11 Tips to Buy Gold at Dubai Airport

11 Tips to Buy Gold at Dubai Airport

Gold can be bought online. It’s almost an ostentatious Amazon purchase but check the price of this uncirculated Dragon Series Gold Bar.

The gold isn’t as heavy here, but it’s a prime collector’s piece. Check this uncirculated Two Dollar Bill layered with gold.

Many Dubai visitors buy their gold at the Gold Souk in Deira. But if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the city, or are only passing through the airport on your way to someplace else, then you can shop for gold at the Dubai airport instead. And since buying gold is a big investment, doing your research in advance will ensure you put your money in the right place.

The tips that follow will help you make smart purchase decisions and avoid problems with customs. Most of the gold shops at the airport carry jewelry, but you can also buy gold coins, 10-tola bars, Swiss PAMP gold bars, 500-gram bars, and more. But when you buy from the airport, you will, of course, have fewer options in design as compared to the shops at the souk and other gold shops across Dubai.

Anyway, let’s get to it. Here are the 11 tips for buying gold at Dubai Airport that we’re going to discuss in this article:

  • Terminal 3 has the best options in gold
  •  Don’t expect to be able to haggle at the airport
  • Try to buy between January and April
  • Know the gold import norms of the destination country
  • Check for hallmark
  • Research prices before you buy
  • Don’t forget capital gains tax
  • Airport gold shops may not buy old gold
  • Pay in cash to avoid convenience surcharge
  • Check for warranty
  • Buy gold during the festivals and on weekends

Tip 1: Shop at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3

You can shop for gold at the Dubai Duty Free shops of Terminal 1 or Terminal 3.  

However, Terminal 3 has the most number of shops. So, if you are short on time, it makes more sense to head straight to Terminal 3. You’ll find a variety of jewelry options, trinkets, watches, etc. by top local and international brands here.

Expect brands like Malabar, which carries a lot of Indian-style jewelry. Some shops carry Burj Khalifa or Palm Jumeirah gold coins that are valuable and iconic. Expect to find everything from 1 kg gold bars to gold coins, to suit a variety of gold buyers.

But don’t forget that the airport doesn’t have it all. If you have time, head down to the Gold Souk. The Gold Souk has over four hundred shops where you can revel in all kinds of gold purchases.

In Dubai, the new 5 percent VAT on gold does raise the price of gold. But in the end, gold is still cheaper in Dubai than in many other countries around the world where taxes are exorbitantly high (10 percent in some US states and in India.) If you have to buy gold, Dubai airport is probably a better place to shop than many of the gold shops around the world.

Tip 2: Don’t Expect to Haggle at the Duty-Free

You can haggle down gold prices at many shops at the Gold Souk in Deira. But don’t expect to be able to do the same at Dubai airport. Gold prices are fixed there. 

The tradition in Dubai is to be very transparent about the costs. You pay the current price for the weight of the item in gold and the making charge over it. Gold prices remain the same across shops, while the making charge varies.

When you haggle and save money at a cheaper souk shop, you’re effectively haggling for the shop to lower how much making charge you pay. You’ll come across people who say they have bought gold at a Dubai souk with no making charge. Expect prices at the airport to be higher than prices in the city, since you can’t bargain.

Making changes will depend on the country of origin. For example, you’ll find gold from Europe has a higher making charge than gold from Singapore.

Tip 3: Try to Buy Gold in the First Quarter

Gold prices tend to be the lowest in the first quarter of the year. If you buy jewelry, coins, or bars between January and April, you’ll pay much less than what you’d pay in August, for instance. 

You can wait for gold prices to drop in March and get the lowest prices. That way, you can maximize your dollars or dirhams and get the most bang for your buck.

Tip 4: Check Gold Import Norms of your Destination Country

Be mindful of where you’re going with your gold. 

What are the import norms there? For example, a lady can buy a gold bracelet or two at Dubai Duty-Free and wear it into India, no questions asked. 

