2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Traditional markets & souks

  • Al Ain Souk
  • Al Ain Souk
  • Al Ain Souk
  • Al Mina Friut and Vegetable souk
  • Al Mina Fruit and vegetable souk
  • Al Mina Fruit and vegetable souk
  • Carpet Souk
  • Fish Souk

Souk is Arabic 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 goods on sale have diversified dramatically; today alongside the spices, silks and perfumes you'll find electronic goods, souvenirs, clothing and household items. 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.

Every morning, fishermen load their catch on to the quayside and prepare for a day of haggling. Take a trip to the Fish Souk at Mina Zayed, near Abu Dhabi’s main port area, and experience a fascinating insight into the way traditional business is done.

Across the road from the Fish Souk, the Al Mina Fruit & Vegetable Souk 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 are not buying, this area provides excellent photo opportunities.

Yemeni mattresses and machine made carpets dominate Abu Dhabi’s Carpet Souk, but bargains can be found if you know what you are looking for. Some of the sellers will make up Arabic majlis style cushions for a very reasonable price. The souk is based on Mina Road, near Abu Dhabi’s main port area.

Also known as the Central or Old Souk, the Al Ain Souk is a great place to explore, savour the local atmosphere and practise 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.

The two outdoor markets - Souk Al Bawadi & Souk Al Qaws are attached to the huge Bawadi Mall in Al Ain. 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, while Souk Al Bawadi has more of a heritage feel, with over 50 shops selling traditional items and souvenirs.

Souk Al Zafarana (+971 3 762 1868) is a jewel of a find which reflects true Emirati culture and tradition while being new. Whether you're looking for traditional garments, incense or spices, henna or oud, or dallah (Arabian coffee pots) this is the marketplace for you. This is the new home of Al Ain's old souk and features Mubdia Village, a section exclusively for women that is staffed by female shopkeepers. Around the corner from Al Jimi Mall in Al Ain, the souk is open 10am to 1pm and 8pm until midnight.

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