Dubai Duty Free (DDF) is the tax-free shopping haven located at Dubai International Airport.
The world’s biggest single airport retailer celebrated its 36th anniversary in 2019 with record sales of over $2.03 billion. Goods sold included over 9 million cans of beer, over 3.1 million bottles of whisky, 4.4 million packets of cigarettes, 15.8 million cigars, and almost 400 kg of caviar.
Sales in 2020 are expected to be equally as impressive.
Shops are located in all three terminals, in both arrivals and departures. 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 etc.), MP3 players (iPods etc.), and mobile phones (iPhone, Samsung, Huawei etc.).
- Telephone Cards – Du and Etisalat mobile telephone cards.
Perfume is the most popular product sold at Dubai Duty Free, accounting for around 15% of sales in 2019.
According to the official Dubai Customs website (at February 2020), travellers can bring in the following quantities of goods free of duty:
- Gifts with a value of less than AED 3,000
- 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 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.
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 February 2020.
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.
The Dubai Duty Free website has an online store that lists prices for many of its products. Visit the website (link at the end of this article).
There are a number of websites that can be helpful in determining the prices of goods in Dubai itself:
- The Jumbo Electronics website lists prices for laptops, TVs, mobile phones, cameras, and camcorders etc. Branches include City Centre Deira, Dubai Mall, City Centre Mirdif, and the Mall of the Emirates.
- Sharaf DG is another big electronics retailer in Dubai. Store locations include BurJuman, City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif, 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.
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 2019 the discount was 25 percent on a wide range of items.
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.