Dubai Middle East Travel UAE

Dubai Food Markets and Dates Souk

Ambling through traditional food markets at a leisurely pace is a favourite travel pastime. In Dubai, you do it out of necessity. The covered souk provides some shelter from the sun but not from the sweltering heat that inevitably slows you down.

Dubai’s fruit and vegetable market is located in Deira adjacent to the Fish Souk and a short stroll away from the glitz of the Gold Souk. Rows and colour reel you in as you amble past fresh produce grown locally or imported from neighbouring countries.

Dubai Food Markets

Watermelons occupy a substantial section of the market. This thirst-quenching fruit is very popular in hot regions of the Middle East and reminds me of the street vendors wheeling their carts piled with watermelons in Syria.

Dubai Food Markets

Locals go on about their daily business while we, as foreign tourists, attract a few curious but welcoming looks.

Dubai Food Markets

Dubai Food Markets

We spot the Dates Section with a mouth-watering range of fresh dates from this region. Dates, or tomoor in Arabic, feature prominently in this part of the world and are often served in welcome, as they do at the lobby of Burj Al Arab hotel.

Dubai Dates Souk

The seller takes us through the different types: Mabroom (long, thin, medium brown), Sagai (short, light-coloured, with an amber top), Sukkary (small, pale rounder in shape), Safawi (dark, long, thin, wrinkly) then offers us a taste.

Dubai Dates Souk

These dates are unlike any I have eaten elsewhere. The flesh is soft, almost melting on contact with the mouth and releasing a nectar-like sweetness. The semi-ripe varieties are lighter in colour with a slightly rougher texture but are equally sweet.

Dubai Dates Souk

With such an extensive range on offer, it is best not to make a choice. We walk away with one kilo of assorted dates, all for a little under $10.

Dubai Dates Souk

Sights and smells of traditional markets often evoke a curiosity about the shopping and eating habits of the locals. While supermarkets in Dubai offers a glimpse into shopping habits, a visit to the food souk afford an invaluable insight into the local stomach.

Dubai Food Markets
Deira District
Dubai UAE

Visiting Dubai? Don’t miss our Top 10 Things in To in Dubai.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.


  • I am still dreaming about the dates I bought at that very market in Dubai when I was visiting last year. After we returned to Beijing, I went out and bought some local dates, but they just weren’t the same and left me craving the Dubai version even more.

    • I know exactly what you mean! Nothing compares to those Arabian dates. Definitely worth buying on a visit to Dubai.

  • I love visiting food markets when traveling! That watermelon looks so juicy and flavorful and I’d do the same as you–buy a bag that included all the varieties of dates!

  • Oh how lovely! I adore markets and I adore dates. 🙂 I can only imagine how much better Dubai dates are than the scrunched up ones from the grocery store. 🙂

    • I can never look at dates the same way again. We get California dates here but they’re very dry and shrivelled in comparison!

    • Dubai is a very clean city so I didn’t expect the markets to be dirty. I was surprised at how they keep everything fresh in the desert heat!

  • These photos are incredible…all I can think about is how exotic this market is, wow! The shot with the watermelons is stunning & I can just imagine how those dates taste…I’ve never been fortunate enough to travel to Dubai, but now putting it on my wish list 🙂

    • The watermelons looked very juicy. I couldn’t resist a photo! And I fell in love with Dubai, so I highly recommend it 🙂

  • Well snap to you (since we both posted photos from food markets today)!
    Although, I must say that yours, with all those photos of juicy dates looks a lot better than the basic fruit + veg market in Quito I was showcasing.

    • Snap back! We can’t compare apples and oranges… or in this case, dates and roast pigs! 🙂 Both are equally good!

  • I love markets around the world. It’s so fun to see different kinds of things to eat and the displays are usually fun. Like for instance, who knew there were so many kinds of dates?

    Looking forward to reading more of your food adventures…

    • Hi Mary, it’s what I enjoy as well, being educated in produce that’s either unfamiliar to us. I often wish I was staying longer in one place so I can shop and cook as the locals do 🙂

  • Dates, figs always make me think of how these are dried and where they are sold ie not in the most cleanly environs.

    But fresh dates mmmmm now I can get into these in a big way.

    • Dried dates are terrible, figs, I can stomach as long as they’re not hard like bullets! But nothing beats the freshness particularly when you buy them in the region where they’re grown!

  • Great post! This was our local supermarket for many years!

    @Wanderluster there are actually hundreds of varieties of dates. While the UAE ones are special the finest are from Saudi. The excellent souqs at Al Ain are probably the best source for dates from Saudi and other places.

    One of my favourite shops (now a franchise) in Dubai (which of course can now be found everywhere) is Bateel – they have sublime chocolate covered dates as well as fun things like sparkling date drinks and date jam. All the locals buy gift boxes (more like colossal trays!) from there for weddings, Christenings, birthdays etc.

    • Thanks Lara 🙂 I must check out Bateel next time we go to Dubai. The sparkling drink sounds like it would be quite refreshing. I had a chance to try a date tea over there and that was lovely!

  • […] Gold Souk is located in the Deira district within walking distance to the Dubai Fish Markets and Dubai Food Markets. For as long as she could hold a pen, Ms Gourmantic (Corinne) has been an avid scribe feeding her […]

  • […] Fish Souk is located in the Deira district, conveniently adjacent to the Food Markets and Date Souk, and a five minute walk from the Gold Souk. If you’re planning to visit, best to arrive early in […]

    • Hi Farhana. It is inside the food markets. If you make a lap around, you’ll see it. If I remember correctly, it is in a covered outdoor section. Definitely worth buying dates – the best I’ve ever tasted!