Some alternative retail therapy for you…

While we all love to indulge in the (not so) occasional shopping spree, it’s not often one comes across an offering so unique, it makes you stop and think ‘I’ve never heard of that one before’.

We’ve rounded up a list of local and homegrown businesses that are shaking things up for you because we’re awesome like that. Bespoke gift wrapping services, custom sticker sets and permanent jewellery – there’s more to Dubai’s retail scene than meets the eye.



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The act of gift-giving has been, since time immemorial, the perfect way to express love and affection. It’s a little token of hey, I thought about you, and MASKA understands that better than anyone else. The homegrown business was inspired by the Japanese furoshiki – cloth used for dressing up presents, carrying things or just to make things look pretty. Opening its doors in 2013, the custom gift-wrapping service has given this tradition a Middle Eastern touch by incorporating luxury fabrics and a more contemporary design. Using gorgeous textiles, special accents and unique wrapping designs, it’s as personalised as it gets.




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This French-owned small business is in the business of creating treasures that will stay with you for a long time to come. They specialise in permanent jewellery, a service that welds together bracelets, anklets and other accessories of your choice to a custom fit so that you never have to take them off. Choose from over 20 different designs of 14k gold-filled chains that are waterproof and tarnish-free. The business doesn’t have a permanent store and hosts pop-ups on a regular basis, so make sure to follow their social media pages to stay tuned with the updates. You can also opt for a VIP home service to enjoy the experience from the comfort of your home.




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Another homegrown hero, Waggish is all about sass, pizzazz and quirk, as can be seen in their product. What is that product, you ask? Stickers. Just stickers, but perhaps the most fun, interesting stickers ever. They take custom orders as well, so you can sticker-fy anything and everything in your life. Bold designs, bright colours and themed sticker packs are their expertise. Coming from local roots, they incorporate loads of pop-culture references and Gen-Z quips in not just English, but also Arabic, for that authentically cultural affect. It’s all very certified-cool. The small business has just started expanding to things like totes and more, so keep an eye out for that. You can place your orders on their website.

Zerzura Rare Books

If you’re an avid reader and have a to-read list with titles you just can’t find anywhere else, head over to Zerzura Rare Books. The space features an ever-growing selection of hard-to-find titles, signed copies, and first editions across all the genres you can think of – fairytales, romantic poetry, dark Russian novels, classics, the list goes on. Only bookworms will understand the joy of collecting those rare gems, and you’re sure to find something here. The place is also usually buzzing with something exciting happening, like book launches, workshops, and events, so keep an eye out for that.


Nappa Dori


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All the way from Mumbai to Dubai, Nappa Dori is your one-stop-shop for all things handcrafted leather. Bags, wallets, card-holders, key chains and even personalised suitcases – leather goods of every variety are available here. Everything is designed and brought to life in-house and it’s the perfect way to add a little touch of your personality to your belongings. The shop is located in Alserkal and features Café Dori, a cosy sleek cafe where you can work, play and socialise. Savour a coffee, a croissant or the company of a dear friend.



This small business will deck out your pets in the best way possible. Homegrown Charlieholic calls itself a ‘versatile pet apparel brand’, and if that isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever heard, we don’t know what is. The business creates custom bandanas and bow ties for your fur babies, in all the patterns, designs and fabrics you can think of. Your pet might end up being more fashionable than you are, but we don’t see that as a problem. The best part of shopping from Charlieholic? They donate a percentage of their sales to local animal shelters, so it’s wholesome vibes all around.


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Homeblooms is a labour of love, taking the art of preserving flowers and turning it into something beautiful. The small business creates dried and preserved flower arrangements, paired with balloons, chocolates, jewelries, scented candles, bags, and many more, curated exclusively for special occasions. Think birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and especially weddings. These floral arrangements can be customised to match the occasion and have been preserved in all their natural beauty, shape and form.

Images: Supplied