Take sunglasses when you visit the Gold Souk—no matter what time of day. The window displays shine with precious metals and cut stones that are so reflective they nearly strain your eyes. The Gold Souk is one of the world's most important jewelery trading centers, catering to customers from the Gulf region and beyond. Trade in gold reached $5.23 billion in the third quarter of 2007, and it's estimated that 20% of the world's gold stock passes through Dubai. Thirty-five percent of sales go to the domestic market, meaning visitors from all over the world purchase 65% of Dubai's gold. In a region where the mobile Bedouin lifestyle was the norm until about a generation ago, gold is a precious commodity, with worth far beyond its beauty. Jewelry was a portable method of storing wealth, and gold still makes up part of a woman's wedding dowry in many societies in Africa, the Arabian Gulf, and India. Citizens of these countries flock to Dubai to buy gold because prices are some of the most
competitive in the world. Gold is sold by weight here, based on daily rates, and precious stones cut and polished in Antwerp, Belgium, change hands for much less than they do in Europe.
It's fun to shop or browse here, and the souk is also great for people-watching, as it may be one of the world's most international marketplaces.