USP: A genuine boutique showcasing Middle Eastern and Moroccan artisans.
Why go? The first thing that hits you in this whitewashed villa (apart from the aroma of rose) is colour: stocked with art, furniture, clothing, jewellery, pottery and more, rifling through the artisan pieces here is like finding a gem of a designer market in a backstreet in Beirut. Founded two years ago by three Lebanese cousins who were frustrated by the lack of good boutiques in the city, this effortlessly chic place isn’t cheap, but you’ll most likely walk out with something you’ll cherish forever. Oh, and they serve you rose water to sup while you shop.
Location: 999 Al Wasl Road, opposite Choithrams in Umm Suqeim (04 348 7990).
USP: Offers some hidden gems amid a collection of standard Dubai souvenirs.
Why go? The tiny, crammed shop stocks typical tourist-trap items, but also sells some gorgeous jewellery as well as artefacts that are quirky enough to be worth an investment, and will be cheaper here than in trendy boutiques.
Location: Near Park ’n’ Shop (04 395 4700).
USP: Imported as well as in-house furniture and accessories that feel as though they’ve come straight from of the set of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
Why go? This is one of the weirdest shops we’ve ever visited – and we mean that as a compliment. Sure, the goods are very, very expensive, but it’s worth taking a look around just to see the grass-lined walls and the surreal setups. Most of the designs in the store are from the US or Europe, or are crafted by the Burlesque team themselves.
Location: 183 Al Wasl Road, Al Bada, just before Al Ghazal Shopping Centre (04 346 1616).
USP: A museum of fashion with super-modern one-off designers.
Why go? Walking into this super-chic store can be a little intimidating, what with the high stud modern architecture, cold concrete floors, über-cool staff and lack of music, but then that’s also pretty refreshing in a city full of obsequious service. If you love the structured, grown-up and timeless aesthetic of fashion designers such as Junya Watanabe and Ann Demeulemeester (and don’t mind paying for them), this store is for you.
Location: 26 Umm Al Sheif Street, the road that intersects Al Wasl near Spinneys (04 394 7260).