Furnishing a new home can be daunting at the best of times, let alone if you have just moved to a new country.
Here, we've broken down a few fail-safe starting points, from the shops to browse for essentials to Facebook groups that sell an entire apartment's worth of furniture in one go, with international brands and home-grown favourites to choose from.
You can find almost anything for sale in the classified sections of Dubizzle, the UAE's version of Craigslist or Gumtree. People sell individual items as well as entire rooms' worth of furniture if they are moving or renovating. There is always room for some haggling, or "best price?" texts, as anyone who has ever sold on Dubizzle will certainly know.
Top tip: As you would with a car, search for specific brands. If you know you like the aesthetic of certain stores, searching for that in the Dubizzle classifieds is worth a go. Although it's unlikely you'll get the exact piece you had your eye on in the mall, you could find something very similar.
There are plenty of second-hand furniture Facebook groups in the UAE, such as Buy&Sell Abu Dhabi & Dubai Second Hand and EK Cabin Crew Buy And Sell, to neighbourhood-specific pages like the JVC 2nd Hand Selling Page and Al Reem Island Community Items For Sale, and the more specific Upcycled Furniture Buy & Sell Dubai. They aren't all necessarily furniture-specific – you will see clothes, toys and cars posted, too, but entire homes' worth of furniture and accessories can be posted, often for good prices. It's worth joining a few and keeping an eye on them if you are looking for budget-friendly pieces quickly.
Top tip: You will often have to request to join the group, so plan ahead. But be ready to act fast when you see something you want, sellers are often looking for the quickest buyers, not necessarily the highest price.
Annie Sloan Furniture Renovation
Similar to the Upcycled Furniture Buy & Sell Dubai group is the Dubai Annie Sloan Furniture Renovation Group. Best described as a furniture renovation community, you will find people giving tips on how to best upcycle furniture using Annie Sloan chalk paints, as well as people who are selling second-hand pieces that they have already upgraded.
Top tip: This is where to look out for statement pieces, rather than items to furnish an entire home.
Find the Abu Dhabi upcycler and painter Vintage Finds on Facebook. The page features country and farmhouse-style furniture that has often been given a new lease of life with a good coat of paint.
Top tip: There are pieces posted for sale that have already been renovated, and the team also offer furniture refurbishing and painting services.
More information is available at www.facebook.com/VintagefindsAD
It won't take long for newbies to the UAE to hear about Lucky Furniture. The Sharjah warehouse sells solid-wood antique and antiqued furniture. The pieces can be bought as they come, or customised to the colour and size you are looking for. A good-sized dining table costs anywhere between Dh1,500 and Dh2,500 – although some of the antiques are on sale for as much as Dh15,000.
Located in the Jebel Ali Industrial Area is R2R Furniture, a company that will make custom beds and sofas for you. Simply show them a photo of a piece you have seen online with your required dimensions, and the company can recreate it for you. The company also offers reupholstering services to give older pieces of furniture a new look.
It is worth noting that R2R Furniture is only one such company – plenty of people you speak to will have experience dealing with similar outlets, and it's always worth following recommendations and testimonials from happy customers.
More information is available at www.r2rfurniture.com
New furniture, high-end
All of the main international brands are represented in the malls of the UAE, but there are also stores that have been launched in the Emirates that are well worth checking out, too.
For the more contemporary shopper, with an eye for quality and some money to spend, West Elm is the store for you. The US store has outlets at Dubai Mall and Dubai Hills Mall, and Abu Dhabi's The Galleria Al Maryah Island and Yas Mall. Catering for the whole home, you will find pieces for bedrooms, living spaces, kitchens and gardens in store.
More information is available at www.westelm.ae
Premium interiors store Marina Home started life as a warehouse in Dubai and now has stores in malls across the region. You will find heavy wooden furniture, statement accessories and standout decor in store, with pieces often sourced from across the Middle East, or items inspired by Arabic and Asian designs. Find Marina Home at Abu Dhabi Mall and Reem Mall in Abu Dhabi; in Al Barsha, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Mirdif in Dubai; and at Sharjah's Sahara Centre. You can also shop online.
More information is available at marinahomeinteriors.com
Another classic American brand, Pottery Barn caters to homely homemakers, with a full store collection as well as more playful kids' and teen ranges. Find Pottery Barn Dalma Mall, The Galleria Al Maryah Island and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Hills Mall, Dubai Mall and Mirdiff City Centre in Dubai.
