout. Although the dallah can be bought separately, it is ideally purchased with a dozen finjan, the minuscule cups. The coffee set comes in various designs and intricate patterns, making it difficult for tourists to pick a favorite. It is generally a cheap souvenir found anywhere, but the prices can differ depending on the style and quality.
The Dallah is often placed at the entrances of stores and homes as a symbol of hospitality. As a matter of fact, its importance in the culture is demonstrated on the 1 Dirham.
5. Woven Handicrafts
The woven handicrafts are possibly the best representation of Dubai’s heritage. These hand-made Dubai souvenirs are woven from a variety of sources such as palm tree leaves, cotton, and wool, to produce diverse prints. This has been a traditional practice of the bedouin women during which they would share stories and recite poetry.
Today, tourists can choose from a wide selection of woven items including baskets, placemats, coasters, rugs, bags, fans, containers, and much more. These souvenirs from Dubai are cheap, traditional, and found at the souk.
6. Gold Jewelry
Dubai is often correlated with luxury, which brings us to our next souvenir, gold!
The gold souk offers an abundance of jewelry inspired by Indian and Arabian designs. Bangles, necklaces, and even belts glisten through the screen, compelling tourists to stop by. Some may even argue that gold in Dubai is cheaper compared to the rest of the world, which gives you all the more reason to make that purchase.
If you’re looking for something traditional in gold, then consultants can lead you to the long necklaces and heavy bracelets. A tourist favorite is a headpiece; though not real gold, it is an elegant ornament. It forms a geometric pattern that rests on the head and has gold chains dangle through the hair. Needless to say, gold souvenirs from Dubai aren’t cheap, but the headpiece is worth the purchase!
Bakhoor is a traditional form of incense which falls in a tourist’s list of things to buy in Dubai.
It is a combination of natural ingredients including but not limited to saffron, sandalwood, Arabic gum, Arabic Oud, and various oils. It comes in different forms, such as wood chips soaked in fragrance, or loose Bakhoor which is a powder. Either one is placed on burning charcoal which will allow the incense to release its fragrance. The use of Bakhoor is an ancient tradition and a modern alternative for air fresheners and perfumes.
It comes in a range of prices depending on the quality. However, if you’re looking to leave with an authentic souvenir from Dubai, then head over to Swiss Arabian or Abdul Samad Al Quraishi for the best quality.
Bakhoor is placed in the Mabkharah. This souvenir can be used as a decoration item and not necessarily to burn Bakhoor. The Mabkharah appears in various shapes, but the idea is to place the Bakhoor inside the pit of the burner. When the incense dies, simply add some more onto the charcoal.
In many parts of the UAE, people place the Mabkharah in their homes and stores to add fragrance. In fact, many Emiratis place the Mabkharah under their Abayas and Kandoras to allow the fragrant smoke to enter the clothes. This leaves a lasting scent in the clothes compared to a few spritzes of perfume.
The Mabkharah is typically a cheap souvenir from Dubai that can be found in most gift stores.
The Abaya is the traditional outfit worn by Emirati women. It is a long black robe that goes over the normal clothing and comes with a matching Sheila, or scarf. This style of clothing is derived from the Islamic dress code for women, which requires the covering of the entire body except for the hands and face. It comes in various colors and styles, but Emirati women typically stick to black.
The Abaya is a unique souvenir from Dubai that will remind you of the culture, not to mention its convenience in wear and timeless fashion. If you’re looking to take home a simple Abaya as a souvenir, you can find it at any souk for a decent price. However, if you prefer a branded Abaya with better quality, you should head over to the Abaya boutiques in Dubai, though be warned the prices will be higher.
The traditional garment worn not only by Emirati men, but most men in the UAE is the Kandoora. This clothing adopts a similar style compared to the women’s Abaya. Instead, it is a long white robe with a tassel in the front.
The Kandoora does come in different colors, but Emirati men typically wear white. Ministers, rulers and members of the elite wear a gold or black robe on top of the Kandoora to represent their status.
Although it is a great souvenir from Dubai, it is the headpiece that comes with the Kandoora that typically grabs the attention of tourists.
The Ghatra is the final item worn with the Kandoora to complete the look. This souvenir in particular is a tourist favorite because of its uniqueness. It is traditionally worn by Emirati men to protect their head from the heat of the sun and the harsh sandstorms.
The Ghatra material is either a white fabric with red designing or simply plain white fabric. It is wrapped around the head in a particular fashion, or loosely placed on the head and secured with a thick black ring called the Egal. If there is one souvenir you must take from Dubai, it would be the Ghatra which can be found at most souks and Kandoora stores for a decent price.
If you’re hunting for more things to buy in Dubai, take a look at the Burqah. The Emirati women’s idea of covering the face involves a gold fabric cut uniquely to hide distinguishable features such as the nose and lips. This is an authentic souvenir from Dubai because it a unique remembrance of Emirati women.
