Shopping ethically in Dubai

From clothes to books, where to give something back when you buy

Area Guides

Benita Adesuyan reports on how you can spend less and give more by visiting the city’s thrift shops.

Visitors from around the world come to Dubai to shop in its huge malls, especially during bargain fiestas like Dubai Shopping Festival, which runs until February 2 across the city. But there is an alternative way to get your retail fix – and give back to a good cause at the same time.

Dotted around town are thrift shops where you can rummage for second-hand clothes, toys, gifts and furniture at cut prices and know that the money you spend goes towards good causes and supports the community.

What’s more, shopping the thrifty way is a two-way process: not only is your purchase helping a local cause and those in need, but you can also actively donate any of your unwanted stuff to the shops to sell on.

For clothes

Dubai Center for Special Needs
This shop not only sells clothes and household goods but it also acts as a training and vocation centre for some of the young people and adults with special needs that use the facilities. The shop is located behind Choitrams in Karama, and is well worth seeking out for cheap outfits and shoes. Real bargain lovers should visit on the first Friday of every month, when they hold a market sale and goods are marked down by a further 50 percent.
Sat-Thu 9.30am-1pm, 4pm-8pm, Friday market sales on first Fri of every month 9.30am-12.30pm. DCSN Charity Shop, behind Choitrams, Karama, (04 344 0966).

For books

House of Prose
The UAE’s oldest second-hand bookstore hasn’t been affected by the rise of e-book readers – it seems the literati still love the feel of paper and the musty aroma of an old book. House of Prose stocks more than 40,000 titles, and pre-loved books in good condition can be bought for as little as Dhs3. The shop offers a money-back option when you return the books you’ve read, so the virtuous cycle of shared reading continues.
Open daily 9am-9pm. Dubai Garden Centre, near Gold & Diamond Park, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 340 0006). Other location: Jumeirah Plaza, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 9021).

For bric-a-brac

The Maria Christina Foundation
The Maria Christina Foundation, rasies money for people living in extreme poverty in the slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The foundation has a drop-off point on Sheikh Zayed Road accepting any item that is easy to carry. Thrifty shoppers can then buy the donated items from Maria’s stall at Safa Park Flea Market on a Friday. All proceeds from market sales are used to help underprivileged children.
Dhs3 entry to the park. Dubai Flea Market, Safa Park, Al Wasl. Maria Cristina Foundation, 154 Sky Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, (04-386 0087).

For household goods

Holy Trinity Thrift Shop
The Holy Trinity Centre has been running for more than 20 years in Dubai and is an offshoot of the services provided by the Holy Trinity Church. The shop sells a wide range of second hand goods including furniture, home accessories, as well as books and shoes all at bargain prices. Holy Trinity is happy to receive volunteer requests as well as donations.
Thu-Sun 10am-1pm, 5.30pm-7.30pm, Wed 10am-1pm. Holy Trinity Church, Oud Metha Street, near Iranian Club (04 337 4947).

For coffee

Book N Bean
A good book and a warm drink is bliss, and bibliophiles can combine both at Book N Bean. It sells used titles from as little as Dhs25. It also has a good returns policy so if you don’t want to keep the book, you can return it, and get half your money back, and if it’s a new book, you’ll get 25 percent of your money back. There’s a loyalty card, too, if you buy nine books and/or coffees, you get the tenth cup of coffee free.
Open daily 10am-10pm. Book N Bean, located inside Ace Hardware, Dubai Festival City. (04 232 6992).

For handmade arts, crafts and jewellery

Al Noor Smiles ’n’ Stuff
Al Noor is an organisation dedicated to helping people with special needs. It runs a Vocational Training Unit where children develop skills in carpentry, printing and textiles, and at its shop in Al Barsha, all this handiwork is on sale.
Al Noor Centre for Special Needs, Al Barsha, behind Mall of the Emirates, Sat-Thu 8am-2pm, 3pm-6pm (04 341 8960).

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