As synonymous with handbag and watch salesmen as it is excellent budget Indian and Pakistani restaurants, Karama is the ultimate place for shopping and scoffing on a shoestring. But it’s not all about the main Karama Souk area, housing swathes of leather bag shops and dotted with cafeterias well worth visiting – you need to hit Kuwait Road too (between Za’abeel Road and Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Road) for yet more great buys and eats.
Al Attar Centre
This small, shiny shopping mall sits slap-bang in the middle of Kuwait Street, and houses a range of tiny shops and kiosks selling everything from colourful smartphone covers to hair accessories, affordable clothing to tasty Filipino snacks. There are also a couple of casual eateries inside specialising in Asian cuisine.
Kuwait Street (no number).
The largest and smartest of the small chain’s restaurants, this decades-old Indian eatery is as popular as ever, particularly on a Friday lunchtime, when the kitchen’s efforts are tested, firing out rich, fragrant dishes such as dabba gosht and chana masala. Mop it all up with a stretchy, doughy roomali roti for a truly memorable mealtime, all for Dhs50.
Za’abeel Road, opposite Karama Post Office (04 334 7171).
If you came to Dubai for the bargain handbags, this is where you should be heading. Pick up leather goods in a huge range of different colours and styles – but be sure to visit a few shops before parting with your cash, as prices for the same items can vary wildly. Do also keep an eye out for the smaller shops selling pashminas in a variety of qualities (from Dhs10 to Dhs500 apiece) and small souvenirs.
18B Street (no number).
Karama Fish Market
Pick up fresh and affordable produce at this market. Don’t be put off by the sometimes jumbled seafood display – there’s an enormous range of fresh fish, crabs and cephalopods available, and most stallholders will clean your purchases for you.
End of 18B Street, inside Karama Market (no number).
Like many restaurants of its kind, Keerthi’s staff will try and whisk you upstairs if you have women or kids in your company, but sit downstairs to people-watch through the window while you tuck in. While the lunch and dinner options are just as good, it’s hard to beat the short but delicious breakfast menu, which features dosas, appam and omelettes to name but a few, all for less than Dhs10 each.
Kuwait Street (04 335 7171).
You could easily miss this hidden Rajasthani gem in Karama, with its deceptively unspecial exterior. Inside, however, is a delightfully homely, cosy eatery with saffron-coloured walls and handmade Indian murals and lampshades hanging from the walls and ceiling. The focus is on vegetarian cuisine, but there are plenty of non-veg options too, and while it’s by no means the cheapest eatery in the neighbourhood, it’s worth dropping by.
Corner of 47C Street, behind Za’abeel Road (04 336 8332).
Grab a snack from this across-the-road competitor to the famous Al Reef bakery. In addition to huge and variety manakish, the Lebanese restaurant and café also does a mean shawarma, plus mixed grills, mezze and bakery items including sweet milk bread filled with dates.
Near Karama Post Office, Za’abeel Road (04 336 9994).