Pretty much everything, is the answer. Gold, diamonds and other precious stones are cheaper here than just about anywhere else in the world. Dubai is also good for cheap spices and Middle Eastern food, purchased either in the Deira souks or a local supermarket; dates are a particularly good buy. Other bargains are local perfumes, clothes and shoes, including pretty little Arabian-style embroidered slippers – or you could go the whole hog and kit yourself out in a traditional dishdasha or abbeya (male and female robes). The city also has a thriving carpet trade (though you might want to check the Blue Souk in Sharjah too) ranging from inexpensive kilims to heirloom-quality Persian rugs. Arabian souvenirs are another obvious choice and there are heaps of collectable antiques such as old coffee pots, khanjars, wooden boxes and antique Bedouin jewellery, along with shisha pipes and frankincense, not to mention plenty of memorably awful toy camels, mosque alarm clocks and Burj al Arab paperweights. Recordings of Arabian music are another interesting buy, although for a quintessentially Dubaian memento, check out some of the vast array of fake designer stuff on offer in Karama and Bur Dubai.
For (genuine) contemporary fashion, all the world’s top brands are represented in Dubai’s malls. In fact, label fatigue sets in pretty rapidly during any shopping tour of the city and you might prefer to forego looking at yet more Armani in favour of searching out some of the city’s small number of more interesting independent boutiques like S*uce or Ginger & Lace – or just take your revenge on the dominant brands by buying a pile of fakes from Karama. Most major labels have their own stores; alternatively, check out what’s available at one of the city’s increasing number of flagship international department stores, which now include Harvey Nichols, Galeries Lafayette, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.