Agatha Paris: This French jewellery line offers something a little different. The store is jam-packed with sophisticated timepieces, as well as retro bangles and shimmery disco necklaces.
Azal: Don’t expect a deal, but do expect some breathtaking, one-of-a-kind jewellery from the likes of Gucci, UK designer Stephen Webster and US jeweller Judith Ripka.
Bauhaus: If you like your fashion with a dose of irony, head to this hipster haven. There are trucker hats, embroidered denim and music with listening stations.
Marami Boutique: You’ll find cute jewellery and sexy clutches at this Dubai Mall store, with brands ranging from Zufi Alexander and Lara Bohinc to Sang A. TV fans may spot pieces from Gossip Girl and Sex and the City (and if it’s good enough for SJP, it’s certainly good enough to grace Time Out’s wardrobe). Among our favourite items are the super flashy A-Morir by Kerin Rose sunglasses, which hang from a gold chain. How bling can you get?
Boom & Mellow: Ideal for one-of-a-kind jewellery and bags. Chunky necklaces drape temptingly from silver pegs, and crystal-encrusted earrings sparkle alluringly behind glass cabinets.
Dolly Rockers Vintage: Excellent vintage pieces, especially in the accessories department. Super-cute elastic belts, leather purses and jewellery are all on offer.
Manolo Blahnik: These super-high-end shoes get no end of love in Dubai. We adore the designs and the one-of-a-kind store interiors (created by Blahnik’s niece).
Melange: This large accessory store has some exceptional jewellery finds, with a strong focus on Indian trinkets. The best part? It’s very affordable.
Oasis Fashion: Oasis has dresses and accessories, but it’s the hats that make it a must-visit during Dubai World Cup. They’ll even design something from scratch.
Wrist: Stocks tons of cool watches, including numberless pieces from Nooka Zon. We love the timepiece that flicks the reminder that ‘someday you will die’.
11-16 Art and hobbies
Craft Land: For the most part, Dubai’s crafters haven’t had much luck beyond the Bastakiya textile souk or the fabric stores that dot Satwa. Sure, buying fabric hasn’t been a problem, but the other nuances of sewing have been hard to come by. Enter Craft Land, which sells a range of buttons, trims, patterns and wool for knitting, as well as how-to books. It’s the first of its kind in Dubai and we’re thankful to have it.
Creative Arts Centre: This lively space sells fine art, crafts and high-quality antiques sourced from Oman. It’s particularly good for Bedouin silver and heavy wood furniture.
Dubai Garden Centre: Green-fingered residents will think they’ve died and gone to heaven at this huge plant shop. This store is awash with foliage and bubbling water features – even those not adept at gardening would do well to visit for a dose of greenery. While prices can be expensive, this is the spot if you’re in the market for quality, or perhaps some soil, fertiliser or landscaping tools.
Hobby Centre: Like a toy shop for fully grown men, Hobby Centre has remote-controlled versions of pretty much any vehicle you can think of. Jet skis? Yup. Formula 1 cars? They have those too. This small store caters for budding petrolheads of all ages, with mechanical animals suitable for toddlers, build-your-own wind-up vehicles for slightly older kids, and cars capable of travelling 20kph for experienced hobbyists.
Salam Stores: Somewhat incongruously, this fashion boutique is every photographer’s dream. It has the best selection of camera gear – both antique and modern – in the emirate.
Women’s World: The It spot for budding designers, full of trims, ribbons, beads, silk butterflies and every other sort of dress decor. It’s cheap, too.
Makeup Etc: There’s a reason make-up artists love this store. It stocks some awesome cosmetics brands, many of which aren’t available elsewhere, including KnockOut’s trendy matte nail polish.
Neal’s Yard Remedies: The UK brand is a pioneer of organic skincare, and its beauty products have long been lauded as some of the best around. Try the lemongrass sun spray.
19-26 Books, music and stationery
Archie’s: This second-hand book store may not have the biggest selection in town, but it’s a well vetted one, and the prices are super-cheap.
Book World: The best second-hand bookshop in Dubai, Book World in Satwa has an exceptionally vast collection of tomes that are ripe for rifling through.
Book World by Kinokuniya: Sure, there are cheaper bookshops around, but few resemble cities of their own. The selection of Japanese literature and manga can’t be matched.
Dar Al Hikmah: A mainly Arabic bookstore housing one of Dubai’s best magazine collections. It stocks a large range of international publications.
