Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be moving to a foreign country to live, let alone a country in the Middle East. Over the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my husband Roger and I discussed what we wanted the next part of our life to be like. He thought that before retiring, he would like to do one more airport project but only if he could find something very interesting. I half-jokingly agreed that would be fine but could he try for an exotic location? As usual, Roger came through and soon we were headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This blog is a recap of our "leap-of- faith" wanderings around the Middle East and beyond. We joyfully share these expat experiences.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Where is the most unique shopping scene in Dubai?

Dubai, like everything else here, takes shopping to the ultimate!

This amazing city is infamous for the extravagance of its shopping experiences. You can gorge yourself at the mega malls, one has more than 1200 stores, packed with every ultra-expensive designer and luxury brand known to woman. You can click right through ever expanding online shopping sites, save at multiple Duty Free Stores at the airport or scrounge for bargains at an outlet mall located in the desert. Shop around the world at Global Village or wander narrow passageways scavenging the traditional souqs for spices, textiles and heaven knows what else.

To tempt shoppers even more, Dubai offers two city wide shopping festivals a year where more than 6,000 stores offer heavy discounts. In fact, retail accounts for around 30 percent of the gross domestic product in Emirate of Dubai.

This is all well and good but maybe you are looking for something more? . . . something priceless?

Where is the most unique shopping experience in Dubai?

Dubai's real shopping treasure is down a dusty unpaved road in the industrial area of Al Quoz #1.

Good friends Angela Martin &
Carol Critchon on their
first Antique Museum foray!!
The Antique Museum. This was one of the first places my good friend Anne O’Connell took me to when I arrived in Dubai in 2010. It was July – need I remind you that summer temperatures here hit 120 degrees on a good day – and the un-air-conditioned cavernous warehouses were looming dark and dusty in the afternoon heat.

Carmen Clarke loves this place!

A pleasant guard shows us to the entrance and we climb through a small antique wooden door, and over its rather high threshold, emerging into an attractive office. There sitting behind a desk wearing a big welcoming grin is the proprietor Bob, destined to become one of my best Dubai friends. We proceed to spent more than four hours rummaging around the vast and infinite collection of amazing “stuff!”

The Antique Museum, operated by the Fakih Group, is an “over-the-top” eclectic collection of souvenirs, gifts, antiques, and handicrafts, lamps, decorative items, oils, perfumes, jewelry, furniture, clothing items and too much more to list. It even has a first-class framing shop.

Plan to take the afternoon exploring because this is a not a place you go through quickly. Spread across four warehouses –all recently air-conditioned, thank you Bob - there is real danger here of sensory overload as you gorge yourself on a dizzy array of goods arranged in various sections connected by narrow stuffed aisles – and don’t forget to look up, even the ceilings are chuck full of goodies.

Jani Diedam cooling off!
But here is the most important part – this enterprise, operating in Dubai for over 21 years, supports the disadvantaged and disabled in 12 countries. The company facilitates training and provides jobs by operated manufacturing operations employing thousands who produce many of the beautiful goods sold in the Antique Museum. 

Operating in India, Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia, China, Burma, Vietnam, Turkey, Cambodia, Philippines, Africa and the UAE, the Fakih Group provides its workers with a very equitable wages and good working conditions enabling the otherwise unemployable the opportunity to support themselves and their families.

The company’s philosophy is “Let the customers participate in our campaign of charity work.” They accomplish this by channeling the work of craftsmen and artisans to manufacture high quality handicraft items based on traditional and modern designs that you and I can enjoy.

As all good things must come to an end so has bargaining at the Antique Museum. They now have set prices but they are still very good prices and the bonus is you can feel good about your purchases. You are an active participant in the civic engagement of helping someone feed and educate their family.

Postscripts . . . 

Personal favorites . . . a must stop before any trip home – such great prices for the unique gift items my family has come to look forward to; my favorite purchase – an antique tea pot that good friend and neighbor Linda Kingston found for me; the one item I am dying for but we haven’t purchased yet – I am told it is not for sale – the life-size horse made from chips of wood – I am certain there is a more glamorous way to describe this incredible object but it escapes me. It is simply awesome; the one thing I want to replicate in our home – when you leave the front office to go into the warehouse catch the floor right there . . .a mosaic of cut glass and stones . . . I want one of these!

Shopping hints:
1) Dress coolly, while Bob has the warehouses air conditioned now it still can get a bit sticky as you work up a “shopping” sweat.
2) Give yourself enough time to savor the experience this is truly one of Dubai’s treasures.
3) Go back again and again . . . each time I wandering the passageways I discover exquisite new items.

How to get there . . .coming from Dubai Marina take Sheikh Zayed Road towards Dubai and exit at Marabea’ Street (Exit 42) and follow signs to Marabea’ taking your first right then a left. This road ends at Marabea’ Street . . . turn right and move quickly to the far left lane turning left at the light (8th Street). . . go on until to see on your right the big blue Kanoo Building at the light - turn right. Look on the right for a very small mosque sitting on a corner – look for the microphones up in the trees which are the easiest to see – turn right and the Antique Museum is on your right
. . . . coming from old Dubai take Sheikh Zayed Road toward Abu Dhabi exit at Marabea’ Street . . . as you travel the overpass move to the left lane and turn left at the light (8th Street) . . . go on until to see on your right the big blue Kanoo Building at the light - turn right. Look on the right for a very small mosque sitting on a corner – look for the microphones up in the trees which are the easiest to see – turn right and the Antique Museum is on your right.

Telephone: +971 (0) 4 347 9935
Web site:

Katie & Bob


  1. I always take my visitors here - they love its quirkiness.

    1. Looking for places to sell your stuff for free? Don’t pay selling or listing fees. You should be able to sell your stuff on this websites unless you’re selling it above market value. where can i sell my stuff online

  2. Hi Katie,
    I remember that trip to Bob's with you! It was stinking hot! Say hi to him for me next time you go. I lost count of how many times I took visitors and newcomers to Bob's Warehouse (I can't get used to calling it the Dubai Antique Museum). I even made annual trips by myself just before Christmas to pick up little gifts and stocking stuffers (and those awesome silk gift bags perfectly shaped for wine bottles) and many trips to have pictures framed :) I'll try to find an equally wonderful 'hidden treasure' here in Thailand for when you guys come to visit.

    Happy shopping,

  3. Heard a lot about Bob's from many happy shoppers. I have to make the trip one of these days. Love the post and photos.

    1. I would be happy to take you there anytime.

      NEWS FLASH Antique Museum is having its first SALE starting today,Oct 17!!!

  4. The Gold Souk is also a place to check out. Gold accessories can be bought here at a bargain; as well as other goods that large malls typically has but at a lower price.

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  6. I’m trampled by your contents carry on the wonderful work.

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  7. Where is the most unique shopping experience in Dubai?

    Dubai's real shopping treasure is down a dusty unpaved road in the industrial area of Al Quoz #1.

    Great, thank you for sharing your experience!

  8. Really Nice Blog Post. Thanks for sharing this interesting post about shopping.
    warehouses in Dubai