The Dubai Gold Souk sparks the imagination. If you plan on visiting only one souk in Dubai, then make it this one. It’s so different from the many glamorous Dubai must-sees that make headlines and the skyscrapers, the Burj Khalifa for one, that shape the skyline. The Gold Market is located in Old Dubai, a bit away from the area where you’ll be staying in Dubai, but very much worth the detour. It’s a testimony of the rich history of trade that hides behind Dubai’s glitzy surface. Whether you’re looking to visit the Gold Souk in Dubai out of curiosity or rather with an intent to buy a unique piece, it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience that deserves a spot on your Dubai itinerary. Let’s find out exactly what makes the Dubai Gold Souk so worth-while, how to navigate it and how to seal a glimmering deal.
Choose the scenic route to the Gold Souk in Dubai
The Dubai Gold Souk is located in Deira, one of the areas that make up the Old Town. Deira is located across the Dubai Creek from Bur Dubai. The most fitting way to arrive to these traditional Dubai souks in Deira is by abra. These traditional boats cross the Creek since the old days, moving both trading goods and merchants to and from the Dubai Gold Souk and other markets. It’s a tradition that’s still very much alive.
Some abras are now equipped to transport passengers, residents and locals alike. For just AED 1, you can take the abra from and to one of the abra stations. One vessel can accommodate about 20 people and so you might have to wait a bit before you can hop on. You cross the creek in no more than 5 minutes while taking in the scenic views. It’s a wonderful experience with a hint of Old Dubai and especially enchanting at sunset.
Upon arrival at the Deira Old Souk Abra Station, you cross Baniyas Road and follow Old Al Baladiya Street until you reach the Dubai Gold Market. The Deira souks can be a maze but there are signposts to point you in the right direction.
Of course, you can also reach the Gold Souk in Deira by taxi. Drivers know this place very well. Alternatively, you can take the metro (green line) to Al Ras metro station. Both these options might be convenient, but they lack the charm of the scenic route by abra.
Ultimate guide to the Dubai Gold Souk
Dubai Gold Souk opening hours
The Gold Souk is open every day from 10 am (except on Fridays, when it opens at 4 pm) to 10 pm. Evenings tend to be the busiest moment to visit.
What to expect from a visit to the Dubai Gold Market
If you plan on visiting only one Dubai souk, then make it this one. Spice souks and grand bazaars can be found in many cities, think of The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Djemaa el Fnaa and Medina Souk in Marrakech, the Muttrah Souk in Oman and the Souk Waqif in Doha. But the Dubai Gold Souk is the only one of its kind in the world.
With over 300 retailers lining the covered walkways and neighboring streets, the Gold Market of Dubai is as bustling as any other souk. The only difference is that all merchandise is kept inside the stores so there are less vendors in the streets. Also, they are fully aware that some of the visitors merely enter their store out of curiosity so they’re not insistent. You’re free to take pictures of the jewels unless there’s a no-photograph sign on the window.
The merchandise on display ranges from rings and earrings, bracelets and necklaces to out-of-this-world wearables and extravagant bridal jewelry. The level of craftmanship is unparalleled. And yes, all that shines in the Dubai Gold Souk really is gold. From intricate to opulent designs, the deep yellow precious metal is all around. It’s a magnificent sight.
If you’re looking for an investment rather than a jewel, then you’ll be happy to learn that gold coins and bars are also available.
Understanding the price structure at the Dubai Gold Souk
If you intend to buy a Dubai souvenir or gift at the Gold Souk, then reserve enough time because comparing the head-spinning number of gold jewels does take some effort. The Dubai Gold Souk is strictly regulated so you can rest assured that you are buying the real deal. Caratage varies between 18k and 24k. The price of the jewelry on display is the sum of the market price for that specific caratage and the price for the craftmanship.
Make sure to do your research on gold, so that you come across as well-informed. A good site to discover the basics is this one. Also, look up the gold rate of the day beforehand. You can find it here, it’s listed by caratage and per gram. Note that this price is non-negotiable. It’s also listed inside the shop. Although it might be slightly higher when you visit one of the more prominently located Dubai Gold Souk shops, it should’n really vary too much.
The price for the craftmanship is not regulated and therefore negotiable. And rest assured that the prices on display do include a generous margin. That’s what makes the Gold Market in Dubai the best place in the world to buy excellent quality gold at competitive prices.
Ask the vendor to weigh the item of your choice, then multiply that weight by the market price that’s displayed for that caratage. Deduct that amount from the total sum and you know what is being charged for the making costs. Et voilà, you’re all set to start haggling at the Deira Gold Souk.
Obviously, when there’s no craftmanship involved, there’s no room to negotiate. So, for coins and bars you’ll be paying market prices.
Ready… Set… Haggle!
Enter the shop, greet the shopkeeper with a friendly marhabaan or as-salam alaykum and look around for a bit. Keep a poker-face when spotting an item that you like and, when the vendor approaches you, tell him that you might be looking for something similar. Make him understand that you only intend to buy when the price is right.
