What’s On profiles teams up with ‘good’ for a Dragon Mart guide, shopping in Dubai experience you must enjoy, not least for the weird things you can buy.

Boutique shopping
Retro shopping
How to haggle
Buying Fairtrade
– Dubai souks – guide

Interior designer Sonia Sultan isn’t fazed by mega mall Dragon Mart, seeking out bargains there on a regular basis, buying for her own home and for clients. We persuaded her to open her little black book…

One of the first places I was told to visit when I landed in Dubai was Dragon Mart. As an avid shopper and an interior designer, those who knew me well knew that this would be my kind of place. And they were right.

Be prepared to put on your most comfortable shoes if you plan on discovering the full 1.2km dragon-shaped beast. From sports, fashion, interior decor and architectural accessories to electrical goods, medicines and garden accessories, Dragon Mart is a shopper’s delight. Once you know where to go.

When my husband and I moved into our house last year there were many interior jobs that needed to be done, starting with the all important window coverings. The choices in Dubai are overwhelming, from the cheaper stores located in Naif Road to the up market stores along Sheikh Zayed Road. However after many trips to Dragon Mart I was tempted to try one of the many stores dotted around the GB Zone. After walking around the area

I found the following:

  • Each shop had a different selection of materials.
  • Most of the styles were either very gawdy and strewn with intricate patterns and bold colours or very plain. There are not many self embossed fabrics and the few which are available are very pricey.
  • Bargain, bargain, bargain.

I was fairly impressed with the selection and chose a few different and very simple styles for my house from Happy Home Trading in the GB Zone. Two days later someone came to measure all the windows and gave me an estimate. Within a week my curtains were ready and I chose to go pick them up and brought back someone from the store who put them all up. The total cost of the coverings for 15 windows came to Dhs3,500 (bargained down from Dhs4,500) and I was charged a flat rate of Dhs500 for hanging. The cost of hanging is usually determined by window size and type of covering, but if you buy in bulk they give you a flat rate. If, unlike me, you don’t want to do the trip to Dragon Mart again, you also have the option to get the curtains and staff sent to your home, for which you will cover the transportation cost.

Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of product and service, the speed at which everything was done and the phenomenal price. However, the one down side is that you have to choose the fabrics for the coverings when you are in Dragon Mart as they are unable to bring any fabric books to your house, which means that if you decide to change your mind you have to go all the way back to select a new fabric.

Dragon Mart guide - map of the shopping mall

Another big cost, which we would have incurred had we not blistered our feet walking around Dragon Mart, would have been that of outdoor furniture. I had started my search in Dubai, but was so disheartened with the prices that I assumed I would be buying plastic furniture. That was until I discovered the oasis that is Sungold Outdoor Furniture in the BB Zone. Their selection is outstanding and the prices are very affordable; for an outdoor gazebo, two-seater rattan sofa, rattan coffee table, two rattan armchairs and an entire rattan dining table with six chairs we paid Dhs6,000, including delivery. Now compare that to Dhs4,999 for just the dining table and chairs at one particular Dubai store, and you’ll understand my sheer joy at discovering this gem on the first floor of the mall!

A few smaller purchases which we made (and were surprised to find) were light switches and dimmers for the house. Where one dimmer cost us Dhs120 at ACE we paid Dhs25 at Dragon Mart. Head to the BB Zone and don’t forget to bargain!

As an interior designer who tries to follow current trends I was in love with the idea of a stone wall in my bedroom, having seen them all over the interiors world last year. As I walked around the GA Zone, I noticed they had many options for outdoor stone so I thought why not use that indoors too? I chose a grey linear mosaic wall for which I paid Dhs600 and another Dhs600 for delivery and installation, which was done two days later by workers recommended by the store. It took them a total of two hours to transform my white-walled bedroom into my dream room.

Another great find were glass apothecary jars. The trend for these beauties has been creeping up everywhere. As well as being great decoration pieces they are also great for storage. After hunting high and low for these in Dubai and having no luck I found an entire glassware store in the IB Zone solely dedicated to any type of glass decoration a girl could want. I was surprised to even find the hanging glass collection, which I had only seen in West Elm to date. The fact that I was paying Dhs45 for an apothecary jar, which would have cost me four times as much to ship from the US, was very welcome indeed.

As someone who professionally deals with interiors on a daily basis I can tell you that the quality for the price you pay is very decent. I have seen wood floors which I would happily use in clients’ houses and wallpaper which will add the regal glamour which so many of my clients often crave. I would love to spend a lot more time in the lighting section located in the BB Zone as I have no doubt that I will find some true diamonds in the rough. However, it is always easy to get carried away in situations where the prices are so low, so make sure you know exactly what you are looking for when you enter. Moreover, take a step back and look at the product many times before committing to buy, as you want to ensure that your product still looks expensive and of good quality. And most importantly never forget to bargain. You’ll be surprised at how much you will save.