The Dubai Gold Souk is an ancient gold market located in the Deira district, in the heart of Dubai’s Old Town.
That many super billionaires live in Dubai is no secret, as it is not that these people love to surround themselves with gold: from the taps of their villas, to the accessories of their cars, up to the smartphones studded with gold and diamonds. So it shouldn’t surprise us that one of the largest gold markets in the world is located in Dubai.
Today the Dubai Gold Souk comprises approximately 400 retailers, some of whom have been in business for over 50 years. In addition to gold, many merchants also trade diamonds, pearls, platinum and precious stones.
The origins of the Dubai Gold Souk
In the early 1900s there were many pearl merchants in Dubai, while only a few people dealt with gold and other precious metals. In the 1940s, new trade policies began to apply in these areas, and so incentives and tax breaks began to attract many Iranian and Indian merchants to come here and open shops.
But it is with the oil boom of the 70s that the Dubai Gold Souk has become one of the most important in the world.
Today it is said that behind the counters of this old-fashioned souk, more than 10 tons of gold are kept on any given day. Everything is strictly regulated by the UAE government, to guarantee the authenticity of the goods sold in official stores.
Prices are not regulated, therefore bargaining is an integral and fundamental part of the game. The best professional negotiators who come here to do business are said to pull off big deals. But trust me, if you are not a professional you will hardly be able to make the deal of your life here.
6 Things to Know Before Buying Gold in Dubai
1. Know the current market price of gold
The price of gold fluctuates daily, just like the stock market. The market price of gold (or rather, the official price charged by retailers at that moment, called Dubai Retail Gold Rate) is clearly displayed on the LED panels placed by the government authorities along the streets of the Souk.
In addition, the price is usually also reported in the individual shops and on the windows.
The prices are indicated on the basis of the purity of the gold: 24 K, 22 K, 21 K, 18 K and indicate for each the relative price per gram in AED.
In case you want to shop it is absolutely important to know the current price of gold, because this will be the starting point for your bargaining.
2. Get ready to see tons of yellow gold
Arabs and their major customers (mainly Asians, but also Russians) love 22 or 24 carat gold (therefore practically pure gold). This reason, in addition to the fact that most of the gold for sale in the Dubai Gold Souk comes from the Indian market, determines that mainly 22 or 24 carat yellow gold is sold.
In any case, just ask and you will be satisfied: there is no lack of 18-carat solutions or the possibility of buying bracelets, pendants or wedding rings in white gold.
3. Know the differences between the different types of gold
All that glisters is not gold, isn’t it? Well, if you are interested in buying gold in Dubai it will be good if you learn the difference between the different types of gold, also because this will be fundamental to understand what you are buying and the price you are paying for it.
In fact, jewels are usually produced with an alloy of gold and other metals (usually copper, silver, nickel or palladium), this is because gold is a very soft metal and the alloy is used to give greater resistance and workability, as well as obviously to make the price more accessible.
The difference between 24 K gold and 18 K gold therefore lies in the percentage of gold present within the alloy used to make the jewel:
– 24 K: practically pure gold, contains 99.99% gold
– 22 K: contains 91.6% gold
– 20 K: contains 83.3% gold
– 18 K: contains 75% gold
So a 24K jewel, for the same weight, is much more valuable than an 18K jewel, and consequently much more expensive.
4. Purchase only from official stores (and never from street vendors)
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the gold and jewelery sold in the Dubai Gold Souk, rest assured that all shops and all merchandise sold is strictly under the control of the Dubai government authorities. So the quality and authenticity are checked and certified.
Remember, however, not to give confidence and not to buy anything from street vendors you might meet on the street. What they are proposing to you is not a deal but a sure scam.
5. Go around different stores
Most people visit the Dubai Gold Souk just to look at the shop windows and see this extraordinary old souk that has become famous all over the world. But if instead you are willing to buy something, then take a tour of several stores: there are over 300 where to look for what is right for you and where to try to get a good price.
If you want to make a customized jewel or you already have an idea of what you want, do not hesitate to explain everything to the sellers, they will surely help you. Usually most of them speak fluent English and often also Russian, Chinese, French or Italian.
If you see something you like displayed in the window ask for information, the attendant will weigh it and let you know the weight in gold and the price. From here the bargaining will start. Bargain only if you are really interested in buying: if you reach a satisfactory deal then buy, while if you believe that the price is still too high, do not be afraid or ashamed to try to have a look at the shop next door.
I’ll tell you a secret: in general, the shops located in the side alleys of the souk (the less visible ones) have much better prices because they are seen by fewer people and they also pay less for the rent of their shops.
6. Be prepared to bargain on the price
If you are willing to buy, be prepared to spend a lot of time, even hours, bargaining and drinking tea.
This is why it is very important to be clear what the budget we are willing to spend. Surely you start with the advantage if you already have an idea of the price of a similar jewel in a jewelry store in your home country.
Normally the seller will start from an inflated price so as to ensure himself a certain margin of negotiation. It might be a good idea to offer 25-30% less.
