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Bargaining in Abu Dhabi

Bargaining is common practice in the souks and smaller shops in Abu Dhabi. Shopkeepers expect it and so the first price you are given is usually wildly inflated. It helps if you know a bit about the item you are buying and how much it usually sells for – once you are sure that the price you have just been offered is too much, then the bargaining commences.

Feel free to use all the tactics at your disposal: expressing surprise at the unreasonably high prices, saying that your friend bought the same thing here last week for half the price, or that the item is on sale next door, are all good ones – although the vendor has probably heard them all before. Walking out of the shop will usually result in a speedy price drop. Make sure the shop owner knows you are a resident and not a tourist, and make solemn promises to come back often and tell all your friends if the prices are good.

The trick is to be persistent – after numerous offers and counter offers it all gets a bit tedious, but if you can outlast the vendor you’ve got more chance of bagging a bargain (so work on that stamina).

Don't lose your patience, being arrogant, insulting the shopkeeper or the quality of his goods, or raising your voice when it comes to bargaining, as it will probably result in negotiations coming to a halt as the vendor digs his heels in and sticks to his price.

When the price is agreed a verbal contract has been created. If you back out at this stage don’t be surprised if you get an angry earful from the vendor.

Shops in malls usually operate a ‘fixed price’ policy and attempting to bargain here will probably earn you some strange looks but no discount. The exception is in jewellery shops, where discounts are offered as standard. A big clue as to whether a shop offers discounts or not is if there are calculators on the counter tops – the humble calculator is an important bargaining tool in the UAE, and you’ll quickly get used to shopkeepers frantically punching in complicated mathematical equations to work out your 10% discount.




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