More and more tourists are heading to Abu Dhabi to peruse its boutiques and indulge in some world-class shopping. Decadent malls, charming shops and bustling markets are found throughout the UAE’s capital city, offering everything from cute holiday keyrings to exquisite Persian rugs. So from sprawling shopping centers to rustic town marketplaces, here’s our guide on where to shop successfully in the Middle Eastern gem of Abu Dhabi.
With over 200 stores, cinemas and amusements, the Abu Dhabi Mall redefines what it means to be a world-class shopping establishment. Opened in 2001, it offers a wide selection of local specialties such as perfumes, nuts and Arabic sweets, and is an extravaganza of restaurants, high-end shops and designer boutiques. For an excellent sweet-craving fix take a visit to the Bateel Dates shop, offering a delicious selection of gourmet chocolates, delectable dates and superb pastries.
Located in one of the most beautiful areas of the city, along the breakwater on Corniche road, the Yas Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi is home to more than 400 international fashion, leisure and entertainment stores. And if shopping isn’t your thing, no problem; want to go ice-skating? Ride on a roller coaster or catch a Hollywood hit? The venue is home to a mid-sized ice rink, a bowling alley, a multiplex movie complex, roller coaster rides and musical fountains, making it a spectacular establishment providing more fun than you can shake a stick at. Enjoy the breathtaking view of the sea and cityscape here in one of the many chic restaurants boasting killer vistas from the sky tower.
If you’re a shopper seeking all the major fashion houses combined with smaller, top-quality boutique stores, then the best place to head to is Avenue at Etihad. Here you’ll find items oozing exclusivity and opulence as well as personalized service and bespoke tailoring. Set over two floors and covering an area of 13,814 square meters, Avenue at Etihad Towers is part of the world-class, mixed-use Etihad Towers development, bringing the very latest fashion trends to both men and women, albeit with sometimes astonishingly dear pricetags.
If you want to keep up with what’s hot in Europe whilst in the Middle East, head to Paris Avenue. This is a shopping area brimming with international designers, many of whom are young, up-and-coming fashion graduates looking for a big break in the Middle Eastern market. The lack of big-name brands here means bargains are much more easy to acquire, as top trends and the latest styles are offered for easily affordable prices. All of the items are unique, with most being handmade.
The Galleria is one of the most elegant buildings recently constructed in Abu Dhabi, featuring a stunning curved roof made of glass, and full with only the most sophisticated and stylish luxury brands. Day and night The Galleria is alive with activity as shoppers explore the wide selection of fashion, jewelry and watches available for purchase. Restaurants here serve up every conceivable cuisine to a hungry crowd, and year-round festivals entertain customers on every shopping trip.
Built in the same spot as Abu Dhabi’s first souk, a traditional Arabic open-air market, Souk Central Market is a bustling shopping area offering charming antiques, perfumes and cute handicrafts. Although still exuding an authentic atmosphere, features of modernity are evident here among the tapestries and the haggling, such as stained glass windows and wood lattice furnishings as well as the indoor setting. Princess Nails here offer the top manicures and pedicures in town.
The Middle East is renowned for its exceptional, vibrant and patterned carpets, and you’ll find no better selection than the one in the Carpet Souk of Abu Dhabi. Whether searching for traditional tapestries, unique designs or colorful creations, the carpet center has over 4000 rugs spread over three floors, the most sought after of which being the hand-loomed kilims, or tribal rugs. Check out their website here for a detailed buyers guide on how to select a carpet.
The United Arab Emirates is known for its gold shops, with precious stones, pearls and gold being regularly sold here, markers of the grandeur and affluence of this Middle Eastern metropolis. Madinat Zayed Gold Center is a bustling base of all things gold in Abu Dhabi, the only venue of its kind in the region, with more than 70 jewelry stores offering traditional and contemporary gold, diamond and pearl jewelry from across the globe. If planning to purchase rather than simply peruse, it’s recommended to check the price of gold online before you buy.
For eager shoppers searching for homeware, items including pillows, pottery and imported Iranian bed spreads, right by the harbor’s picturesque edge you’ll find the Iranian Souk of Abu Dhabi. It boasts a huge collection of stalls where buyers will find handmade wickerware and traditional copper coffee pots, as well as intricately woven tapestries and traditional Middle Eastern fare. It’s worth going in the morning, as by mid-afternoon the crowds can be extremely daunting, and don’t forget to haggle for your bargains or you may pay over the odds.
Sustainable shopping isn’t exactly synonymous with The Emirates, but the Women’s Handicraft Centre is trying to change that. This government-run center showcases textile weaving, spinning, embroidery, basketry and traditional silver-thread needlework, all of which are traditional crafts of the region. You’ll have to request permission before taking photographs, but buyers are bound to find great homemade gifts and souvenirs here, authentic and historic creations which can’t be found anywhere else.