Have the vendor weigh the item of your choice so that you can determine the price for craftmanship and base for negotiation. Ask the vendor for his very best price before countering his offer. To calculate your counter, take the sum of the actual carat value and about a third to half of the price of craftmanship. And so the haggling game begins. Be prepared to spend quite some time in the shop in order to score a deal.
Enjoy the process and stay kind and respectful at any time. And when the price you had in mind seems out of reach, then thank the vendor for his time. He might just make a final offer right before you reach the door.
Other tips to score a good deal at the Dubai Gold Souk are looking out for smaller shops just off the main street and paying in cash rather than by credit card.
Getting your VAT refunded
Since 2018, the United Arab Emirates imposes a 5% tax on all items purchased, including gold. But did you know that you can get most of the VAT refunded for qualifying purchases that you made during your Dubai trip? That includes gold bought at the Dubai Gold Souk. Here’s how it works:
Double-check with the merchant if he participates in the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme or look out for a sign on the window. At check-out, the storekeeper will scan your passport before entering your details in the VAT refund system and labeling your purchase with a tax free tag. Keep your receipt because you’ll need it at the airport.
Before check-in, head to the UAE VAT Refund counter or self-service kiosk in the departure hall. Enter the details from your purchase as well as your personal and flight details. The refund will then be credited to your credit card or, only if you reach a certain amount, issued in cash.
Note that you can only get the VAT refunded if you exit the UAE within 90 days of your purchase.
Importing gold from Dubai into your home country
While wearing the gold that you bought at the arrival hall of the airport may not be the best thing to do upon arrival, it’s the cost-effective way to go. Of course, when you bought coins, elaborate head pieces or decadent wearables then you’ll have to declare them and, in some cases, pay duty taxes.
Regulations on import taxes vary by country. For your convenience, we’ve researched the links to the custom authorities for some specific countries and regions. Click here for the USA, here for the UK, here for India and here for the EU.
Visiting the Dubai Gold Souk individually or booking a guided tour?
Old Dubai is just as safe as any other place in this glamorous Emirate but visiting the Gold Souk Market in Dubai is quite an intensive experience. Some feel comfortable enough to navigate their way through the souk and bargain a deal while others are a bit more hesitant to dive in.
Are you looking to buy gold? Does immersing yourself in an overwhelming atmosphere come natural to you? And do you master the art of haggling or are you ready to give it a try? Then you’re good to visit on your own. We’d even encourage you to because nothing is more rewarding than letting your eyes lead you and negotiating a sweet deal on your own piece of glimmering gold.
But if you feel like this might be a bit out of your comfort zone and you easy feel overwhelmed, then you might just as well visit the Dubai Gold Souk as part of a group tour. Or, if you hope to buy gold but aren’t up to haggling without an expert by your side, you might opt for a personal tour. The advantage of a tour is that you’ll learn more about the history of the gold market trade in Dubai.
Here are some tour suggestions:
- Private Tour with Locals – Highlights & Hidden Gems: This 3-hour private guided tour will take you to see the Dubai Creek Abra Station, the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk. Your expert guide will gladly introduce you to the authentic side of Dubai. Learn about the rich heritage of Dubai’s trading district and discover how to fully experience the souks.
- Old Town, Dubai Creek, Souks, and Street Food Tour: Discover Old Dubai on a private or group tour. Cruise Dubai Creek and explore the couleur locale at the souks. Soak up the magical atmosphere, learn how to haggle at the Dubai Gold Market and indulge in mouth-watering street food.
- Old and Modern Dubai City Tour with Blue Mosque Visit: This half-day group tour will take you to see the most interesting Dubai landmarks. It includes an abra ride and visit to the Spice and Gold Markets. Your knowledgeable guide will teach you all there is to know about the dynamics at the souk.
Other places to buy gold in Dubai
While the bargaining aspect makes buying gold at the Dubai Gold Souk considerably cheaper. But if you’re looking for a more luxurious shopping experience or a customized jewel, then you might find it in the Gold and Diamond Park.
Other high-end gold jewelry brands are Joyalukkas, Damas and Damiani, all of which have several boutiques in Dubai. Malabar Gold and Diamonds is yet another iconic brand with outlets located in Al Karama and near the Dubai Museum.
Other traditional souks nearby
The Gold Souk is located in the heart of the traditional trade center. As a result, there’s a variety of other heritage souks in the direct vicinity. There’s the Spice Souk, the Perfume Souk, the Utensils Souk and the Grand Souk. And right across the Dubai Creek, there’s the Textile Souk with its colorful collections of abayas, pashminas, saris and kaftans.
Note that the vibe is a bit different in these other traditional souks. That’s because their merchandise is on display inside the store as well as outside. Therefore, the vendors are out on the streets trying to get your attention. They might be more insistent but that’s all part of the experience. Visiting these souks is a feast for the senses. It’s also an excellent way to discover some local products and learn more about the Arabian culture.
That’s it for our guide to the Dubai Gold Souk. how to get yourself a shimmering souvenir from Dubai at a very competitive price.