Shopping Hacks for the Savvy Traveler in the UAE

The UAE is a shopper’s paradise, offering everything from luxurious malls to bustling traditional souks. However, navigating the shopping landscape can be overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors. To help you get the most out of your dirham, we’ve compiled a list of shopping hacks that will make your experience both enjoyable and economical.

1. Timing is Everything

Visit During Sales and Festivals

The UAE hosts several shopping festivals throughout the year, such as the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and the Abu Dhabi Shopping Festival. These events offer massive discounts, promotions, and raffles, making it the perfect time to splurge.

Shop During Off-Peak Hours

Shopping during weekdays or early in the morning can help you avoid crowds and take advantage of less busy times when store staff can offer more personalized assistance.

2. Explore a Variety of Shopping Venues

Luxury Malls

Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are known for their extensive range of high-end brands and luxury shopping experiences. Even if you’re on a budget, these malls often have sales and outlet stores.

Traditional Souks

For a more authentic experience, visit traditional markets like the Gold Souk, Spice Souk, and Textile Souk in Dubai, or the Central Market in Abu Dhabi. Bargaining is expected here, so don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price.

3. Take Advantage of Tax-Free Shopping

One of the biggest advantages of shopping in the UAE is the lack of sales tax. This means that the price you see is the price you pay, making luxury items more affordable than in many other parts of the world.

4. Utilize Discount Apps and Coupons

Several apps and websites offer discounts and coupons for shopping in the UAE. Apps like The Entertainer, Groupon, and Fazaa provide deals on a wide range of products and services, from dining to retail.

5. Consider Outlet Shopping

Dubai Outlet Mall and The Outlet Village offer significant discounts on high-end brands. These malls feature a variety of stores selling last season’s collections at reduced prices, making it a great way to score designer items without breaking the bank.

6. Know When to Splurge and When to Save

Splurge on Unique Items

Invest in items that are unique to the region, such as Persian rugs, Arabic perfumes, and gold jewelry. These items often hold their value and can be a great way to bring a piece of the UAE back home with you.

Save on Everyday Goods

For everyday items, visit hypermarkets like Carrefour and Lulu Hypermarket. These stores offer competitive prices on groceries, electronics, and household goods.

7. Stay Updated on Exchange Rates

Keeping an eye on exchange rates can help you maximize your spending power. Use currency converter apps to check rates regularly and exchange money when the rates are favorable.

8. Leverage Loyalty Programs

Many stores and malls in the UAE have loyalty programs that offer rewards points for every purchase. Sign up for these programs to earn points that can be redeemed for discounts or free items.

9. Make Use of Tourist Refund Schemes

The UAE offers a VAT refund scheme for tourists. Ensure you shop at stores that are part of the scheme, and don’t forget to claim your refund at the airport before you depart.

10. Enjoy Complimentary Services

Take advantage of complimentary services offered by malls, such as shuttle buses, delivery services, and personal shopping assistants. These services can enhance your shopping experience and provide added convenience.

11. Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks

Shopping in the UAE can be an all-day affair. Stay hydrated and take breaks to avoid fatigue. Most malls have plenty of dining options, so take advantage of these to relax and recharge.


Shopping in the UAE can be a rewarding experience if you know the right strategies. By visiting during sales, exploring a variety of shopping venues, and utilizing discount apps and loyalty programs, you can maximize your dirham and enjoy a memorable shopping spree. Whether you’re splurging on luxury items or saving on everyday goods, these hacks will help you navigate the UAE’s shopping scene like a savvy traveler.

For more information on shopping in the UAE, visit Visit Dubai and Visit Abu Dhabi.

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