Online shopping in Dubai

Facing festive shopping woes? Follow our online guide for shopping inspiration.

Jet setter
Thrifty jet-setters who have already logged plenty of travel time with Air Arabia (Airarabia.com) would no doubt welcome a random ticket somewhere (Flights to Katmandu cost Dhs1,200 at the click of a button). You can also add to their frequent-flier miles with an airline gift card. The increments start at Dhs50, so you can make it as budget-friendly as you like.

Fantastic memories are always made while travelling, and with the Vado pocket video cam (Radioshack.com) there’s no excuse not to capture them on film. The Dhs400 camera holds up to two hours of video and comes with a rechargeable battery – perfect for travel mavens. It’s so easy to use (just push a button to record), even your grandma can get the hang of it – though she might need help uploading the videos to YouTube.

If you’re buying for a close family member, give the best thing you have: yourself – in autographed, framed picture form (Museumfacsimiles.com). It’s a tad cringe-worthy, but why not go the whole hog and set the photos in an ornate frame?

Adventurous types
Ever wonder what it’s like to swim in the ocean with dolphins and other sea creatures? The experiential gift site bluebanana.com offers adventures ranging from kite-boarding to hang gliding to fishing – and can hook your friend up with a scuba-diving lesson that teaches basics such as buoyancy and underwater breathing in a one-day pool workshop in Fujairah. If it’s a mad gallop around the desert on an Arabian stallion you’re after, look no further.

If your friend wears her running shoes everywhere – including kickboxing class, then bring on the Dhs900 Nike Sister Ones (Nike.com) in electric blue: the new DiamondFLX sole strengthens the foot while Flywire technology, which debuted at the Olympics, provides serious support and stability.

Spa lover
Upgrade her tub-time ritual with a Dhs250 sustainable bamboo bath caddy (Delight.com) that keeps all the essentials in place: it has spots for a wineglass, a loofah and soap – and a stand for propping up the latest issue of Time Out. After soaking in the tub, she can keep her tootsies sparkling clean by shuffling around in snuggly Dhs180 Ugg Fluffies (Zappos.com). La Sultane de Saba’s Savon Noir (Beautycafe.com), a Dhs240 French exfoliating gel cleanser made with crushed organic olives from Morocco, will keep his wind-chapped skin soft after a spot of wadi bashing and is perfect as a pre-shave prep.

If it’s a joint spa venture you’re after, RafflesAmrita spa (Raffles.com) offers gift vouchers for its exclusive couple’s suite. For Dhs1,500, you’re looking at a rose petal-strewn bath, a platter of fresh fruit, a full body massage and an afternoon relaxing in the Egyptian-themed pool area.

Gadget geeks
Even the biggest techie can get tripped up trying to figure out the latest gadget. Luckily, plumchoice.com offers 24/7 assistance. Virtual operators (either online through your PC or via telephone) are available to help set up iPods, PDAs and more. The site’s smart plan begins at Dhs120 a month (plus a one-time set-up fee of Dhs150), but you can also purchase help by the minute (Dhs120 for 15 minutes) for one-time fixes.

If it was a miracle your parents finally got internet service a few years ago, then set them up for Wi-Fi wherever they go with the Dhs999 Apple AirPort Express (Apple.com).

For any computer geeks out there, the online service gamefly.com sends you games (more than 6,000 titles for systems including Wii, PlayStation and more) that you mail back in a prepaid envelope after you’ve finished playing. Best bit? It’s a mere Dhs60 a month.

Grown ups
Not only will Taschen’s hardbound Dhs230 Piano: Renzo Piano Building Workshop 1966 to Today (borders.com) look great on a coffee table, it can also provide cocktail-party fodder about the designer, who is the current talk of the town and rumoured to be sniffing about Dubai in search of a project.

For dining prowess, the ’70s-inspired faux-wood Pop Ink Smorgas-board plates (Dhs150 set, elsewares.com) are perfect for your design-minded hostess friend, or a college kid ready to upgrade from stolen dining-hall plates.

Kids’ club
Even if your friends and family couldn’t draw a stick figure to save their lives, you can still find great gifts for them at dickblick.com. Your nieces and nephews can brighten winter scenes outside their window by decorating the panes with Dhs40 GelGems robot window clings. A Dhs58 page-a-day origami calendar has step-by-step instructions for making everything from tulips to stunt planes. (Include some colourful rice paper and they can start folding right away.)

The Dhs78 Alex Toys sock critters kit allows kids to create their own chicken and elephant sock puppets with colourful pre-cut shapes, cotton and glue. For a longtime friend, place photos and other souvenirs inside Cubisto’s Dhs56 3-D framing system so they’ll never forget how great you really are.

If it’s a teenager you’re dealing with, The Dhs500 Lomography Holga camera is so old school that its defects become its prime assets: Light leaks onto the film (creating red tints or burn marks on photos) and soft-focus results are par for the course, so your angst-ridden teenager can be effortlessly arty. For something a little quirkier, turn your bike-mad nephew’s wheels with the Dhs450 Resource Revival bike-chain bowl (Resourcerevival.com), made of recycled bike chains.

Local talent

In the three years that Souq.com has been running, there’s been all manner of oddments sold (breast enlargement pills, a Persian cat, 35-year-old Converse trainers, a Spinney’s plastic bag, Darth Vader-emblazoned kiddies socks and a meteorite to name a few). So, if it’s the truly weird and wonderful you’re after, then log on for some truly ‘special’ gifts.

But it’s not alone in its savvy thinking, for some cunning sort set up eBay.ae a few years ago and while it hasn’t got the official eBay stamp of approval, it offers a whole world of random knick knacks, including Britney Spears’ platforms from her Toxic video (yes, really) and a deck of cards that apparently were found in a Dubai hotel room after a grisly murder last year (a definite one for granny, we’re sure you will agree). For anyone who can’t even be bothered to browse for the perfect gift, Flowersdubai.com will sort out any in-laws and hopeless romantics in a mere 60 minutes.

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