Disco 2000: While this store’s CD section has a fair smattering of discs around the Dhs50 mark, the DVD section is brimming with bargains, specialising in cult faves old and new and all for under Dhs50. Grab Reservoir Dogs for Dhs30 or Citizen Kane for Dhs25. For the really tight-fisted flick fanatic there’s even a Dhs10 section, which includes various low-key masterpieces. It looks like our next movie night is sorted.
Ohm Records: There are many reasons why we love Ohm: the incredibly friendly staff, the open decks that are free for you to practise on, and the lush sofas that are perfect for chilling out. It’s also one of the Middle East’s largest vinyl sanctuaries, with an ever-expanding selection of house, breaks, hip hop, techno and trance tunes. There’s no place like Ohm, we say.
Lucky Mini Store: A haven for homesick Slavs. Stop in to fill up on Russian music, movies, books and magazines, or go in for Russian food.
Ordning and Reda: A Swedish brand specialising in upmarket stationery. Think diaries and notebooks upholstered in leather, silk and even faux crocodile skin.
Agent Provocateur: This saucy lingerie shop has a breathtaking interior. The underwear is as sexy as it gets (it better be, given the hefty bill).
Amir Adnan: One of Dubai’s hottest designers now has a boutique in Oud Metha. His creations (for both men and women) have cross-cultural appeal.
Ayesha Depala Boutique: Indian designer Ayesha Depala’s store is awash with gorgeous silk and chiffon. Think evening gowns and baby-doll dresses – all beautifully cut and timelessly stylish.
Bloomingdale’s: The New York department store is synonymous with cutting-edge fashion – more designers have had their big break here than can be counted on all appendages combined – and Dubai now has the first international branch. As well as stocking the latest collections from anyone who’s anyone in fashion, Bloomingdale’s Dubai has a large home section, complete with in-house interior designers. Finish off a shopping trip with New York’s famous Magnolia cupcakes from the basement bakery.
Boutique 1: Any self-respecting label-lover can’t bypass a trip to Boutique 1, a unisex department store with ever-rotating stock and a stellar eye for top design.
Candella Boutique: This unique Jumeirah boutique carries an exceptional range of clothing, with a focus on local designers. A good spot for some je ne sais quoi.
Desert Rose: A must-visit if you need an outfit for a night out. Featuring boho numbers from Alice & Trixie to statement necklaces care of Carolee.
Ginger & Lace: The perfect stop for girly retail therapy, this gorgeous store has a unique range of quirky baubles and dresses. Fashion TV played on loop adds additional flair.
Holy Trinity Thrift Store: The 30-year-old thrift centre is a Dubai institution. Shoppers can rifle through books, CDs, clothes, furniture and more.
If Boutique: A family-run boutique selling some famous brands, many exclusive to Dubai, including Comme Des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and Martin Margiela, to name but a few.
iSell: One of the best second-hand vintage shops around, and great for bargain brands (we unearthed a Dolce & Gabbana skirt for Dhs45).
Iconic: A mix of cool streetwear for all budgets and both genders, with a focus on local designers. There are also some great gag gifts.
JYK Boutique: Local designer Juhi Yasmeen Khan opened her own boutique in Bur Dubai this year. She stocks exclusive designs from the top Arab, Indian and Pakistani designers.
Katchins: Don’t want to fork out for a pricey new suit? Just buy the fabric and let the excellent tailors at Katchins make a bespoke version for you.
Kimaya: This Indian export stocks the top labels from the Subcontinent, including the sensual designs of Falguni & Shane Peacock. A fashionista’s haven.
Kraze: Owner Kiran Sawlani believes in giving local talent a leg-up, so expect frocks from Buffi Jashanmal, Barkha Mulani and other Dubai-based designers.
Mostafawi: Half the stock is out of date and the staff can be brusque, but for the cheapest branded jeans in town, it has to be Mostafawi in Deira.
Mumbai Sé: This beautiful shop showcases top Indian fashion. The patterns on the dresses are exquisite, as are the accessories.
Noon: Born in the UAE, this funky T-shirt store stocks tees that are hand-printed with locally-inspired designs (such as the one with a road-crossing sign depicting two Emiratis).
Ounass: A palatial nest of exquisite designers, including Diane von Furstenberg, Catherine Malandrino and Marchesa, Ounass remains a fashionista’s fantasy come true.
Reem’s Closet: The place for all your second-hand shopping needs: Reem’s offers designer frocks and bags (including the occasional Louis Vuitton case) for a snip of their original prices.
Samsaara Boutique: Indian designers are coming into their own, as is evidenced at Samsaara, which showcases the best (and priciest) of the bunch. Breathtaking.