But if you have bought more gold than customs allows in undeclared, then you’re likely to be stopped by customs officials. You can avoid this hassle simply by limiting how much you buy and what you buy. Look up the customs website for rules and avoid paying huge fees.

Also, check if your destination country allows in duty-free gold in the form of biscuits and coins. Anything over and above the “allowed” duty-free limit will have to eventually be declared and taxed.

Tip 5: Check for Hallmark

The reason Dubai gold is so popular with shoppers to the city is the meticulous testing and rigorous quality standards that the authorities hold gold sellers to. The Dubai Central Laboratories Department (DCLD) strictly regulates the quality by a voluntary certificate scheme called ‘Bareeq.’ 

In Dubai, you can typically expect to find 24K gold at 999.9 percent fineness. However, you should always look for the gold purity hallmark that jewelry stores across the city are required by law to carry on every item.

As a customer, you can ask the retailer details such as the weight of gold and the fineness. Fineness refers to the purity of gold, in terms of how many parts out of 1,000 contains gold as opposed to other trace metals mixed in.

The fineness marks are going to be tiny. But unless you look for them, you could potentially end up with a piece of jewelry without resale value a few years down the line.

If you can’t see the numbers etched on the piece of jewelry, you can request a magnifying glass to help you see. If the quality marker set by the inspectors at the DCLD is etched on the gold, you have proof of its genuineness.

Most gold from around Dubai will carry this stamp, and the stamp will be a true reflection of the quality of gold. Inspectors under the Bareeq Certification carefully monitor quality and visit stores at least three times a year for random checks. They ensure the scales are calibrated to the smallest milligram.

Any issues in quality at the gold stores are usually found in imported gold. Sometimes, gold imported from another country can have different fineness and quality than is printed on the packaging. Only the Dubai Municipality can tell when a gold sample is not pure, using an X-ray machine that senses 24 different elements at one time.

Effectively, you’ll be looking for the following elements of a hallmark:

  • A jeweler’s mark
  • Fineness number that corresponds to the carat amount
  • Assaying and Hallmarking Mark, like a signature on the tamper-proof packaging of a gold coin that you buy
  • Year of marking

And here are the fineness numbers associated with various caratage of gold:

  • 24 carat gold carries a fineness mark of 999
  • 22 carat has a fineness of 916
  • 21 carat has a fineness of 875
  • 18 carat has a fineness of 750
  • 16 carat has a fineness of 666
  • 14 carat has a fineness of 583
  • 12 carat has a fineness of 500

Tip 6: Research Prices Before you Buy

Gold in Dubai is undoubtedly cheaper and of better quality than in the rest of the world. You can safely buy gold that you know is pure and you don’t have to worry about false advertising. But buying gold is not so straightforward, even in Dubai.

Intricate jewelry that is high on craftsmanship can end up costing much more than you expect. Know the gold rates on the day before you go to buy. You’ll find that there are two rates for gold in Dubai, just as there are in the rest of the world. You’ll find the price of 1 gram of gold displayed on big boards near the gold shops at the souks and more discreetly at the airport.

You’ll likely overpay if you don’t do your research before you shop. Airport gold shops can charge whatever they wish for a finished piece of jewelry. Prices of jewelry are not set by weight. So it’s up to you to walk around the shops, compare prices, and make an accurate calculation of what the making charge should be. 

Some items are marked up by as much as four times over the weight-price of gold plus making charge. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the purchase.

Tip 7: Don’t Forget About Capital Gains Tax

In many countries, gold is seen as a collectible. It’s placed in the same category as art. In such countries, when it comes to selling your gold, you will have to pay huge capital gains taxes. 

In the United States or the UK, for example, capital gains taxes can go up to 28 percent of the profits you make from the sale. Losing such a huge chunk of an investment can deter many investors from buying gold with the prospect of growing its value. In Canada, you may have to pay capital gains tax up to 50 percent of your income.

