The Carpet Souk is the ideal place to shop for carpets when in Abu Dhabi. This place is literally flooded with carpets with almost 100 stores selling Yemeni mattresses, Persian rugs, afghani carpets, silk rugs, handwoven carpets, prayer rugs, wool carpets and other beautiful upholstery goods. While you might find hand made ones a little less on perfection, you can easily switch for the machine made ones. But, the hand made ones are high on craftsmanship and are generally expensive.
This mall is one of the favoured destinations by the locals and residents alike. Definitely check out the souk if you want to experience the traditional Arabic shopping. It is built on the place where the first souk of Abu Dhabi was set up. The stained window class, rich tapestries, wood lattice furnishings give the mall a very antique and elegant look. If you want a peaceful place to shop at, head over to the Souk Central Market. Here you will find traditional artefacts, spices, henna, jewellery, antiques, oils, Arabic perfumes, lamps, clothing accessories, sculptures, paintings, carpets, camel figurines and many local hand crafted products. Spanning three floors of authentic arabic shopping, the central market also has rooftop gardens and cafes. However, this remains mostly shaded and sheltered by the tall buildings around.
The Al Mina Souk is also one of the most popular souks in Abu Dhabi. It is located near the bridge for Saadiyat Island. It is basically a fish and vegetable souk but you will find a few stalls selling dates and flowers as well. When you visit the market in the morning, it looks so vibrant as all the sellers display their produce systematically on benches and stools. The Al Mina Fish Souk is said to be the oldest and largest fish market in the country where you will find every possible variety of fresh fish. You will get a glimpse of the good old Abu Dhabi here. The carpet souk is situated nearby, so can visit that too in one go.
The Iranian Souk is situated right next to the dhow harbour. Since the souk is located right next to the dhow, you even watch the traditional dhows return from the sea. Being here will take you back to the time when traditional wooden dhows were unloaded at the shores and transported by donkeys to various sellers. It has many stalls huddled together selling original and authentic products from Iran and other countries in the region.
The Souk Al Zafarana is a place which reflects true and traditional Emirati culture. Hence it is also a nice place to shop for souvenirs. The place sells beautiful embroidered traditional arabic outfits and textiles, henna, spices, perfumes (oud), spices, incense, dallah (arabian coffee pots), arabian trinkets, traditional handicrafts, carpets, lamps, nuts and a variety of other things. Mubdia Village is a section staffed exclusively by women and only women shoppers are allowed in here. Bargaining is a sure thing here so try haggling as when you can.
These souks are the ultimate destinations for getting souvenirs for your loved ones. Apart from that, walking through the streets and alleyways, talking to shop owners and stall owners will let you learn about traditions and cultures of Abu Dhabi.