However, despite its affordability, the Burqah can be difficult to find. Gift stores and boutiques are more likely to have it than the souks. Nonetheless, if you’re leaving without purchasing an abaya, then you should definitely pick up the Burqah as an alternative.
The Jilabaya is an expensive but luxurious souvenir you want to buy before you leave Dubai. Inspired by the Moroccan culture, it is a long colorful dress designed with intricate embroidery and a belt to cinch the waist. The traditional jewelry such as the necklace and headpiece are often worn with the outfit to complete the look.
The Jilabiyah can either be ready-made or custom made, giving you a wider option of style and color. To make your purchase, Bur Dubai is the place to go. Although it is expensive and can take a while for stitching if you choose to have the Jilabiyah custom made, you will surely forget about the cost when the outfit is ready!
Your trip to Dubai must have included some time at a Shisha Lounge. So why not bring home a souvenir of that memory? The Dubai Souk offers small hookahs with a wide array of shisha flavors. If you’re not interested in purchasing a real hookah, then the souk also offers mini hookahs as decoration pieces for affordable prices.
15. Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab
Did you even go to Dubai if you didn’t bring back a souvenir of the tallest building in the world? Dubai cannot be better represented than the Burj Khalifa. The price of souvenirs inside the skyscraper however are generally expensive. Luckily, Burj Khalifa merchandise can be found nearly anywhere in Dubai for much reasonable prices.
Things like mint tins, keychains, mugs, and mini Burj Khalifa towers are ubiquitous. In fact, while you’re picking up the glass model, you should also purchase a similar one of the Burj Al Arab, the second most famous building in UAE and the only 7-star hotel in the world. These souvenirs from Dubai are great to give out as gifts!
16. Sand Art
Sand Art is a unique souvenir to bring home from Dubai. After all, if you’re coming to a region with an abundance of sand, it’s only wise that you take some home with you! Artisans level the colored sand with precision into the bottle to create the design in mind.
In Dubai, sand art usually incorporates camels or some aspect of the desert. However, you can also have the souvenir custom made with your name written in the bottle. It is a good value for the price, but that means it can only be found at specific locations such as Dubai Mall, Dubai souk, or other high-end areas of Dubai.
Henna is a natural dye applied on to the hands, hair and feet. Women in the Emirates apply alluring henna deigns for religious and social events. Henna can be thought of as a temporary tattoo which explains its appeal to many. If you’re willing to practicing your henna skills at home, head over to any supermarket in Dubai where the cone can be found for a great price. Beginners at henna can even find henna stickers to guide them through the application.
Pearls are not only a great souvenir to purchase from Dubai, but a remembrance to the historic aspect of the UAE. Essentially, pearl diving was the stepping stone that led to the development of the country. Today, the UAE’s pearls are recognized internationally and are even used in well-known brands such as Cartier.
Needless to say, this souvenir from Dubai isn’t cheap and can only be found in particular places such as the Dubai Gold Souk or Dubai Mall, but it is a luxurious and historic token to take home.
Lanterns hold a religious significance in UAE’s culture. Like most Muslim countries, it is traditionally lit up at the start of the month of Ramadan. The lantern however doesn’t just appear in the holy month; often, people decorate their homes and driveways with the ornament.
The traditional lantern is quite simple and probably not as lavish as you might have expected. Fortunately, Dubai souks also offer a variety of lanterns imported from Turkey that are far more colorful and vibrant.
20. Persian Carpets
Persian influence can be seen throughout the UAE, particularly in the souvenir stores. A local favorite is the Persian carpets that come in the range of color combinations and styles. Of course, sizes vary. If you don’t have the space in your suitcase, you can find a Persian rug just as elegant to fit in your hand-carry. And if you don’t have space in your hand-carry, then you can always pick up a Persian rug bookmark! The idea is to not leave without the Persian souvenir from Dubai.
If you’re adamant about purchasing the carpet, you could head over to the Dubai souk. However, a better bet would be to purchase it from the Iran Pavilion at Global Village. The prices will be sky-high, but it is authentic!
21. Pashmina Shawl
The Pashmina Shawl takes up a great amount of space in the stores of Dubai’s Textile Souk. It is one of the most demanded souvenirs imported from Asia given its quality of material. Diverse patterns of the Pashmina Shawl leave locals purchasing it in bulks to match with their outfits. These are expensive souvenirs from Dubai, but definitely worth the quality.
22. Ceramic products
Another international handicraft that crowds the souvenir shops of Dubai are the ceramic platters from Iran and Turkey. Despite its foreign origin, they do a great job at grabbing the attention of tourists in the stores. It is a reflection of the traditional art of both countries that understandably does well overseas.
The plates, bowls, and coasters are painted with elaborate designs unique from one another but stand out individually, so much so that it makes one blind to the cost.
