Once anyone planning a shopping splurge in the UAE would head straight for Dubai, now with a string of new malls and luxury boutiques joining its traditional Souks, Abu Dhabi is fast-becoming a new favourite.
Not only does it offer an excellent variety of shopping experiences, the Emirates capital’s also known for its fascinating Al Bateen Shipyard, iconic Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque and its high dunes and long sand valleys, perfect for dune bashing.
With cheap flights to Abu Dhabi meaning you have more time leftover to spend in the shops, all you need to worry about is which mall to hit first. Whether you’re after a new watch, or a Persian rug, here’s our guide on where to shop in Abu Dhabi.
Located in Abu Dhabi’s new Central Business District on Al Marayah Island, this spectacular waterfront complex boasts more than 130 brands, including Diane von Furstenberg, Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Moschino, Pucci, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga.
The impressive new building, with sculptured high ceilings and two good food courts, make this an enjoyable place to shop, especially if you’re on the hunt for couture.
Avenue at Etihad Towers
Describing itself as “a boutique lifestyle destination”, Avenue at Etihad Towers features 34 prestigious brands located in one of Abu Dhabi’s most stylish and iconic landmarks.
This dramatically luxurious location is home to one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive collections of boutique shops, with brands including Cartier, Givenchy, Rolex, Tom Ford, Lanvin, Versace, Hermès and Chloé.
Add to that the fact that many stores here have luxurious private rooms and it’s a VIP shoppers’ paradise.
An upmarket mall found at the base of the twin Nation towers, Nation Galleria is home to a selection of high-end boutiques with elegant cafés and restaurants. The combination of its stylish ambience and incredible terrace views have seen it become one of Abu Dhabi’s chicest social venues.
Brands include Lamborghini, Porsche Design, Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor and Villeroy and Boch.
Just 10 minutes from Abu Dhabi’s airport is its biggest shopping centre, Yas Mall. The UAE’s second largest mall, its 235,000 square metres of bright and plant-covered space offers shoppers quality high street brands from around the world such as Cos, Mango and Bershka, the biggest Debenhams outside the UK, and designer stores, such as DKNY and Calvin Klein. There are also cinemas and more than 60 eateries to choose from within this recently opened mall, including the high-tech Rogo’s Rollercoaster Restaurant , where your food arrives from the kitchen via a series of elaborate roller coaster rails that run through the two story dining area.
For a break from shopping you can access Ferrari World from the mall, a racing fan’s dream and home to high adrenaline rides including the world’s fastest roller coaster.
One of Abu Dhabi’s longer-established shopping centres, Marina Mall is as well known for its entertainment options as it is for its selection of stores. Its 400 shops (a mixture of international high street and regional brands) are joined by an ice rink, bowling village, indoor playground and Cineplex, as well as a 100 metre viewing platform, revolving restaurant and the new Marina Eye Ferris wheel.
Abu Dhabi Mall
The central Abu Dhabi Mall, which experiences around 40,000 visitors a day, thanks to its popularity with residents and tourists alike. Here you’ll find big name brands alongside shops with a more local feel, selling everything from sweets and nuts to ouds (perfumes), all in an elegant waterfront setting.
World Trade Centre Mall
Another one of Abu Dhabi’s new shopping centres on the block, the World Trade Centre Mall boasts the first House of Fraser outside the UK alongside a host of other popular brands.
It also features plenty of terraces, pretty roof gardens and two atriums with fully retractable roofs, perfect for those who want to experience a bit of sunshine while they shop.
There’s much more to the Abu Dhabi shopping experiences than its malls. The colourful Al Mina Fruit & Vegetable Souk and nearby Fish Souk provide an excellent insight into local life and some great photo opportunities. Several of Abu Dhabi’s other souks provide the perfect opportunity to pick up gifts and try out your haggling skills.
At Al Ain Souk, also known as the Central or Old Souk, you’ll find traders selling a little bit of everything in the centre of town, The Carpet Souk is the place to barter over rugs and cushion covers, while Souk Al Bawadi is the best bet if you’re shopping for traditional gifts. You can also see the modern and traditional combined at Souk Al Zafarana, which has stalls selling everything from incense to clothing.
For a contemporary take on the Abu Dhabi market experience, head to the World Trade Centre Souk, where you can buy traditional wares in an elegant modern setting.
Those looking for gold should head to Madinat Zayed Shopping & Gold Centre, for dazzling displays of precious stone and metals.