The Spice Souk is one of Dubai’s last truly active outdoor markets. Elbow your way through the crowds and take in the captivating palette of sights and smells on display. Foodies and photographers will particularly relish this unique sensory experience. Sample local delicacies, trawl through hand-made jewelry and absorb the atmosphere.
A “souk” is an Arabian market, similar to a Persian bazaar. Dubai’s souks are renowned for being colorful, noisy and engrossing. The Dubai Spice Souk is made up of a series of narrow lanes lined with stores, some with open roofs and some closed off. It is located right by Khor Dubai (Dubai Creek), where merchants from the East used to dock their boats and immediately began to haggle over goods.
The popularity of Dubai’s souks has declined over time, largely due to the rise of supermarkets. At the Spice Souk, however, the market is alive and well. You can buy traditional fare such as spices, silks and perfumes, as well as souvenirs and children’s toys.
As you walk down the Spice Souk’s narrow lanes, take in the vivid piles of spices. Familiar household staples like cinnamon sticks and curry powder nestle in among esoteric spices, dried fruits, nuts and all kinds of flowers for herbal teas.
Keep an eye out for varieties of shisha tobacco as well as incenses and perfumes, all of which contribute to the souk’s intoxicating aroma. If you are hunting for souvenirs, textiles and pottery might be more customs-friendly options.
The Dubai Spice Souk is located in the Al Ras area of Deira, right next to the Dubai Gold Souk. It is easily accessible by public transport or by taxi. Try to visit in the morning or the evening as the heat in the middle of the day can be oppressive and some stalls close around lunchtime. Dress modestly, practice your bargaining skills and enjoy this authentic market experience.