When travelling to the United Arab Emirates, it is always handy to know where the supermarkets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE are. Otherwise you will be paying an arm and a leg for water and other drinks in your hotel – while picking up a bottle of Masafi from the local supermarket will only set you back a couple of dirham. This is why I will give you an overview of the best supermarkets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
What supermarkets are there in the United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates you have plenty of choice when it comes to supermarkets:
I will give a bit of an explanation for every supermarket so you know what to expect when entering the supermarket.
Carrefour is a franchise by Al Futaim – the company that also owns the Mall of the Emirates. This is why the Carrefour logo in the United Arab Emirates is slightly different. I enjoyed going to carrefour when I lived in Dubai. Carrefour has a lot of Western brands and products – albeit more focussed on western-continental products. You will easily find Cote d’or or Milka in Carrefour (especially in the big ones) while in other shops it might be hard to get by.
LuLu is another big supermarket, known for its large selection of South-Asian fruits and vegetables. LuLu is a great place to shop for people coming from the United Kingdom as (in my experience) they do stock a lot of British brands other shops (with exception of M&S and Waitrose) might not stock. I never bought my fruits and vegetables from LuLu as they were often a bit too ripe or old for my taste.
Waitrose is a British supermarket that has been expanding in the area ever since it opened its first shop in the Dubai Mall. Just like in the United Kingdom, Waitrose in the United Arab Emirates is quite an expensive shop and not many people would do their weekly shop in Waitrose. They are known for their deli counter, their great ready meals and pizza, their selection of British products that are hard to get in other shops, and of course their pork section. I will talk about buying pork in Dubai in-depth in a minute.
Westzone is a local supermarket that is quite popular with South-Asians and Filipinos. It has a great selection of Asian food at very good prices. If you are looking to buy pork, West-zone will be your best bet as they have great pork products at reasonable prices. Some West-Zones also serve hot food to take home from a deli counter. I can recommend doing this as it is cheap and tasty.
Freshzone + Madina
Most freshzone and madina supermarkets are very small local supermarkets that are franchised. These supermarkets will carry everything you need – from shampoo to coffee, spices and of course a small selection of fruits and vegetables. You can consider them a bit like a local cornershop.
Spinneys is another high-end supermarket that can be found in most – if not all, emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Spinneys is known to carry quite a western variety of products and beautiful fruits and vegetables. Spinneys also carries a pork section.
Quite a few Marks and Spencer shops in the United Arab Emirates also have a Simply Food section. This British department store that also sells food and drinks under the M&S simply food brand. Although the M&S simply food sections in the United Arab Emirates are quite small, you will be able to find some staple products such as frozen battered cod, British branded chocolates and of course Percy pigs.
Union Co-op is a pretty high-end supermarket that is known for its large selection of gluten free products, its beautiful meat counter and the great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. It was my favourite shop when in the United Arab Emirates as the prices were not as high as those of Spinneys and Waitrose, while the products were of the same standard or higher.
What supermarkets are there in Dubai Mall
If you are in Dubai Mall and you want a bottle of water or a little snack, you can head down to Waitrose. Just follow the signs for the taxi stand and you will automatically walk past Waitrose. Another supermarket you might head to is Spinneys. Although Spinneys is located in Souk al Bahar rather than Dubai Mall, it is still close enough to walk – even in 45 degree heat. Souk al Bahar is located on the other side of the little bridge when you come out of the main exit towards the fountains.
Where can you buy pork and bacon in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates
In Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, it is rather hard to find pork in the supermarkets. You really need to know where you are going. Strictly speaking there are three supermarkets in the United Arab Emirates where you can buy pork. This does not include branches of these supermarkets in the emirate of Sharjah, where laws around dress, food and alcohol are a lot stricter.
All pork products will be sold in a back room Muslims are forbidden to enter. Sometimes tills will also not accept non-halal food (pork products) to make sure food Muslims put down on the till does not get contaminated.
- Westzone supermarket
Westzone Supermarket is the best place to get basic pork products such as bacon, pork sausages, spam and pork cracklings. You will probably not find a pork section in the smaller shops, but the larger ones almost always have one. For a pack of bacon (250 grams) I would pay about 10 Dhs.
Spinneys in Dubai and Abu Dhabi carries pork products. Here again they will be stored in a pork room where Muslims will not be allowed to enter. Spinneys is more expensive than Westzone but cheaper than Waitrose and will often carry more luxury products such as pork belly.
Waitrose has by far the biggest and most extensive range of pork products in the United Arab Emirates. Although pork products in Waitrose are expensive, they are of a very high quality. Waitrose also carries pre-made pork meals such as pizza with ham. A pack of bacon can cost anything between 35 and 40 Dhs.
Where to buy alcohol in the United Arab Emirates
If you are going on holiday to the United Arab Emirates, I would recommend you to bring a few bottles of alcohol from home as alcohol in the UAE is incredibly expensive. There are a few places where you can buy alcohol such as in the airport, yet you can’t just head off to the supermarket and pull a bottle of red out of the shelves.
You can buy alcohol in African Eastern and at MMI. Prices are okay – but can be perceived as high by some, especially when it comes to wine.
You can also drive up to Umm al Quwain where you can buy alcohol in the Barracuda Alcohol shop. This shop sells relatively cheap alcohol and is a go-to place for many expats.
Another tip would be to put in an order via Taurus which is an alcohol delivery service. Taurus however, only delivers orders over 1000 dhs which is about 215 pounds. It would only work if you are with a large group or if you are expats living in the UAE willing to share an order.