One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and Dubai Flea Market thrives on that motto. If your home is disappearing under a pile of junk then it’s time to sell, sell, sell.
Dubai Flea Market is like an expat right of passage. Tea at the top of the Burj Khalifa is a rich treat, being ‘ma’am sir-ed’ is an inevitable annoyance, but you haven’t really earned that visa page in your passport until you’ve bargained hard over a well-worn flip flop.
We won our stripes at Zabeel Park, which takes place on the first Saturday of the month, but you can make like Del Boy at Cedre Shopping Centre in Silicon Oasis on the second Friday and JLT Park, between Clusters O and P, on the third Friday of the month, where thousands of determined shoppers hunt down bargains like lions on the Serengeti.
Here’s our fail-safe guide to selling at the Dubai Flea Market.
Need to know: Zabeel Park market takes place from 8am-3pm, Silicon Oasis from 10am-5pm and JLT from 1pm-5pm. Stall holders can arrive two hours earlier. Markets are held from October until May, then in previous years have moved to evenings or indoors to escape the punishing summer heat.
Be prepared: Tables cost AED 290 and include a table and two chairs. Share with a friend to save cash and book online to ensure a spot, though we rocked up on the day and there were still spaces available. Take plenty to drink, snacks, lots of change, piles of carrier bags and pretty much anything you want to sell. Fakes and commercial goods are forbidden, but we found even old t-shirts, battered books and half-used shampoos were snapped up.
Get there early: Zabeel Park opens its gates to the public at 8am. Flea market regulars will be there from 6am and the best tables will be gone shortly after. You need to register at Gate 2 first, then sharpen your elbows, drag in your bits and bobs and work that game face to bag the best spot. Enterprising chaps with trollies loiter about and for AED 20 or so, they’ll save your aching arms, or work that wheeled suitcase.
Set up smart: Remember, it’s going to get hot, so plonk yourself under the nearest shady tree and bring plenty of water. Tables are provided but if you’ve got a lot of spare wardrobe to shift, it’s worth bringing a clothes rail. But don’t bother stacking everything neatly – 0.3 seconds after your thoughtful set up, scores of eager bargain hunters will descend on your table and destroy your carefully KonMari crafted folding.
Make friends: Look to your neighbours. They’ll be invaluable if you need some to watch your stuff while you take a ‘comfort break’, so help them unpack, offer tea and watch out for sticky fingers raiding their stall. We befriended King of the Markets, who blasted out deals via a megaphone and drew in shoppers like the Pied Piper.
Be aware: Speaking of sticky fingers, sadly things can and do missing. Keep cash in a bag round your waist and stash personal belongings out of sight. Fellow marketeers will enterprisingly rifle through your goodies as you’re setting up stall, but being polite and firm will grab you some breathing space.
Prepare to bargain: Decide what’s the lowest price you’ll take for your unwanted junk before you set up stall and don’t be vexed if you’re offered less. We fixed prices of AED 5 for tops and AED 10 for trousers, skirts and dresses, but more organised stall holders went for price tags or labelled designated baskets filled with bargains.
Bests sellers: We could have sold our suitcases five times over. Jute bags for life were hot sellers and hotel toiletries were wildly popular, as are branded clothes and cosmetics – however well-used.
When it’s all over: Consider donating unsold items to local good causes, but don’t leave anything behind. Put rubbish in the bin, pack up your stall, then relax in the sunshine and count up your spoils. We recommend jumping on Zabeel’s tour train to take in all of the park. JLT market is close to the small but very good Mythos restaurant – blow your earnings on authentic Greek dishes.
Any more questions? Check out www.dubai-fleamarket.com