An Emirati’s idea of relaxation is to sit in the Majlis and share stories over Qahwah. The Majlis is a sitting area, but unlike a regular sofa, it is placed on the floor. Don’t doubt its comfort, Emirates may argue that it is far more relaxing than your coach! Its traditional colors are deep red patterned with green and black shapes.
Although the entire set may not be a practical souvenir to take home, the cushions and hand rest are sufficient to meet your comfort.
24. Canes and Drums
The cane is an important part of the traditional Emirati dance. Emirati men stand together in neat rows singing cultural songs and raising their canes. As they move synchronously, the drummers step in with their instrument. Compared to most cultures, this is a relatively relaxed dance with common props.
The cane is a standard object, but the drum on the other hand comes in different forms such as the Doumbek, Daf, and Al Ras, the largest drum. These souvenirs from Dubai will most likely be found in the souk, varying in size, including the form of a keychain!
25. Spice Souk
Given your frequent visits to the souk, you might as well leave with some spices too. The Dubai Spice Souk has a variety of spices of the highest quality imported from Iran, India, and China. The colorful mountains of flavors look spectacular in photos and taste even better in the food!
Best places to buy souvenirs in Dubai
If you’re searching for places to collect Dubai souvenirs, it is important to be smart about where you make your purchases from. Prices fluctuate greatly depending on where you are, so before you open your wallet to pay a ridiculous sum, you might want to continue reading.
The Dubai souk is divided into different sections for different purposes. Gold and pearl shopping can be done in the Dubai Gold Souk. It is difficult to miss given the lines of gleaming stores. Inside, skilled consultants can advise you on what to look for.
Moving on to the Dubai Textile Souk, you will find all sorts of fabrics and readymade clothes including Pashmina shawls, Abayas, Kandooras, and Jalabiyas. The great thing about this souk is that you can bargain for the price you deem suitable. If you have simply purchased the material, a visit to a nearby tailor will prepare the item of clothing within days. However, if you’re reluctant on purchasing readymade clothes from the souk but are willing to pay extra for better quality, the boutiques in Dubai Mall are a great alternative.
When it comes to whole sale shopping, the Dubai Spice Souk is a great stop. Here you can choose from the selection of coffees, spices, henna, and dates without a doubt in the quality. Like the textile souk, you can hassle for the amount you’re willing to pay.
The final section is the Perfume Souk, a line of stores in a sea of fragrance. The genuine Arabian Oud and perfume worn by Emiratis can be found here. This is also the place to select traditional Mabkharahs and Bakhoors which are presented in bulks. Expect great prices, but with a little bit of bargaining.
Other souvenirs such as the ceramic plates, hookahs, instruments, and lanterns are categorized as miscellaneous, hence they don’t belong to a specific souk. Instead, they are randomly included in most stores.
The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world. Needless to say, you want to leave with something to remember. If you have extra cash on on the side, head over to Fashion Avenue where you can indulge in all sorts of luxury such as clothes, shoes, bags, and chocolates. If you’re still searching for the traditional wear, branded Abayas and Jalabiyas are located in the Dubai Mall.
There are also souvenir stores and kiosks inside the mall for quick shopping. However, do not fall into the trap of purchasing all your souvenirs from the mall. The prices are extremely expensive for most items that can be found elsewhere in Dubai for half the amount. Rather, use this opportunity to buy Dubai souvenirs from the world’s largest Candylicious or the indoor aquarium.
Dubai Souvenir Shops
The trick to smart souvenir shopping in Dubai is to stay away from stores that say souvenirs. Instead, go to the nearest discount centers, which sounds something along the lines of 1-20 Dirham shop, where you can purchase cheap Dubai souvenirs in quantities. Things like camel gifts and Burj Khalifa merchandise come in a variety of forms including magnets, mugs, keychains, pens, models, and more. These stores have affordable prices and are perfect to buy in abundance for gifts. Of course, don’t expect traditional items such as the ones in the souks; these stores are simply for everyday shopping and general souvenirs at a low price.
Dubai Duty Free
The Dubai Duty Free is the last stop to make final purchases of souvenirs. The best thing about this place is that it provides a variety of souvenirs despite the fact that it is in an airport. Of course, ordinary Dubai souvenirs such as mugs and magnets will be more expensive than usual, but it is still a great opportunity to pick up last-minute gifts.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
The Souk Madinat Jumeriah is located in the higher end of Dubai known as Jumeirah. Its gorgeous architecture and scenery makes strolling and browsing in the souk enjoyable. While the prices in most stores are fixed, you can certainly find yourself some great souvenirs such as handmade jewelry, bags, and ornaments. However, despite its beautiful setting, most people tend to prefer the Dubai Souk or discount centers as their main source of souvenirs.
There you have it! These souvenirs from Dubai are truly unique and mostly inexpensive to take back home. They are great for buying in abundance as gifts and individually hold a distinctive backstory. Even so, souvenirs like the Abaya and Bakhoor can be used in your daily life and also serve to remind you of your visit to the UAE.