Dubai Duty Free (DDF) is the tax-free shopping haven located at Dubai International Airport. With sales of over $1.8 billion in 2013, an increase of over 11 percent on the previous year, it is the world’s biggest single airport retailer. The impressive sales growth looks set to continue in 2014 with sales of $480 million recorded in the first quarter of the year. This represents a 10 percent increase over the corresponding period in 2013.
Shops are located in all three terminals, in both arrivals and departures, but the largest and most modern is situated in departure area of Terminal 3 (used exclusively by Emirates and one of the largest buildings in the world). All stores are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Duty free items can also be purchased on Emirates flights.
The product range is diverse and includes:
- Alcohol –Brands and products available include whisky (Johnnie Walker, Talisker, Jameson, Kilbeggan, Tullamore Dew, Glenfiddich, Dewars, Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Southern Comfort etc.), champagne (Dom Perignon, Krug, Moet & Chandon etc.), Cognac (Courvoisier, Hennessy, Remy Martin etc.), gin (Beefeater, Gordon’s etc.), vodka (Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Absolut etc.), rum (Mount Gay, Bacardi, Havana Club etc.), tequila (Sauza, Jose Cuervo etc.), wine, and beer.
- Cigarettes – Packs of the most popular brands such as Benson & Hedges, Davidoff, Dunhill, Kent, Marlboro, Regal, Richmond, Silk Cut, and Winston.
- Cigars – Boxes of cigars from America, Europe, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Cuba. Cuban brands stocked include Bolivar, Cohiba, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, Partagas, H Upmann, and Vegas Robaina.
- Gold and Jewellery – Gold bars (18, 22, 24 carat) plus items from jewellers such as Pandora, Bvlgari, and Swarovski.
- Watches – Timepieces from all the top watchmakers including Citizen, Seiko, Breitling, Rolex, Omega, Bvlgari, Tag Heuer, and Tissot.
- Perfumes – Fragrances by Aramis, Bvlgari, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Cartier, Chanel, Christian Dior, Diesel, Elizabeth Arden, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Lacoste, Montblanc, Nina Ricci, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, and many more.
- Leather Goods – Handbags, purses, and wallets from all the top names.
- Luggage – Suitcases and bags by Delsey, Echolac, Porsche Design, Samsonite and others.
- Pens – Luxury pens by Montblanc, Cross, Montegrappa, and ST Dupont.
- Sunglasses – Designer sunglasses by Emporio Armani, Gucci, Prada, Ray Ban, Tom Ford, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Maui Jim, and many others.
- Men’s Fashion – Cufflinks, ties, shirts, and suits. Labels stocked include Boss, Lacoste, Paul Smith, and Emporio Armani.
- Electronics – Products available include camcorders and digital cameras (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung etc.), laptops and computers, video games (Nintendo, Sony PS3 and PS4 etc.), MP3 players (iPods etc.), and mobile phones (iPhone 5S, Blackberry etc.).
- Telephone Cards – Du and Etisalat mobile telephone cards.
Perfume is the most popular product sold at Dubai Duty Free, accounting for 16% of sales in the first quarter of 2014.
According to the Passenger Customs Guide 2014 (published Dubai Customs on the official government site) travellers arriving in Dubai can bring in the following quantities of goods free of duty:
- Gifts with a value of less than AED 3,000
- 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 500 grams of tobacco
- 4 litres of alcohol or 2 cartons of beer (one carton equals 24 cans, each not greater than 355 ml)
- Personal belongings
These limits apply irrespective of where the goods were purchased i.e. they include items purchased at Dubai Duty Free in the arrivals area. Arriving passengers should also note that Dubai Duty Free is the only place where they can legally purchase alcohol in Dubai (outside of hotel bars and restaurants) without an alcohol license (only available to residents).
Passengers leaving Dubai and making duty free purchases in departures should be aware of the duty free limits in their final destination. For example passengers travelling to the UK from Dubai enjoy the following duty free allowances:
- 1 litre of spirits or 2 litres of fortified wine (port, sherry)
- 16 litres of beer and 4 litres of wine
- 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco
- £390 of other goods including perfumes and souvenirs
This information was obtained from the official HM Customs & Revenue website in July 2014.
Most other countries have similar limits.
The most common question most passengers ask is whether they are better off purchasing products at Dubai Duty Free, at another airport, in their home country, or in Dubai itself.
There is no single definitive answer. It depends on the product itself, which country the passenger is from, the airport they are flying from, exchange rates, discounts, and so on. The best way to decide is to carry out careful research based on individual circumstances.
Dubai Duty Free publishes a catalogue that lists individual prices for many, but not all, of its products. The price list is available for download from the official Dubai Duty Free website (scroll down the homepage to the ‘New Arrivals’ section and select the ‘Product Listings’ link.)
There are a number of websites that can be helpful in determining the prices of goods in Dubai itself:
- The Paris Gallery website lists prices for perfumes, make-up, sunglasses, watches etc. They have stores throughout Dubai (including branches at the Dubai Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, BurJuman, Mirdif City Centre, and Deira City Centre, Wafi Mall, and Town Centre Jumeirah).
- The Jumbo Electronics website lists prices for laptops, TVs, mobile phones, cameras, and camcorders etc. They have branches at the BurJuman, Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, the Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre, and several other locations.
- Sharaf DG is another big electronics retailer in Dubai. Store locations include BurJuman, Deira City Centre, Ibn Battuta Mall, and the Dubai Mall.
Passengers from the UK can check out the prices online of fragrances, alcohol, and beauty products at many UK airports using the World Duty Free website.
For electronics, UK travellers can use the Dixons Travel website to check out products offered. Unfortunately it’s necessary to actually call the individual store to confirm price and real time availability (add the product to the shopping basket and submit to obtain the telephone number of the duty free store).
Travellers from other countries should be able to find similar websites.
To compare prices it’s necessary to convert the price to dirhams (AED). Real time exchange rates for the most popular currencies used by travellers to Dubai can be found here.
Dubai Duty Free was founded on 20th December 1983. Every year massive discounts are offered on the anniversary of its founding. In 2013 the discount was 30 percent on a wide range of items. The promotion usually runs for the 24 hours to midnight on the 20th December.
DDF is famous for its lotteries and raffles. Prizes include millions in cash and luxury cars (Bentley, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Aston Martin, Lamborghini etc.). Tickets can be purchased at the airport or online at the official Dubai Duty Free website.
Click here for a detailed map showing all points of interest.