Dubai, while quite the visual spectacle, with almost surreal cleanliness and lack of natural vegetation, is quite the proverbial shopper’s paradise, skirted as it is with enough water bodies to give it an authentic paradise-island feel. And whereas it boasts of the best of brands, they also have a plethora of options for the less luxury-inclined.

Here’s our tried-and-tested guide to the maze that is Dubai.

BurJuman Mall, Bur Dubai

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Photo source: Burjuman

This particular mall is not as mind-numbingly large as most malls in the city—it’s big, but not intimidating {like Dubai Mall, discussed below}. Note: This mall is a wasted trip if you’re not in the headspace to OD on luxury.

The mall has one of the rare Patchi showrooms {you know chocolate is fancy as all hell when it gets a showroom instead of a purple case at a grocery store}, and if you’re looking for what to get people whose size you don’t know and who’s taste in accessories is a total mystery, this is the place to fill up those gift bags.

#LBBTip: Also worth checking out—the perfume counter at Saks Fifth Avenue in the mall for global brands as well as local kitschy ones.

Ibn Batuta Mall, Sheikh Zayed Rd

To be fair, there’s nothing you’ll find in this mall that you can’t hit up at Dubai mall or the other biggies. But it’s definitely an interesting, and, erm, heritage mall experience. A regal, throwback-to-the-monarchy kind of feel dominates the mall, with these sweet little subdivisions for every country.

So there’s an India section, a China section, a Persia court—you get the drift. You’ll also find some of the rarer high-street brands at this mall; think Bossini, Cotton On, and Dubai home-brand Splash. It’s also a good go-to for accessories, with everything from lower-end, costume-y stuff {Accessorize, Claire’s} to luxury {like Swarovski}. They also have an over-abundance of lesser known shoe brands.

Dubai Mall, Financial Centre Road, Downtown Dubai

Think about the largest mall you’ve ever been to, and now instead of that, think of a small country with fashion overlords that have acres of territory to spare; that’s Dubai Mall in a nutshell. I’d recommend a buddy system going into this place, because if you’re a Dubai noob, I can guarantee you won’t know your head from your ass here.

Intimidatingly huge, Dubai Mall is the place to go if you’re a mainstream shopper and genuinely just have the one day to shop till you literally drop from navigation, overwhelming options and exhaustion.

You will find everything—and I do indeed mean everything —here. Think of a thing in your head. Visualise it. You may have to trek to it like you’re scaling the Hindu Kush, but it’s definitely here.

#LBBTip: We would strongly recommend devoting two days to do this mall justice.

Global Village, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road

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Photo source: Global Village

A happy reprieve from all the mall business, Global Village is a cornucopia of the scents, souvenirs and spices of every country in the world. No exaggeration. It feels like every single country from Tunisia to Afghanistan has a dedicated pavilion here, and it’s glorious.

Between the leather socks, authentic dry fruit, stunning Turkish lamps, rich Arabian perfumes and baklava, you won’t know where to look first. Some of the most interesting pavilions are Egypt and Africa in the Africa section {don’t leave without picking up a traditional Jalabiya}, Spain {where olives are the main takeaway}, Turkey {Turkish delight = heaven} and Indonesia which has the most fascinating musical instruments and costumes of all.

Basically, Dubai’s reputation as a veritable shopper’s haven stands true—the only question you have to ask yourself is how much of your savings for a new car or house can you spare.

#LBBTip: January is the month of the biggest discounts, so you may want to time your visit accordingly. I strongly urge you to eat a big breakfast and wear comfy walking shoes before venturing in.

Featured photo source: Shahroozporia via Wikimedia Commons[CC BY-SA 3.0]


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