11 home-grown brands in Dubai (and where to buy from them)
Whether it’s fashion or furniture you’re after, Dubai’s shopping scene has never been more interesting.
From pop-up markets such as Ripe and Arte to cool stores in Al Quoz and a growing array of online boutiques, there’s no end of choice for those seeking something a little bit different. Here’s a handful of our favourite local stores.
01. For classy tastes: 24:35 (buy in store)
Hiba Nadeem’s high-end homeware is a treasure trove of gifts. Creating ‘modern heirlooms’ she hopes will stand the test of time, the British-Pakistani designer uses patterns and textures of the natural world (including candles housed inside Himalayan salts). You can find the collection in ConceptMe – which is in Al Quoz (find more info on that space here).
02. For the adventurer: Above Sandboards (buy at Go Sports or Adventure HQ)
If you haven’t tried this high-octane sport yet, why not head out to the dunes while the weather’s mild? Aussie designer Simon Hunt’s been doing it for decades – and has developed his own line of sandboards (Dhs700 to Dhs1,200) to get the best out of the Arabian Gulf’s dry climate. Inspired by both the surfing and snowboarding communities, Hunt builds sleek, aerodynamic sandboards by hand. Whack some wax on the base and you’ll be whizzing down sand dunes in no time.
03. For chocolate lovers: Mirzam Chocolate (buy in store in Al Quoz)
For your very own Charlie And The Chocolate Factory moment head to new chocolate makers Mirzam. The UAE’s first ‘bean-to-bar chocolatier’ are welcoming visitors to see how they create these luxury bars. Mirzam is full of ties to the UAE’s history and culture. In fact, its range of deliciously dark chocolates are made using just three ingredients: unrefined cane sugar, cocoa butter and cocoa beans, harvested from plantations along the old spice route. The story telling extends to the beautiful wrapping designs, hand created by select artists. Visitors can pop in to buy some bars or even peek behind the scenes of the chocolate-making process with a personal tour. The tours run daily at 11am and 6.30pm.
Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, daily 10am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 3335888. Taxi: Alserkal Avenue. facebook.com/MirzamChocolate
04. For the bohemians: Lady Mauve (buy at Ripe Market Zabeel on Fridays)
Boho chic with a hint of the Far East, Lady Mauve’s jewellery and apparel proved a hit at the Hype pop-up market at Party In The Park last month. Melissah Russo makes kimonos using textiles, beads and stones sourced from all over the world, giving the traditional Japanese garment a more cosmopolitan flavour.
05. For the fashion-minded: Deborah Henning (buy online)
Casual perfection. That’s what Dubai-based designer Deborah Henning strives to achieve with her androgynous womenswear collections. Judging by her fanbase across the region’s fashion circuit, she’s nailed it. Elegant yet edgy, the Deborah Henning label uses muted tones for those who want to make a statement without looking overdressed.
06. For the yogis: yApparel (buy online or in store in Jumeirah)
Almost three years old now, yApparel is the original, luxury boutique activewear store in Dubai. Located inside an unassuming shopping centre in Jumeirah, yApparel has been the serving the region’s yogi community with psychedelic leggings and cloud-quality clothing since its inception. Owner Dina Ghandour generated the curated store with quality, exclusivity and comfort in mind. Inside you’ll find brands sourced from across the globe including Dharma Bums, Spiritual Gangster, Good Hyouman and Aim’n.
07. For the hipsters: Mr Fox (buy online or at markets)
Intrepid market-goers will have met the Mr Fox owner. Vincent Bruno was inspired by flora and fauna when creating his ethically minded bodycare products for men and women. In recycled glass bottles, the range contains hand-blended essential oils and is free of animal products and synthetic colourants, scents and preservatives. Try the Beard Oil Trio (Dhs100), which soothes coarse facial hair and hydrates skin. It also smells amazing.
08. For a personal touch: Wallace & Co (buy online or in store)
Joining the ranks of homegrown talent in The Courtyard’s cobbled streets is Wallace & Co and its luxury handcrafted candles.
Creative duo Dennie Wallace and Carl Bailey are on a mission to snuff the idea that candles are simple stocking fillers and, instead, produce something special. Their boutique creations are completely customisable. If none of their readymade fragrances take your fancy, nose through the essential oils from their fragrance bar and concoct your very own scent. Depending on your preference, (and budget), they can personalise the packaging too, designing the jar, lid, box and box of matches. You can even mix up the wicks – try the beech wood, it makes a nice crackle as it burns.
Beyond smelling great, these candles are made from soy wax, meaning they give a cleaner burn. If that wasn’t enough, Dhs10 from every candle sold goes to the charity Start, which runs arts workshops for children across the Middle East and India.
Inside Toil & Tinker, Warehouse 4, The Courtyard, Al Quoz, Dubai, 9am to 6pm, from Dhs225. Taxi: Lime Tree Café. wallaceand.co
09. For the design diva: The People Of Sand (buy online)
Warning: Spend more than 15 minutes on this online boutique and you’re likely to end up with a shopping cart full of North African-style goodies. Its French creative director, Audrey Soler, founded the firm two years ago after struggling to find homeware with Moroccan and Andalusian origins. “After living in the US and London I moved to Dubai a decade ago,” she says. “I remembered missing styles and influences that I had grown up with – and faced the typical Dubai question ‘where can I buy it?’ The People Of Sand’s signature product is leather pouffes (from Dhs530). They’re handmade in Marrakech using a traditional tanning process that incorporates pigeon droppings – but don’t let that put you off! The skill is less environmentally harmful than modern methods, even if it does sound a bit icky.
10. For the bargain hunter: LauraZen (buy at Zabeel and Barsha Ripe markets)
This all-natural Syrian soap is made using an ancient recipe from Aleppo, where its owners John Malki and Patricia Nazarian are from. When their families fled the war-torn city, the Dubai-based couple stepped in to help by importing and rebranding the products, which are now made in Latakia and imported via Lebanon. LauraZen’s Exotic line features damask rose and soothing Aleppan clay. Vegan, cruelty-free and great for sensitive skin, the 160g bars cost Dhs20 each. Bargain.
11. For the cool kids: MarMarLand (buy online)
Describing itself as “the ultimate online shopping destination for the design-loving family”, MarMarLand stocks a wide variety of toys, textiles and homeware to suit the chicest of homes.
After having two babies of her own, managing owner Maren Gerber, from Germany, set up the store to offer minimalistic, high-quality products for youngsters to meet the demand for modern well-designed and gender-neutral products. Children will fall for the adorable Little Nulle soft toy (Dh240). Younger ones can shelter from the sun in their very own beach hut (Dhs1,318).