Keep in mind that you can only trade on the making charge, not on the price of gold (which is fixed), and that the seller will have to make a reasonable profit on the sale.
So haggle as much as you can, keeping in mind that your bargaining margin is all about the making charge, so the more a jewel has a complex and particular design (or it has been tailor-made for you) the more its make charge will be high.
Keep in mind that the more things you buy the more bargaining power you will have (and therefore you will be able to get a greater discount on the single item) and that generally if you pay in cash the seller will be happy to discount you a few more dollars from the price.
In any case, however, haggle with respect and education. In Dubai people bargain about everything, so don’t be afraid of long negotiations. Don’t be mean (nobody will sell you anything under its real value) and offer what you really think is right to offer, you will see that a deal will be reached.
Dubai Gold Souk Prices
The price of any jewel sold in the Dubai Gold Souk is composed of:
- Gold price: it is the price of gold used in the jewel (the weight of gold multiplied by the Dubai Retail Gold Rate in force at that time).
- Making charges: it is the price added by the seller to cover the production cost of the jewel and make a profit. This can vary considerably in the case of custom-made craftsmanship, but in any case – provided you know how to negotiate well – it is lower than the prices charged in other parts of the world (such as in Europe or in the United States).
To this must be added the price of any precious stones that are set in the jewel.
You can check the current Dubai Retail Gold Rate on the Authority’s official website. This is the only official place to check, other websites are often not reliable.
The Dubai Retail Gold Rate is established by an official authority (the Dubai Gold & Jewelery Group, who is a member of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the world’s authority for precious metal markets) which updates it twice a day (morning it’s evening). Its value is normally slightly higher than the official gold rate on international markets, because the retailers’ price is inclusive of all logistics costs (transport, insurance, import).
Consider that the inspectors of the Dubai Central Laboratory regularly check the quality of the gold and the respect of the rules by the retailers.
This includes checks on the correct calibration of the measuring instruments and on the purity and authenticity of the metals and precious stones used.
Finally, 5% of Value Added Tax (VAT) is added to the price of the jewel. VAT was introduced in Dubai and the rest of the UAE starting in January 2018, however its rate is still one of the lowest in the world.
Tourists can also claim 85% of VAT back by filling in a form at the tax refund kiosks at the airport entrance. However, keep in mind that your home country may require you to pay an import duty on your return.
Other best places to buy gold in Dubai
If you are interested in buying cheap gold in Dubai the best place is certainly the old Dubai Gold Souk because here you can buy quality gold and save on the making charge, but if you are looking for something particular, branded, or you want to shop more calmly and away from the torrid heat and the crush of the Gold Souk you can go to the Gold and Diamond Park on Sheikh Zayed Rd, near the Mall of the Emirates.
This is a real shopping center dedicated to jewelry, refined, with air conditioning and very professional staff. Here jewels often have a price tag, so you can get an idea much easier. However, even here you can bargain. The variety of choices is disarming and ranges across all possible metals and precious stones, while the style of the jewelry is mainly Italian and European rather than Arabic.
Things to see near the Dubai Gold Souk
Deira Perfume Souk
Near the Dubai Gold Souk you will meet what is called the Deira Perfume Souk, that is a set of alleys where there are a large number of perfume shops.
Here you can find both the most famous international brands (not all are original) and the precious local fragrances. These fragrances, called attar, are derived from flower essences expertly mixed by perfumers and are highly appreciated by local women, are oil-based, and have a strong and floral smell. Some perfumeries also sell the precious essences made with oud, a very expensive resin obtained from agarwood.
Furthermore, if you want to test your alchemical skills, in some shops you can compose your own perfume, mixing the various essences available.
Dubai Spice Souk
Just a few steps from the Dubai Gold Souk you cannot miss the Spice Souk, also known as the Old Souk. Here from dawn to dusk dozens and dozens of merchants sell their colorful and fragrant spices.
This is a good place to take some nice pictures and maybe to buy some genuine spice to take home for your exotic culinary experiments. Oh, I forgot, here too it’s mandatory to bargain.
You can explore the Dubai’s Souks with an experienced local guide, who will show you all the hidden gems and tell you the secrets of Dubai Old Town (and maybe help you get a good price on your shopping!).
Interesting places nearby:
- AL BASTAKIYA (Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood)
- DUBAI MUSEUM
- DEIRA (Discover other things to do near the Gold Souk, such as some nice places to eat)
Dubai Gold Souk Timings
The opening hours of the Dubai Gold Souk in Deira are 10 AM to 10 PM from Saturday to Thursday, while on Fridays are 4 PM to 10 PM.
Best Time to Visit the Gold Souk
Most tourists come to Dubai in the period from September to May, when the weather is better and temperatures are milder. In those months the demand for gold increases and consequently prices could be higher.
How to Get to the Dubai Gold Souk
The Dubai Gold Souk is located in Deira. The closest metro station is Al Ras, on the green line. From there the Gold Souk can be reached with a short walk.
If you are in Bur Dubai you can get here by taking an abra across Dubai Creek. Once you are here in addition to the Gold Souk you can visit the entire Deira district (Old Dubai).