Dubai may be home
to the biggest mall in the world and
consumerism might possibly be in the city’s very DNA -- but there are alternatives
to chain store shopping for luxury labels. The city has a growing independent
shopping scene, hidden in detached villas or smaller community malls, that will
ensure you go home with something more exciting than the ubiquitous Gucci,
Prada or Chanel items.
independent boutiques, which have sprung up over the last decade, are owned by
both expats and Emiratis who are keen to bring smaller designer labels to the
city or to launch local talent. If you want to discover Dubai’s more creative
side, here are the stand outs:
For vintage: Bambah and The Zoo
Taking the “his-and-hers” concept literally, Bambah
and The Zoo are two separate stores in one chic villa opposite the rather
sad Dubai Zoo. Bambah is a beautifully decorated vintage clothing store, with women’s
clothes and accessories helpfully grouped by decade and artfully arranged on
the owner’s grandmother’s furniture. The Zoo is home to funky men’s T-shirts,
quirky gadgets and nostalgic memorabilia like retro telephones.
For furniture: O Concept
A crazy pop art/industrial warehouse full of furniture, accessories and the odd
rack of clothes, O Concept (Jumeirah 1, near Saladicious, Jumeirah
Beach Road; 971-4-345-5557) is
the brainchild of Emirati-owner Omar Bin Khediya. Luxury items get weird here with Ferrari-branded neo-classical chairs next to kitsch
pop art and futuristic-looking furniture. It is not cheap, but if you are looking
for a statement piece, this is the right place.
For fashionistas: S*uce
which has blazed the trail for local
designers and stocks hard-to-find, of-the-moment global names, is the mother of
all independent boutiques. Although its main store is now in the Dubai
Mall, the original is still in the smaller Village Mall in the Jumeirah area. Find
the latest neon handbags from Fyunka, eye-popping bracelets and achingly hip
dresses from Zahan Ghandour, as well as limited collections from up-and-coming
UAE talents like Dima Amad. These designers live, breathe and work the latest
looks, so you had better keep an eye on your credit card in here.
For homewares: O De Rose
A one-stop-shop for interiors, home accessories and some fashion too, O De Rose
is the place to head for an upmarket ethnic feel. All of its pieces have a free-spirited
sense of style, from Moroccan glass tea cups to bold African patterned
cushions, while Arabic calligraphy-inspired canvases hang next to colourful depictions
of Indian deities. Also housed in a villa, O De Rose takes advantage of the
homely set up: feel free to sit for a
while in the rose-scented garden with its cooling fountain.
For presents: Antiques Museum
Do not believe either word in the title, this dusty
warehouse (Al Quoz, behind Times Square Mall; 971-4-347-9935) in the
industrial Al Quoz area is not a museum, nor does it sell antiques. It is,
however, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of Arabic trinkets, from glass mosaic
hanging candle holders, to tagine dishes and carved wooden furniture. You can
lose hours in the massive warehouse where everything is piled high in narrow
corridors, but keep browsing and the staff will bring you cups of tea and water
to keep you going.
For art: ProArt gallery
Pretty much the only gallery in the UAE to regularly show street art, the small,
unpretentious ProArt gallery is the
place to pick up a print of some of the finest handlers of spray paint, like
Banksy, Blek le Rat or Shepard Fairey. Keep an eye on the website for future
exhibitions; 2012 has already played host to a “Street Art Legends” retrospective
and currently there is a focus on modern Indian art.
The article 'Indie shopping in Dubai' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.