S*uce: A favourite spot on the fashion circuit, S*uce (pronounced ‘sauce’) has a versatile collection that includes local and haute designers. The place to go for something unique.
Si Fashion Galerie: A crowd-pleaser tucked into an elegant villa. There’s everything from bridal gowns to haute couture and designer abayas too, as well as a lounge serving mocktails.
Soboho: Soboho stocks a copious range of vintage T-shirts (by Junk Food, Local Celebrity and David & Goliath), plus LA streetwear, gifts and trinkets for men, women and kids.
Soiree: The first high-end multi-brand Pakistani boutique in Dubai showcases the country’s best designers, and has breathtaking eveningwear made from lush fabrics.
Studio 8: Sarah Belhasa’s exquisite shop is more of a design collective. The international multi-brand boutique carries the likes of Manish Malhotra, Aiisha Ramadan and other top talents.
Tigerlily: The perfect spot for something unique to spice up your wardrobe. Frocks tend toward flowing and feminine – check out the Lamis Khamis wares.
Valleydez: Fashion meets theatre at Valleydez (which is short for ‘Valley of the Designers’). The surreal shop at Wafi features items that are hand-picked from the catwalks of international fashion weeks.
ZinZin: Set-up as the anti-department store, this home-grown boutique has one-of-a-kind dresses and alternative statement jewellery. Good for fostering a unique look.
Bee Kingdom: Want some honey, honey? This is where you get it. Bee Kingdom sells quality honey from around the Gulf and also offers samples. Premium stuff.
Candylicious: At 10,000sq ft, this is apparently the world’s largest candy store. It stocks a 5lb Hershey bar, alongside every flavour of Jelly Belly jelly bean ever invented.
Coffee Center: A haven for coffee lovers, this Bur Dubai spot has been around since the ’70s. It has the best beans, and Bader, the owner, is a character, too.
Gourmet Station: A must-stop for gourmands and at-home cooks. For hard-to-find haute olive oils, salts, chocolates and more, this is the only place to go.
Lulu Hypermarket: For unique produce or cuts of meat (chicken neck, anyone?), this supermarket is your best bet. The final bill is cheaper, too.
Oishii Nippon: An exquisitely designed hole-in-the-wall that sells the best produce Japan has to offer. Goods are pricey, but they make great gifts (and staff will even custom-wrap).
Ronnefeldt: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a larger range of tea or tea paraphernalia in all of Dubai. Try the unique, fruity flavours, such as lychee.
Andrew Martin: Offers furniture that could double as art. We particularly love the movie posters annotated with catchphrases (for The Graduate: ‘I should have seen him coming’).
Burlesque: Here, shopping ceases to be a chore, and instead turns into a mad adventure that could end in the purchase of a funky bulldog-emblazoned chair or a lamp made of sunglasses, as well as the odd piece of quirky jewellery. Owner and interior designer Laith Abdul Hadi quotes Alice in Wonderland as his inspiration. You never know what you’ll find, but it will likely delight.
Crate & Barrel: The US chain has just landed in the Middle East, offering bright, contemporary furnishings. It’s not Ikea-cheap, but it’s less expensive than other chains.
Designer’s Hub: The name says it all. This shop is where Dubai’s top interior designers go to furnish the homes of their top clients.
Harvest Home: Home decorating for lovers of kitsch. There’s great crockery, humorous mugs and celeb-themed cookware – the perfect place to give your home some character.
Hide & Seek Africa: The place to go for African-themed furniture. Check out the animal-hide chairs and pillows or decorative horns.
Irony Home: The name hints at cutting-edge furnishings, but the vast selection is actually quite tasteful. A good spot to pick up overstuffed chairs and knick-knacks.
Kani Home: A treasure trove of superior Kashmiri goods. Don’t miss the eye-catching dyed silk kaftans and intricately detailed rugs. Not cheap, but certainly stylish.
O’ de Rose: This Jumeirah store is the kind of place where you can while away an hour gazing at embroidered sofas, Lebanese ottomans and Andy Warhol-esque prints.
Ozi Trading: Great for designer furniture at a discount. Imagine scooping up Lorenzo art-deco chairs for only Dhs250.
Pottery Barn: This US chain, new to Dubai, sells all sorts of furniture, but it’s the trinkets that give homes a more personal touch.
Purity: Sleek and achingly modern designs for every room of the house – these are items for home owners obsessed with interiors. We personally adore the Truffle chair.
Q Home Decor: One of the most unique and affordable home stores in Dubai. Accessories are organised by colour, and the fake flowers look real.
Swiss Corporation for Design and Tech: Are you a fan of Eames, and other funky office furnishings? If so, you’ll love the unusual offerings at this shop.
