It’s that time of year again when the festive season is fast approaching and people are either thinking about sending presents home or looking forward to travelling home themselves for the holidays. Amongst the mix of the usual pressies, I always think it’s nice to take people something that comes from where you’re living, something a bit different, so here’s a little rundown on some of the things I think make quintessential UAE gifts at any time of year.
I came across the Camel Company when I was living in Dubai – they always have such cute things, especially for kids.
I love their character soft toys in national dress! Definitely something a bit different for the kid who has everything!
And of course there’s all things camel too! Camel notebooks and sticky post-it style notes, camel t-shirts, soft toy camels and loads more. Well, what did you expect – the place is called the Camel Company! 🙂
And as well as camels galore in every shape and form that you could ever imagine, there’s a whole load of other novel cute stuff too… From stacking style Russian dolls in UAE national dress, Arabian style design coasters, mugs, key rings, pens and even glass camel shaped drinks stirrers!
And how gorgeous are these mugs pictured above?! I love the bright colours and bold designs. They’re part of the new heritage collection that also includes the same patterns in notebooks (mugs are Dhs69 each and notebooks are Dhs19).
Sadly, this shop has not yet made it down to Abu Dhabi so to peruse the stores you’ll need to go to Dubai – BUT, I am excited to say that they do have an online store so you can do all your novelty shopping without even having to leave the comfort of your own home – hurrah! Check the online store out by clicking here.
The Camel Soap Factory
I came across these last Christmas and they make great little stocking fillers. They also come in a range of scents and smell amazing!
The Camel Soap Factory produces handmade camel soaps right here in the UAE and all soaps are completely free of any nasties – no parabens, sulphates, artificial colours or fragrances (they only use essential oils for their soothing properties) and each bar contains a minimum of 25% Camel milk.
As well as being a bit of a novelty to take for someone back home, the Bedouin believe that Camel milk has natural curative powers both for sensitive skins (even baby skin), helping to smooth fine lines on the skin as well as being known to hold antibacterial and anti fungal properties so they’ve got to be well worth giving a go for those reasons alone I reckon! I actually gave some to my family last Christmas and the scent of them when they were wrapped up under the Christmas tree made the whole room smell amazing!
The Camel Soap Factory soaps cost Dhs30 each and are available in Abu Dhabi at Pooja on 5th Street, Laverne at the World Trade Centre Souk and Souk Qaryat Al Beri. In Dubai you can find them at Al Jaber Gallery stores.
As well as lots of pretty photographs of camels and local UAE sights, Gallery One has loads of fun small items that make great little gifts.
If you know someone who likes a puzzle, their UAE themed jigsaw puzzles are a good idea and I really like the idea of their jigsaw cards for something fun and unusual! You write your message on the back of the card and then break it up in the envelope and send it for the person receiving to puzzle it out and put together before they can read your message!
There’s also a whole host of other small items from 3D cards of UAE scenes (including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque), playing cards printed with local images and of course calendars – perhaps a nice idea to give to someone at home to remind them of you and where you live.
There’s loads of other stuff too at their stores which are located all over Dubai and also in Abu Dhabi at the Souk Qaryat Al Beri and Yas Mall. They also have an online store that you can check out by clicking here.
I couldn’t do a quintessential UAE gift post without mentioning the Entertainer as it would make the perfect gift for the man or woman in your life who has everything..! But as well as having Dubai and Abu Dhabi editions, did you know that the Entertainer also operates in countries all over the world? So, not just a good idea for a gift for someone local, but you could always get a copy for someone back home of the Entertainer London, Hong Kong, Bahrain, Singapore or Cape Town to name only a few of their 15 global editions!
And who doesn’t love the Entertainer?! Packed full with buy one get one free offers for leisure, restaurants, hotels and spas you can’t go wrong really. There’s also a fabulous new app version for those (like me!) who sometimes forget to bring the book or the vouchers with them ahead of time. Now you can also always have it with you on your phone! Genius.
As well as being available all over the UAE in stores, you can also buy their products online by clicking here.
World Trade Center Souk
As far as souvenirs and Arabian inspired gifts are concerned, you can’t go past the World Trade Center Souk where rather than naming just one specific store, the whole place is a veritable feast of places to find items you wouldn’t get from back home.
Pashminas for all budgets from silk, cotton and silk mixes, pure cashmere and everything in between, this is the place to come for scarves and shawls. Of course there’s also heaps more – Arabian style lamps, beautiful silk and wool Persian carpets as well as all the smaller souvenir items too – including jewellery, Persian carpet style mouse mats and coasters, key rings, postcards and even a fair few camel toys.
For the aspiring chef in your life you might like to take home some spices which are also available here in multitude. Arabic spice mix that you won’t find in a jar on a supermarket shelf, sumac, vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks are all good choices due to their high cost in countries like the UK. Saffron is also always a good one for this same reason.
Dates & Arabic sweets
Back in the UK, we always used to have dates around our house at Christmas. I’m not sure what the connection is but they are always in the shops around this time of year back home – but of course the type and selection you can get here is far superior.
You can pick up a range of dates in most supermarkets of course, but it’s also fun to go down to the fruit and veg market at Mina Port where there’s a whole row of date and Arabic sweet shops where you can try a variety of different types before you buy.
If you’re after the super fancy top quality, shops like Bateel have gourmet dates and Arabic pastries in more forms than you ever thought possible – plain dates, dates with nuts, chocolate dates and more all from the finest sources. Bateel has branches all over the UAE including Abu Dhabi Mall, The Galleria and the Dubai Mall in Dubai.
Wafi Gourmet (pictured below), which, if you’re not familiar with is like an Arabic style Harrods food hall where you can find some really interesting (and delicious) local sweets, cakes, dates, spices and all sorts of gourmet delicacies.
Wafi Gourmet has several locations in Dubai including Wafi Mall and one in Abu Dhabi at the Nation Towers Galleria.
So that’s pretty much it! Those are my top picks for UAE gifts that might be a bit novel or different for friends and family here or overseas..! Do you have any favourite picks for the quintessential UAE gift that I haven’t listed? Let me know what you think!