Souk Madinat Jumeirah – A modern take on the traditional

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Souk Madinat Jumeirah is part of the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah resort, the largest 5 star resort of Dubai, located in the vicinity of Jumeirah group’s other properties including the iconic Burj Al Arab. The resort consists of three 5 star hotels and an Arabic souk called Souk Madinat.

The ‘Souks Madinat’ Jumeirah aptly describes what it is; a quaintly designed Arabic-themed collection of boutique shops where you will find little traditional things from Slippers-to-Spices as they put it.

Why Souk Madinat Jumeirah a MUST

Most visitors are suckers to shopping in Dubai. There are big malls, there are huge malls and there are massive malls in Dubai. Souk Madinat is none. However, it is still one of the most loved and visited places in Dubai. The reason for this is very simple; it is a unique Arabic bazaar themed shopping place where you will find everything that fits into a “memoir” shopping.

The shopping fun

The design of the Souk Madinat is inspired by the traditional souks of the Arab world. Shops placed in narrow alleyways where shopkeepers peddle their wares like spices, traditional cloths, oudh (Arabic scents and fragrances that are oil based), garments, souvenirs, carpets, gemstones etc. This creates a unique ambience where the buyer and seller have closer bonding and business is done in an informal way over cups of famous Arabic coffee or tea endearingly called Arabiyy. The Souk Madinat is an attempt to provide the discerning tourists and visitors this intimate Arabic heritage shopping experience.

The Souk Madinat is not only a shopping destination for seekers of high quality spices, carpets and fragrances etc., but also a complete destination in itself. It is littered with cafes and restaurants. These serve anything from light sandwiches to complete meals.

The ambiance and convenience

There is a beautiful canal that runs through the entire Madinat Jumeirah resort for visitors to enjoy water rides. One can visit the turtle conservation center where the rehabilitation of turtles is being done by the Jumeirah group.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah is wheelchair friendly and visitors to souk can request for wheelchair at the entrance of the souk, next to the elevators leading to the souk. The bazaar at night comes alive thanks to the lighting that drapes the palm trees, streets of the souk and shops. It is like transformed to Aladdin-esque souk. If you must then visit Souk Madinat at night to enjoy not only the bazaar shopping but also the romantic ambience and street cafes.

Souk Madinat is also a thriving arty place, and as you walk around, you will see various artworks embellishing the walls, right from the underground garage space to the curving walkways in the Souk. These are crafted by seven UAE-based women artists who were commissioned to narrate the richness of the heritage of the Middle East, turning the Madinat Jumeirah into a ‘living canvas’.

Outlets in Souk Madinat

The most important thing that you can do here is to soak in the atmosphere. As it is built around the water canal adorned with palm trees, it is a good-for-walk bazaar. There are many outlets in souk Madinat that sell exotic Arabic-centric items such as Oudh, carpets, spices, slippers of highest quality and design. You will be greeted by some of the friendliest outlet owners.

When you get into the shop, you would be met up with the friendliest shopowners and staff, who would engage you with the history and culture nuances of their wares. Buying is not important here, conversation is! Test various oudh and the immersive experience is in a different level. You may especially buy the following;

  • Finely-woven pashmina shawl from Pride of Kashmir
  • Three Dimensional models of iconic Dubai landmarks treasured inside a crystal ware, from the Crystal Gallery.
  • Exotic Jewelry and watches from the House of Rivoli
  • Unique home decorating things like carpets, statuettes by Miri or Persian Carpet House.
  • For trinkets and other incredible finds, you can make a quick stop-over at indoor stalls and pop-up shops
  • There are some premium shopping boutique of fashion and lifestyle brands such as Braschi, Paris Moda and Kiwi Saint Tropez.
  • Eva Gems and Le Paris Diamonds shops.

Abra ride in Souk Madinat Jumeirah

For water lovers, take an Abra tour of the Souk, the ride is very pleasant as you enjoy the ride to the “little Venice” as the souk is endearingly called. The Abra ride is not very expensive but you will enjoy every moment of the ride on the wooden Arabic boat.

 The abra tours are very frequent, almost once every twenty minutes so even you miss one, there is always a second sail awaiting you. The total distance covered by the Abra is 5 kilometers and that means covering the entire meandering stretch. Even more, the interesting tales narrated by your Abra navigator makes the trip all the more interesting and memorable.

There is a theater nestled among the shops that have an exotic mix of international performances, right from Russian ballet to Irish tap dances. Enjoy these performances with your family and friends over tasty nachos and bubbly drinks.

Restaurants in Madinat Jumeirah

 There are many restaurants serving gourmet delicacies from all over the world. The Restaurants have ambience, music and food to nourish your palette as well your soul, so that you can enjoy a relaxed evening watching the night go by.

The restaurants of Souk Madinat include,

  • Times of Arabia – Middle Eastern varieties and shisha with exotic flavors
  • Pierchic –  seafood
  • Trattoria Toscana – authentic Italian cuisine
  • Gelato Divino – Ice cream dessert
  • Pai Thai – Fragrant Thai curries
  • Trader Vic’s – Authentic Polynesian-Chinese food
  • Belgian Beer Café – Extensive range of drinks
  • Publique – chalet-type restaurant

Souk Boardwalk in Madinat Jumeirah

The iconic Souk Madinat has done one up on itself by adding a restaurant deck calling it, “Souk Boardwalk”. Souk Boardwalk is made from teak wood as an elevated platform to seat more than 250 diners at a time. The deck is open, however, has a cloth covered pergola to shade you from sun and heat.

The boardwalk houses restaurants like Italian themed Trattoria Toscana, Greek restaurant Taverna and the avant-garde American style bar and restaurant the Americano.

The Souk Boardwalk starts from the restaurant Travders Vic and has an area of 500 sq. meter. While dining, you may enjoy the scenic Bur Al Arab.

The Al fresco experience of Souk Boardwalk is further enhanced due to the meandering water canal.

How to get to Souk Madinat Jumeirah?

Wherever you are in Dubai, The Souk Madinat is never far away from you. As the name suggests, it is located in the Jumeirah district of Dubai. From the downtown, a taxi drive would take less than 20 minutes to get there and if you have a car, it becomes much easier as it is next to the iconic 7-star hotel property, The Burj Al Arab which towers the skyline where the souk Madinat is located.

You will never miss the traditional Arabic style design of the mall from far. If you are pro-environmentalist then hop onto bus 8, 81, F55A and X28 lines that stop at one of the nearest stations on a 10-minute walk away. Now, you may take the metro and get down at Mall of Emirates and take a connecting bus to the Souk.

Souk Timing

Souk Jumeirah opens at 10 am and closes at 11 pm. However, the restaurants open early, at 8 am and close at 2 am, giving plenty of time for fulfilling your gastronomical temptations.

Parking in Madinat Jumeirah

For parking, you need not worry. There is plenty of parking available in the basement and for more comfort loving visitors, there is ubiquitous valet parking services available throughout the day. For tourists, it is on the itinerary of major city tour activities such as the Big Bus tours. 

Important note here is that some shops of Souk Madinat do not mind bargaining and this adds extra “Arabic shopping” touch to your overall experience.

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