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Barter Your Way to a Bargain

Malls in Dubai work on a fixed-price system—though it's possible to get a small discount simply by asking if the ticket actually denotes the best price. However, bartering is an accepted part of life in the souks, where the price is mutually agreed on by purchaser and merchant. Even if bargaining doesn't come naturally to you, there's no need to be nervous about it. If you are buying an expensive souvenir like a carpet or a precious stone, you often will pay more than you should if you consent to the storekeeper's first figure.

You can follow a few easy tips to make bartering in all souks more successful and enjoyable. First, act cool about the specific item you want. Look at several items and narrow down your choice while building a rapport with the vendor. Usually they'll offer a drink—coffee, tea, or soda. This is standard and by accepting their offer, you show you're serious about negotiating. Your first offer should be about half of the vendor's first figure, then increase your offer little by little as the vendor lowers his. If you decide that the price range is still too high, simply tell the shop owner and walk away. You never know, he may call you back with a lower offer.

Never verbally agree to a price you are not willing to pay. If you do, it is considered very bad manners to change your mind!

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