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Markets & Souks in Abu Dhabi

These traditional markets have evolved into bustling tourist attractions selling a fascinating collection of items. Souk is the Arabic word for marketplace. Historically, dhows from the Far East and India would offload their cargo and the goods would be haggled over in the nearby souks. Over the years the items on sale have diversified dramatically – today, alongside the spices, silks and perfumes you’ll find electronic goods, souvenirs, clothing and household items. Traditional souks developed organically into collections of maze-like alleyways, with small shops opening up onto the paths. Abu Dhabi’s souks are worth a visit for their bustling atmosphere, eclectic variety of goods, and to observe the traditional way of doing business. ABU DHABI Carpet Souk Yemeni mattresses and machine-made carpets dominate at this souk, bur bargains can be found if you know what you are looking for. Some of the vendors will make up Arabic majlis-style cushions for a very reasonable price. You’ll find it on Mina Road, near the main port area. Central Market Currently being redeveloped, the Central Market will emerge as a modern city centerpiece, with hotels, apartments and an Arabian souk. Fish Souk Every morning, fishermen load their catch on to the quayside and prepare for a day of haggling- it is a fascinating insight into the way traditional business is done. The fish souk is near the Meena Souk, in the Mina Zayed Free Port. Al Mina Fruit & Vegetable Souk Across the road from the Fish Souk, this fruit and vegetable market is bursting with colour as each seller arranges his produce outside the shops. The choice is amazing. And you can buy by the kilo or the box. Even if you don’t buy, it is an excellent photo opportunity. Meena Souk It may not be air-conditioned, but fresh batches of Iranian goods arrive at this authentic souk every three days by dhow or barge. Everything is on sale, from household goods and terracotta urns, to decorative metal, cane and glass items. It’s also a great place for plants- both indoor and outdoor. As it is part of the working port, photography is prohibited. Souk Qaryat Al Beri This contemporary adaptation of a typical Arabian souk stands proud as the first of its kind in the capital. It is home to local and international retail brands, coffee shops and a diverse range of restaurants. Abras (water taxis) take you around the souk via meandering manmade canals, and the stunning waterside complex offers alfresco dining in beautiful architectural surroundings. AL AIN Al Ain Souk Also known as the Central or Old Souk, this is a great place to explore, savour the local atmosphere and practice your bargaining skills. The souk itself is a rather ramshackle affair but it is certainly different from many of the modern, air-conditioned markets found elsewhere. Muwajei Souk This modern souk is a long strip of handy shops, including big guns like Choithram, Shoe Mart and The Body Shop. There is also a bakery, a baby shop, butcher’s and a toy shop-even more outlets can be found across the road. Souk Al Bawadi & Souk al Qaws Both of these outdoor markets are attached to the huge Bawadi Mall in Al Ain, which opened in April 2009. Souk Al Qaws features shops of a practical nature set among unique architecture, with over 40 service outlets including banks, money exchanges and travel agents. Souk Al Bawadi has more of a heritage element, with over 50 shops selling traditional items and souvenirs. Souk al Zafarana Originally meant to be the new home of the city’s Old Souk, Zafarana is now filled with shops selling everything from fruit and vegetables to shoes and handicrafts. You can bargain with most of the sellers, so don’t be shy when trying to find a great deal. This is also a great place to pick up a variety of dates. Be sure to taste the many different kinds before settling on your favourite.

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