As iftar breaks the day’s fast and the fiery sunset cools to twilight, Dubai comes alive as loved ones congregate in the Ramadan Night Markets. There is a direct correlation between these night markets and the traditional souks during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Many of the Ramadan markets continue long into the night from iftar to suhoor; most arrive after tarawih.
An earlier Ramadan this year offers cooler evenings, affording plenty of time to both witness and experience the traditional and nocturnal Dubai Ramadan. It’s the perfect time to check it out, and lucky for you, Savoir Flair went out to see which ones were our favorites. Below, the Ramadan markets we recommend you (definitely) visit during this celebratory season.
Al Seef’s new made-to-look-old aesthetic presents a certain pastiche. When the sunset fades, the lights warm and then glow across approximately 1.5 kilometers of parallel boulevards stretching along Al Seef Dubai Creek. The busy walkways are lined with clothing, jewelry stores, and coffee shops. You can meander through thin sand-stained corridors brightened occasionally with distressed teal and blue. Between stalls, one catches glimpses of traditional dhows cruising along Deira Creek. Merchants vie for your attention, wooing you in to inspect carpets or bags. After it all, check out the new Royal Delight, brimming with oversized curls of spongy pistachio-studded nougat (our favorite). Rest your feet at the nearby popular Nablus Knufar for traditional knafeh, Turkish coffee, or ice cream.
Is it a Ramadan Market? We say yes. Alserkal Avenue’s special brand of industrial, hipster, left-of-center vibe brews at this Stay a Little Longer Ramadan market. Guests stretch out on the grass after iftar, like boas digesting in real time. Comfy cushions propped against refurbished pallets support precarious Jenga towers. There is a clear community feel, as long tables with adults — some strangers-cum-friends — paint together and munch on plates from Lowe, Ugly Noodles, Yi Fang, and more. Live “Handpan” orchestras play and screenings of The Dam by Ali Cheeri are projected over a large screen. After the Persian poetry sessions, listening parties, or live podcast recordings (see the full program here), saunter into The Style Club, a collection of independent jewelers like Boho East, hosted in Le Guepard.
Dubai Festival City Mall
Park in Dubai Festival City Mall and head towards Vibes by the Bay next to the fountains, where traditional stringed qanoon is piped everywhere. Dubai Festival City’s Ramadan Market, which comes alive after 8pm, is a lively, family-friendly scene for those looking for a space where kids can blow off steam. There is plenty of painting or hair beading for children; there is even an animal petting zoo where kids feed animals and take photos with parrots. The highlights include the traditional cannon firing, marking the end of fasting and announcing iftar. Visitors line the curved corniche around Dubai Creek to catch a glimpse of the fountains every 30 minutes against the distant Downtown Dubai skyline.
The grand bazaar of them all is on full display at Expo City Dubai’s Hai Ramadan. Much of Expo City is dedicated to the Ramadan Market as a one-stop shop for families, shoppers, and diners. Mercifully, maps are available guiding you to the Iftar Cannon as well as the Ramadan souq markets down Hai Al Barkah and Hai Al Rahma. The wise will come early to scope out the best of what is available. Expo City is best suited for families wanting ample space for children to exhaust themselves while grown-ups look through shopping outlets. Women sift through colorful abayas and choose between scents from a Touch of Oud. The Socks Aparts kiosk offers something for the person that has everything. Dining options range from restaurants such as the Beirut-based Baron and La Serre’s French menu to shawarmas where your nose (and the longest queue) should be your guide. Expo City also features long communal iftar tables offering a three-course set menu for a family-style sharing meal, but we always recommend bringing a picnic and finding a grassy place to be fabulous.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers
For those looking for a smaller Ramadan Market, check out the Ramadan District sitting in the shadow of the Museum of the Future; all curated by the team at FLTRD and M2L. It’s an impressive but smaller venue that retains an intimate, casual vibe. Visitors lounge on plush pillows, sipping coffees as incense wafts from independent stalls. There is more of a fashion and local producer focus at Ramadan District. Sustainable fashion brand, The Veganologie, offers beautiful but simple accessories such as touchably soft business card holders made from apple skin or supple leather-like wallets made from plastic bottles, all in an array of vibrant colors. Greens and mustards pop from O’Maad’s ready-to-wear stall of kaftans, dresses, and headwraps. For the snackers among you, check out Beit Ward, a Lebanese mouneh, selling honey and fig jams (yes, we bought some). More substantial meals can be found at the notorious CZN Burak – him and his pointy fingers – as well as Baguette l’Entrecote.
Madinat Jumeirah takes advantage of its generous al fresco space with a more concentrated Ramadan Market encircled by the Madinat Jumeirah canals. Red lights ricochet around an outdoor space (that could be in a Weeknd music video) punctuated by a large Ramadan crescent moon. Some sit in low-slung chairs while others feverishly tap away inside Super Mario and Call of Duty gaming cubicles; a space for children where the outdoors is still a novel concept. There is even the NOT A MAJLIS gaming zone. It is a more demure market with people thumbing their phones, connected to free outdoor wifi, because Instagram won’t ‘like’ itself. Still, there is art and homeware from The Fab Hub, stalls offering summer dresses (as those warmer, summer months are fast approaching), and Margaux pastries offer their totemic, soporific cupcakes.