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UAE Shopping Guide

The UAE is home to a host of fantastic shopping experiences, from modern malls and outlet centres, to traditional souqs and flea markets. The variety of outlets in the country provides shoppers with plenty of opportunities to spend their money on whatever they want - whether it’s electronics, clothes, jewellery or anything else that takes your fancy. However, there are several unique challenges when it comes to shopping in the UAE. There are also a few things you should know before you shop here. This guide will give you all the information you need as a savvy shopper: from VAT refunds to market opening hours, so that your next trip doesn’t feel like such a daunting prospect.

VAT and tax

VAT (value added tax) exists in the UAE, so you will have to pay this on any new goods you plan to purchase. This will, of course, increase the price of your goods, so you may want to wait until the end of your trip to buy anything new. You can find out the exact amount of VAT you’ll have to pay by checking the price of the goods with the retailer. Alternatively, you can use this calculator to find out how much you’ll have to pay. There is also a 5% import tax on certain goods arriving into the UAE, so be sure to keep this in mind if you’re planning to buy goods to bring home with you. If you’re planning to buy goods worth more than AED1000, you may be asked to show a tax invoice. You can present this in the form of a printout or by showing the seller your e-receipt on your phone. There is an additional 10% federal sales tax (FED) that will also have to be paid on certain goods. This will apply to luxury goods, such as alcohol, tobacco and gold. FED will also be applied to goods with a low value.

Shopping hours

The standard shopping hours in the UAE are from 10am to 10pm, seven days a week. This applies to every shopping centre and bazaar you’ll come across during your trip. Most malls, however, will have special late-night shopping hours for a couple of evenings a week. You can find out more about the specific shopping hours of your chosen centre by visiting their website or checking the centre’s social media accounts. You’ll also find that many malls and shopping centres have a weekend entrance policy, meaning that you won’t be allowed to enter with your hand luggage. Check the entrance policy of your chosen centre before you visit so that you don’t get caught out.

Shopping centres and Malls

There are many fantastic shopping centres and malls across the UAE, catering to all tastes and budgets. You can find anything from high-end designer boutiques to outlet centres packed with discounted items. There are plenty of malls that are home to big-name brands and luxury shopping outlets, but there are also plenty of family-friendly malls that offer affordable shopping for all. You can also find malls specialising in food and entertainment - perfect for families looking for something to do while they’re on holiday. One thing to remember is that most malls will not have an indoor play area for children or a designated nursery. If you’re bringing young children with you to the UAE, you’ll need to find a mall that has facilities for kids. Another thing to keep in mind is that many malls stop allowing you to use your hand luggage once the stores have closed. Make sure you plan ahead so you can finish your shopping before closing time.

Souqs and bazaars

If you’re interested in traditional shopping, you may want to visit a souq or bazaar during your trip. Souqs are traditional marketplaces that have existed in the region for centuries. To this day, many remain a popular tourist attraction. There are plenty of souqs that sell a wide range of goods, from jewellery and clothes to spices and souvenirs. You may also come across a few traditional Emirati souqs, which sell a variety of items made by local artisans, such as camel milk and traditional sweets. If you want to visit a souq or bazaar, make sure you visit one that is safe and clean. You’ll find that some souqs are better self-regulated than others when it comes to hygiene, so always check reviews before you visit. Remember that you’ll have to bargain at souqs and bazaars, so don’t be too quick to judge the prices you see. You can get a better bargain if you’re willing to haggle.

Flea Markets

If you’re looking for a more traditional flea market experience, you’ll find a few in the UAE. These markets are made up of small stalls selling a wide range of goods. The majority of flea markets sell second-hand clothes and furniture - which makes them great places to find items for your home and wardrobe for a cheap price. Flea markets can be found across the country, but the most popular ones are in Dubai. You can find flea markets in Dubai Marina, Deira and Bur Dubai.
Shopping in the UAE is a must-do activity for any traveller. The country offers a wide variety of shopping experiences, so you’re guaranteed to find something that interests you. However, there are also a few unique challenges associated with shopping in the UAE. You can reduce these challenges by remembering a few key things: shopping hours, shopping centres and malls, souqs and bazaars, and flea markets. Now you’re all set to start shopping in the UAE!

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