Ultimate Guide to Barter for Expats Moving to Dubai


Moving to a new country can be both exhilarating and overwhelming, especially when it comes to adjusting to a new culture, lifestyle, and financial landscape. For expats considering relocating to Dubai, understanding the art of bartering can be an invaluable skill. 

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Dubai, with its vibrant markets and diverse population, offers ample opportunities for negotiation and trade. In this guide, we’ll delve into the essentials of bartering in Dubai and provide insights into what items are worth bartering for expats.

Understanding the Culture of Bartering in Dubai:

Bartering is deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of Dubai and the wider Middle East. It’s not just a means of securing a good deal but also a social custom that fosters camaraderie and relationship-building. While bartering is common in traditional souks (markets), it’s also practiced in everyday transactions, from purchasing goods in shops to negotiating rental agreements.

  1. Start with a Smile: Approach bartering with a friendly demeanour. A smile and polite conversation can go a long way in establishing rapport with the seller.
  2. Do Your Research: Familiarize yourself with the market prices of the items you’re interested in. Knowing the typical range will empower you during negotiations.
  3. Be Prepared to Walk Away: Sometimes, the best deal comes from being willing to walk away if the terms aren’t favourable. This demonstrates to the seller that you’re serious and not easily swayed.
  4. Don’t Rush: Take your time during negotiations. Rushing can lead to hasty decisions or settling for a price higher than you intended.
  5. Polite Persistence: While firmness is essential, maintaining politeness is equally important. Avoid becoming aggressive or confrontational, as this can hinder the bartering process.
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Items worth Bartering for Expats:

  1. Furniture and Home Décor: Dubai boasts a thriving market for furniture and home décor items. Whether you’re furnishing a new apartment or looking to add a touch of elegance to your home, bartering for furniture, rugs, lamps, and decorative pieces can result in significant savings.
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  1. Clothing and Accessories: From traditional Arabic attire to international fashion brands, Dubai offers a plethora of options for clothing and accessories. When you’re exploring local online markets, don’t hesitate to swap for garments, shoes, handbags, and accessories.
  1. Electronics: Dubai is known for its bustling electronics market, where you can find everything from the latest gadgets to refurbished electronics at competitive prices. When purchasing smartphones, laptops, cameras, or other electronic devices, bartering can often lead to substantial discounts.
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  1. Art and Souvenirs: Dubai’s vibrant arts and crafts scene makes it an ideal destination for art enthusiasts and collectors. Whether you’re interested in traditional Arabic calligraphy, contemporary paintings, or unique handicrafts, bargaining for art and souvenirs can result in acquiring exquisite pieces at a fraction of the original price.
  1. Services: Bartering isn’t limited to physical goods; it can also extend to services such as transportation, home maintenance, and even rental agreements. Negotiating terms and prices for services can help expats manage their expenses more effectively.
Swap Service Image from Obodo Article


Bartering is an integral part of daily life in Dubai, offering expats an opportunity to engage with the local culture while securing great deals. By understanding the customs of bartering and employing strategic negotiation tactics, expats can navigate the bustling markets of Dubai with confidence. Whether you’re shopping for furniture, clothing, electronics, art, or services, embracing the art of bartering can enhance your experience and help you make the most of your time in this dynamic city.


Obodo is a barter trade and buy-and-sell platform with a range of product listings. It connects sellers, traders, and buyers to help them list products for sale, find matches for barter trades and more. What are you waiting for? Download our app today!