Furnishing a new home can be daunting at the best of times, let alone in a new country. Here we have 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 item by item, and also sell entire rooms-worth of furniture if they are moving or totally renovating. There is always room for a little haggling or "best price?" texts, as anyone who has ever sold on Dubizzle will certainly know
Top tip: As you would 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 the broader Second HandDubai, Abu Dhabi Online Market Place, and Buy&Sell Abu Dhabi & Dubai Second Hand, to neighbourhood-specific pages like the JVC 2nd Hand Selling Page, Reem Island Market 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.
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.
It won't take long for any newbies to the UAE to hear about Lucky Furniture. The Sharjah warehouse-based furniture outlet sells solid wood antique and antiqued furniture. The pieces can be bought as they come, or customised to the colour and size customers are looking for. A good-sized dining table at Lucky Furniture costs anywhere between Dh1,500 and Dh2,500 – although some of the antique items are on sale for as much as Dh15,000.
Based 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, and the company can recreate if for you. They also offer reupholstering services to give older pieces of furniture a new look. It is worth nothing 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
Vintage Finds – Hand Painted Furniture
Find the Abu Dhabi-based upcycler and painter 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. There are pieces posted for sale that have already been renovated, and the team also offer furniture refurbishing and painting services.
New – High End
All of the main international interiors 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 The Dubai Mall and Abu Dhabi's 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.me
A popular home-grown furniture brand, premium interiors store Marina Home started life as a warehouse in Dubai, and has now grown to have 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, Al Barsha, The Dubai Mall, The Walk at JBR, Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Mirdif and at Sharjah's Sahara Centre.
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 at Dalma Mall and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi and The Dubai Mall and City Centre Mirdif in Dubai.
More information is available at www.potterybarn.ae
This UAE-born store was first 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 Al Wasl Road in Jumeirah 3, Mall of the Emirates, Al Quoz, Jumeirah Beach Road in Jumeirah 1 and Wafi Mall in Dubai, at the Al Ain Mall, and in the Mushrif Area and Yas Mall 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, so you're as likely to pick up a coffee maker or egg timer as you are to take home a new sofa set, if you're so inclined. It also sells bedroom furniture, so kitting out an entire home from Crate and Barrel is not an impossibility. Find the store at Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Mirdif in Dubai.
More information is available at www.crateandbarrelme.com
ID Design and Chattels & More
Danish store ID Design has recently part-rebranded to Chattels & More. Despite the name change, it still sells sleek Scandi furniture in the UAE. It offers everything from plush sofas to inviting beds and modern accessories. Find the brand as Chattels & More at Abu Dhabi's Dalma Mall; City Centre Mirdif and Mall of the Emirates in Abu Dhabi, and as ID Design on Al Ittihad Road in Deira.
New – 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 browse many a store, 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
A fairly new offering on the Dubai furniture scene is Jysk, pronounced yusk, which 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 BurJuman Mall. One is also set to open at WTC Abu Dhabi later this year.
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 Ikea in our homes, whether it's beds, wardrobes, kitchens or merely cutlery and tumblers. There are a number of Ikea superstores across the UAE, including at Dubai's Festival City and Abu Dhabi's Yas Island; a second Dubai store will open in Jebel Ali later this year. Ikea offers paid-for installation, assembly and delivery services.
More information is available at www.ikea.com/ae/en
At a 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 in store and online. Find Pan Emirates in Dubai's Madina Mall, on Umm Suqeim Street in Al Barsha; in Abu Dhabi's WTC Mall, Deerfields Mall and Al Falah Street, on Alwahda Street in Sharjah; on Baladiya Street and Remal Mall in Al Ain and on Mohammad Bin Mattar Road in Fujairah.
More information is available at www.panemirates.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
2XL offers very classic furnishings with ostentatious finishings, as well as minimalist accessories which 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 in Sharjah; in Fujairah Mall; in Abu Dhabi at Marina Mall, Al Mushref and Dalma Mall; at Al Ain's Remal Mall; in Dubai on Al Wasl Road in Jumierah, Al Ghurair Centre and Uptown Mirdif Mall.
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, Abu Dhabi Spring Sale 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.