As home to the world’s biggest – as well as some of the most famous – malls, Dubai is known as a retail haven. But if you’re looking to take a break from the glitz and glamour of mall-crawling – or have very niche products on your need-to-buy list – it might be time to take the road less travelled.
Here’s a look at a few lesser-known stores in the UAE, and why they warrant a visit.
Despite its name, Antique Museum – located in Dubai’s Al Quoz – is less of a museum and more of a vast storage facility and retail space. And, if you’re looking for offbeat souvenirs or a steal, this is as good as it gets.
The 6,690-square-metre space features a wide and eclectic range of goods, from handcrafted furniture and authentic Arabic coffee pots to a gamut of frames, vases, sculptures and more. Check it out if you’re on the hunt for unique products and have a couple of hours to spare.
Open daily, 9am-8.30pm; Al Quoz, Dubai; 04 347 9935; fakihonline.com
Whether it’s for a creative project, a prank, a themed party or a murder-mystery night, this store in Al Barsha has everything you could possibly need to get into character.
From high-quality wigs to superhero costumes to everything in between, it’s a veritable paradise for the dramatic. Just ensure you don’t visit a day before Halloween when the store is at its busiest.
Open daily; 9am to 10pm; Umm Suqeim Street, Al Barsha 2; 04 394 0448; mystiquecostumes.com
Back to Games
Fancy a dose of nostalgia or looking to try something new? Back to Games in Times Square Centre Dubai should be on your radar. The humble store is packed with everything from role-playing games (think Dungeons and Dragons) to miniatures for collectors.
If you’re not sure about what to get, the staff are more than happy to offer knowledgeable advice. As the store’s motto goes, it’s time to get your geek on.
Open daily; 10am-10pm; ground floor, Times Square Centre Dubai; 050 334 6066; backtogames.com
If you’re looking to pick up a statement piece of furniture or an exclusive decor element, you might want to make a beeline for this eccentric little shop in Al Quoz.
La Brocante is inspired by flea markets found in other parts of the world and sells a range of second-hand products you probably won’t be able to find elsewhere. From antique beds to vintage movie posters, it’s a real treasure trove if you’re thinking of redecorating, and the stock is constantly changing.
La Brocante hosts bimonthly pop-up events on weekends, during which shoppers can sip on coffee from Loose Unicorns, check out work from local artists and browse for bargains.
Biweekly pop up events; for more information, follow instagram.com/labrocantedxb
This quaint store in Jumeirah Plaza was launched by husband-wife duo Shanker and Mala Ramakrishnan in 2016. From needles to materials, the store is packed to the brim with everything a quilter could possibly need while the space also showcases gorgeous tapestries – some of which are years in the making.
Apart from selling any materials you could need and imparting the necessary know-how, the store is also home to workshops and meet-ups with quilting groups in the UAE. A stellar place if you’re looking to get involved with the hobby.
Art of Guitar
Art of Guitar is a one-of-a-kind store located in Al Quoz’s Courtyard that specialises in high-end, vintage guitars. According to founder Rick Vlemmiks, the space meets a gap in the regional market thanks to its handmade masterpieces, many of which are presented as works of art within the store.
Memorabilia from some of rock music’s most historical moments can also be bought, including old posters of The Doors and the Grateful Dead as well as original photographs of The Beatles in recording sessions. Signed portraits of Def Leppard, Albert Lee, George Harrison, Liam Gallagher and Eric Clapton are also up for grabs.
During the cooler months, Art of Guitar also intends to become a venue for local artists to perform, setting up an ad hoc stage in the Courtyard.
The Flip Side
Another Alserkal Avenue spot for music lovers, The Flip Side has widely been credited with reviving vinyl culture in the UAE. You’ll find a carefully curated selection of tunes in boxes divided by genres, with the walls lined with records and posters featuring western and Middle Eastern artists.
Since its launch in 2017, the store has become something of a hub for like-minded music aficionados and it holds regular meet-ups and events.
You don’t need to hop on a plane to get a taste of Japanese culture – you can find it over at Kirakuya, a quaint Japanese mart that opened earlier this year.
Located in a quiet corner of Mina Rashid, the minimart stocks a range of products from food items, toys and key chains to mobile phone cases, all of which are imported from Japan. The store also features a quirky exterior, complete with adorable kawaii drawings that light up at night. Perfect if you’re looking to pick up hard-to-find items such as Hokkaido milk or authentic Japanese Kit-Kat.
Open daily; 10am to 11pm; Shop 14, Marina Cubes Street, Port Rashid, Dubai; instagram.com/kirakuya.ae