More information is available at www.potterybarn.ae
This UAE-born store was conceptualised by Swede Thomas Lundgren as an "antidote" to Ikea. So expect personality by the barrel at this stylised furniture store. It offers living-room pieces, bedroom furniture, kitchen essentials and accessories and items for younger shoppers. There are stores across the UAE, including Dubai Hills Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Al Quoz, Jumeirah Beach Road and Jumeirah 1 in Dubai and at Al Ain Mall, Yas Mall and in the Mushrif Area in Abu Dhabi.
More information is available at www.theone.com
Crate and Barrel
For a more minimal aesthetic, turn to Crate and Barrel. The store has a focus on living and dining accessories and furniture, which means they sell everything from coffee-makers and egg timers to new sofa sets. The brand also sells bedroom furniture, so kitting out an entire home from Crate and Barrel is not an impossibility. In the UAE, there are only Crate and Barrel outlets in Dubai, at Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and City Centre Mirdif in Dubai.
More information is available at www.crateandbarrelme.com
New furniture, budget-friendly
For anyone looking to kit out a new home, a visit to Dragon Mart shouldn't be too far from the top of their to-do list. It is not only a place to buy furniture; it offers toys, food and electronics and is also a go-to for outdoor furniture, bedding and even renovation pieces like tiles and lighting. You will need to be prepared to spend time browsing a good number of stores, but the pay-off will be worth it when you get a full garden set for close to wholesale prices. Dragon Mart is in Dubai on Al Awir Road.
More information is available at www.dragonmart.ae
CB2 is a sister brand to Crate & Barrel, focused on selling more affordable furnishings. The brand sells primarily contemporary pieces and minimalist pieces and is located at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.
More information is available at www.cb2.ae
Jysk, pronounced yusk, is another chain of Scandinavian furniture superstores. There is almost always a sale in store, and you can pick up everything from storage solutions to accessories, beds, towels and sofas. Find Jysk in Dubai on Umm Suqeim Street, at City Centre Mirdif and Nakheel Mall and at World Trade Centre Mall, The Galleria Al Maryah Island and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi.
More information is available at jysk.ae
It is very likely you will be familiar with Ikea, the Swedish flat-pack furniture giant. Most of us have an item or two from the store in our homes, whether it's a bed, a wardrobe, a kitchen or merely cutlery and tumblers. There are a number of Ikea superstores across the UAE, including in Dubai Festival City, and on Yas Island and at Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi. There's also an Ikea ordering and collection point in Al Ain near Bawadi Mall. The company offers paid-for installation, assembly and delivery services.
More information is available at www.ikea.com/ae/en
At a Pan Home, formerly Pan Emirates, sale you will find sofas for as low as Dh300 and full dining sets from about Dh500, which proves that homes can be personalised on a budget. Naturally, not all of the pieces in store hover around low prices, but there are certainly bargains to be found. Pan Home has 17 stores across the UAE, including at Madina Mall and on Umm Suqeim Street in Dubai; at World Trade Centre Mall and Deerfields Mall in Abu Dhabi; on Al Wahda Street in Sharjah; in Al Ain Mall; in Al Hamra Mall, Ras Al Khaimah; and in Haleefath in Fujairah.
More information is available at www.panhomestores.com
Having started as a single store in Sharjah in 1995, Home Centre has grown to become a popular wallet-friendly option, with more than 100 stores in the Middle East and India. It offers everything from lighting and kids' accessories to bath and laundry items, bedroom decor and living-space essentials. There are 14 stores across the Emirates.
More information is available at www.homecentre.com
The brand offers classic furnishings with ostentatious finishings, as well as minimalist accessories that would please many a millennial eye.
It is worth browsing 2XL for some of your finishing touches and to add personality to your home. Find 2XL at the Regus Building and City Centre Al Zahia in Sharjah; on Al Muntasir Road in Ras Al Khaimah; in Abu Dhabi at Marina Mall, The Galleria Al Maryah Island and Dalma Mall; in Al Ain Mall; and in Dubai on Al Wasl Road in Jumeirah and Park Centre Mirdif.
More information is available at www.2xlme.com
Watch Out For Sales
It is often said that you don't need to buy anything for full price in the UAE. Of course, when needs must, you will purchase the essentials, but it is also worth holding out for Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha, Ramadan, Dubai Shopping Festival, the Abu Dhabi Summer Shopping Season and Dubai Summer Surprises sales. Prices are slashed at malls across the UAE, with interiors and home stores regularly having some of the best bargains.