Such restrictions can make you think twice about how much gold you buy at Dubai airport if you’re thinking of the purchase as an investment.

Tip 8: Souks may buy Old Gold, Airport Vendors May Not

If you want to exchange your old gold for new, you can do so at the gold shops at the Gold Souk. The gold shops at the airport don’t usually take in old gold. If you do have the time to exit the airport and enter the city, make sure you carry any certificates of authenticity. Also, be prepared to answer a lot of questions. 

Exchanging your old gold for new is a great way to upgrade your jewelry collection without making a dent in your bank balance. However, it requires a bit more effort, and you probably won’t be able to do it at the airport. 

Tip 9: Pay in Cash if Possible

In Dubai, it is always advisable to pay in cash when you buy gold. 

In the Gold Souk, cash is better because it is easier to negotiate when you’re paying cash. And at the airport, cash is better because you won’t have to pay the 1 to 2 percent surcharge for convenience on your card.

Fortunately, you don’t have to bother about running around with a lot of cash. You can simply withdraw the AED or dollars that you need at a nearby ATM.

Tip 10: Check for Warranty

Gold is expensive, and it can wear out. You want your jewelry to last you a lifetime. However, it’s easy to get gold damaged due to overuse or improper storage. It’s important to check that there is a warranty on the gold item you’re purchasing. Some jewelers will offer free repair services for up to a year after purchase.

A warranty may not make sense if you don’t travel to Dubai a lot. But if you do, it’s a good idea to make sure you have recourse to technical support when you need it.

Tip 11: Know the Best Time to Buy Gold in Dubai

While the first quarter of the year is a good time to buy gold anywhere, there are certain times of the year when Dubai attracts more gold buyers than at other times. 

The Dubai Shopping Festival held in December and January is one example. During the festival, you get to enjoy great deals on jewelry and gold.

Another time to splurge on gold is during the Dubai Summer Surprises, between June and August. You’ll find plenty of retail offerings during these shopping festivals, along with entertainment options and more.

It’s also a good idea to shop for gold on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s easier to get a good deal these days. The prices won’t be traded on international exchanges until Monday at 2 AM. You will enjoy steady rates and less stressful shopping.


Dubai is a great place to buy gold. Dubai Airport’s Duty Free is excellent for shopping when you’re on a layover or when you don’t have time to enter the city. But for an experience of the best deals and to enjoy the true nature of gold shopping in Dubai, be sure to visit the Gold Souk at Dubai Mall.

To recap, these are the things you should keep in mind when shopping for gold at Dubai Airport:

  • Head to Duty Free at Terminal 3. That’s where the best gold shops are, although Terminal 1 also has a few shops you can shop at. But be careful about the distance between your arrival and departure gates during a short layover. Sometimes it can take twenty minutes to get from one to the other. It may not be worth missing your flight to buy gold.
  • You can buy Dubai gold at Dubai Airport without worrying about purity or false representation on the packaging. But always check for hallmark and warranty. Dubai gold quality may be strictly monitored by the government. But sometimes imported gold from other countries can turn out to be less pure than advertised.
  • If you can’t see any hallmark with the naked eye, ask for a magnifying glass to help you. The jeweler’s mark and fineness marks are what you’re looking for. A sign of the assayer on the accompanying certificate is also important. Make sure to keep that certificate safe for when you resell in the future.
  • Your choices at the airport Duty Free will be limited when you think about the hundreds of shops out in the Old Souk where you can bargain and get a good deal. But if you’re not overly eager to bargain, you’ll find buying gold at the airport to be an easy and smooth process.
  • Try to buy on certain days and certain times of the year. During the Dubai Festival and on Saturdays and Sundays, you can get some good deals on gold.
  • Duty Free gold shopping is no longer free. But the new 5% tax in Dubai is lower when compared to the taxes on gold in most other parts of the world.
  • Look up the day’s international gold prices before you go to buy. That way, you’ll quickly be able to calculate how much the seller is charging for workmanship and decide if it’s worth buying.

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