Did you know that Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is considered as one of the richest cities in the world? What’s even more amazing is that this city has both modern and traditional features… a combination of the old with the new!
Take shopping, for example. You can buy all sorts of items in modern malls and shopping centers located across the city. At the same time, you can buy perfumes, spices, and handicrafts in souks (traditional markets). In this article, we will talk about the many types of souvenirs that you can buy in Abu Dhabi!
Top Things to Buy in Abu Dhabi
No matter how long you stay, you shouldn’t forget to take a “remembrance” of Abu Dhabi with you. And here are some items that we believe make the best souvenirs:
1. Arabic Coffee
Strong, mixed with ground spices, and has a distinct after taste — Arabic coffee is something that coffee lovers shouldn’t miss! Since it is rather strong, it’s best to sip Arabic coffee little by little. Add some sugar or a date (fruit) to make it sweeter!
2. Arabic Coffeepot
Of course, if you enjoyed the coffee, why not get a “dallah” (coffeepot) to go with it? Arabic coffeepots come in a wide assortment of designs and colors. It can be made of steel, silver, brass, and even gold! It’s the perfect gift for your loved ones… and for yourself, too!
Traditional lanterns are typically displayed during the festive seasons. Made of copper or tin, each lantern features an intricate design, with cut-outs that produce a delightful play of lights and colors. You can hang it up or simply place it on a table!
4. Carpets and Rugs
The UAE, and the entire Middle East for that matter, is known for its beautiful carpets and rugs. Made from strong fabric with unique designs, these pieces are a reflection of the region’s colourful history! Be sure to take home a carpet or rug as a statement piece for your living room or bedroom!
Lamps in Abu Dhabi come in all shapes and sizes, but perhaps the most popular is the “Aladdin” lamp, alluding to the popular story of a young boy and a powerful genie. Visit the souks to see the wide variety of Aladdin lamps that they offer!
6. Shisha Pipe
Shisha is widely used in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE, especially among elderly males. If you have ever tried shisha and you’d like to bring some home, don’t worry because there are many shops where you can buy shisha pipes.
Arabic cuisine makes use of different types of spices, and if you love to cook, then you should definitely bring some home! The most popular spice is called “baharat,” which actually means “mixed spices.” It is a combination of cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, and other spices. Try it so you can “spice up” your dishes!
A trip to Abu Dhabi would not be complete without dates. Dates are not only widespread in the Middle East; it also plays an important cultural role. During the month of Ramadan, dates are usually the first fruit to be eaten to “break” the fast. It is also mentioned in the Holy Quran many times!
Notably, there are more than 200 varieties of dates in the UAE. You can buy them in most grocery stores and souks, especially at the Mina Dates Market. Aside from the fresh and dried varieties, there are date candies, dates covered with chocolate, and many more. Awesome!
9. Sougha Art
At the Abu Dhabi Central Market (or souk), there’s a shop called Sougha. This term literally means “traveler’s gift” in Arabic. It is actually an initiative established by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development (KFED) program.
Basically, the shop features artworks and handicrafts that represent the city’s history and culture. Here, you will find bags, table runners, pillows, bracelets, and other accessories that you can bring home as gifts!
Shawls are the perfect gift — they are useful, practical, and beautiful! They come in all sorts of colors, designs, and materials, too. Just take a quick walk around the souks in Abu Dhabi and you are sure to find plenty of shawls that you can bring home for your friends!
11. Camel Milk Chocolate
Camels are wonderful animals. They’re great for transportation along the desert, and watching a camel race is a great experience, indeed! What’s more, camels produce sweet, low-fat milk. That’s right! For a sweet — yet not so guilty pleasure — grab some camel milk chocolate, which are sold in every Abu Dhabi supermarket!
12. Arabic Perfume
Have you ever tried putting on some “attar” (Arabic perfume)? Well, now is the time to do so! Arabic perfumes are typically made from plants and come in a variety of scents. Some perfume stores even offer the option to create your own scent. Go ahead and try them!
Speaking of perfume, sometimes you may want to liven up your home with beautiful aromas. In this case, you can buy some “bakhoor,” or agarwood chips that have been soaked in aromatic oils. Basically, you place some bakhoor in an incense burner, light them up, and relax as the wonderful smell fills the air!
Another classic perfume is the “oud,” which is a fragrance oil that is also made from agarwood resin. Traditionally worn by Arabic men and women, oud is dubbed as the “black gold” among perfumes, and is definitely worth the price!
15. Pearl Jewellery
Long before oil was discovered in the UAE, the people thrived on the pearling and fishing industries. Using traditional dhow boats, divers would jump and look for pearls. Today, you can still find pearl jewellery in stores across the country.
16. Gold Jewellery
And last, but certainly not the least, there’s gold. Abu Dhabi gold is beautiful, high quality, and relatively more affordable compared to those in other places. Your loved ones will certainly be delighted to receive gold jewellery from Abu Dhabi!
As you can see, there is a wide range of products that you can bring home as souvenirs from Abu Dhabi. There are things that you can consume (e.g. dates, coffee), things you can wear (e.g. shawls, jewellery), and things you can display around the house (e.g. dallah, carpets). Whether you plan to give them as gifts or for personal use, these things will surely remind you of this amazing city!
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