When shopping in Dubai, sometimes haggling is entirely appropriate – in fact, sometimes it’s expected. However, at some markets it’s just not de rigueur. As a general rule of thumb, Dubai’s older, more established markets love a bit of banter, whereas the newer, snazzier options are less up for it. For instance, at the Gold Souk it’s absolutely accepted, but at Covent Garden Market or Baker & Spice’s farmer’s market it would be a bit out of place.
• Appear only slightly interested in the object at hand.
• Sometimes just say nothing, looking up at the vendor with a doubtful face. Silence is awkward and they’ll want to fill it, often with a better offer.
• Shop around. They’re selling that rip-off watch for Dhs50, but the guy next door and the one next door to him will probably have the same one. Play them against each other
• Walk into the shop with a guidebook in hand, a bum bag sporting your national flag slapped around your waist and a phallic Canon camera slung over your shoulder. Instead, sidle in wearing jeans and Havaianas, with a copy of Time Out tucked under your arm – way cooler.
• Worry about what people will think of you. Sure, your friends may think you’re a tool toiling over Dhs5, but they’ll be impressed when you manage to win the battle they thought was going to be lost.
• Shout or throw things – you may get arrested.