The One: Demonstrating that a sophisticated, cool furniture shop can be born in the UAE. Originating in Abu Dhabi, The One sells furnishings with character.
Traffic: Traffic is every modernist’s delight. It stocks sleek furniture and a few quirky design pieces, as well as Hipster T-shirts, care of Graniph.
80-84 Kids and maternity
Bookworm: If only adult bookstores were this fun. With readings and events for kids, plus an Arabic-style reading tent, Bookworm can make any kid bookish.
Jenny Rose Maternity: The first maternitywear retailer in Dubai, Jenny Rose caters for mothers-to-be that refuse to look frumpy. Check out the eveningwear.
Just Kidding: An upmarket shop selling everything a new mum (with an expense account) could want, including Bugaboo strollers and nursery decorations. The store also holds classes.
Okaidi/Obaibi: Okaidi sells uber-cute and fashionable clothing for kids up to the age of 14, while Obaibi supplies adorable dungarees and pinafores for babies.
ZaZeeZou: Cute clothing and decorations for kids. The one-stop-shop for parents that want to stay cool and don’t mind using their children as a poster board.
Classic City: The best spot for fun souvenirs and strange odds and ends. The mosque alarm clocks are on our must-have list.
Mr Ben’s Costume Closet: Fancy dress party on the horizon? Consider your costume taken care of. Mr Ben’s stocks every type of alter-ego you could think of, and if they don’t have it, they have a ‘two weeks to get you anything’ policy. We love the Darth Vader for adults costume. Next time there’s a fancy dress theme at Chi, you’ll be in the running for the best-dressed prize.
The Party Centre: For quickie Halloween outfits, party decorations and the city’s largest selection of balloons, The Party Centre can’t be beaten.
The Shelter: As well as a wide collection of magazines, this small shop also offers quirky objects (alas, it has sold out of Sheikh Zayed-etched iPods).
Virgin Megastore: Great for gag gifts and funky party favours. We like the Titanic-shaped ice cube trays and mechanical spaghetti-twirling forks. There are plenty of DVDs and CDs too.
Aura B: Aura B is a unique concept, and not just by Dubai standards. The online boutique carries chic designer fashion for women and men as well as quirky furniture, art and, incongruously, self-help books and crystals. Don’t let the latter scare you off – there is a fantastic collection here, and a strong showing from some of the region’s best designers. Plus, because it’s Dubai-based, delivery is free for any address in the UAE.
Salt Street: Sick of the high street? Try Salt Street for a dose of alternative fashion. There’s next-day delivery in Dubai, plus free returns.
Go Sport: One of the best-stocked sporting good stores in Dubai. Hiking, surfing, golfing, boxing – whatever you’re into, these guys are likely to stock whatever paraphernalia you need.
Picnico: This easy-to-miss store on Beach Road is packed with general camping gear, GPS systems and other gadgets that will come in handy when tenting it in the desert.
Rage: This shop has all the skateboarding equipment you’ll ever need. The Dubai Mall branch even has a practice ramp, and at DFC you can buy tickets to skate in the parking lot.
Surf Shop Dubai: This cool store takes centre stage in Dubai’s surfing community. It not only sells more than 40 styles of surfboards (second-hand and custom boards are available too), but it also offers surfing lessons for beginners. The shop’s owner, Carl De Villiers, is friendly and knowledgeable – all in all, a good guide for those just starting out. This little home-grown store is also the first dedicated surf shop in the country.
Wolfi’s Bike Shop: Wolfi’s carries everything from specialist racing bikes to family-style cycles. Fancy a community ride to Nad Al Sheba? Sign up in-store.
Computer Plaza: This conglomerate of techy stalls can meet most of your computing demands on the cheap. Haggling is encouraged. Be warned, quality is not guaranteed.
Geekay Games: This local game store chain is one of the most reliable spots to meet your geeking needs. While there, pick up a kiddy karaoke kit.
iStyle: Few tech shops carry all the Mac accessories, but iStyle hits the spot. As well as speakers, hard drives and other Mac add-ons, it also stocks cool laptop bags.
Sharaf DG: This UAE-based electronics chain has the widest range of brands in the region. If it can’t meet your electronics needs, nowhere can.
101 Top reader’s pick
‘My favourite store is Petals Boutique – it feels like a haunted castle, or some fabled fairy land. It offers antiques from palaces all over Europe. I like how you have to hunt for items; you never know if you’ll find something on the floor, in the antique cabinets or even on one of the many trees inside (real trees, mind you, not fake plastic ones).’ Anon