Dubai: I grew up in the UAE as an Egyptian - Canadian expat, who travelled back and forth to Alexandria and Toronto every summer. Luckily, Canada didn’t have much family living in it, so we never needed to carry any gifts with us there. Egypt on the other hand, required one dedicated suitcase of just gifts.
My dad would pack his luggage, and make sure there was always enough room for several bags of mixed nuts, Arabic coffee powder, chocolates, dates and a couple of cartons of cigarettes, which I definitely do not condone. Fancy cigarette brands aren’t exactly affordable in Egypt, so we take a few boxes to give to some family members there. So what do others in the UAE pick up when they travel to their families back home?
Dates, chocolates and more
Dates, Arabic sweets and chocolates were a very common answer from most of the expats we asked. “I like to get my family in Mexico chocolates that are produced locally, like the Emirati collection chocolate from Mirzam. I love the rose flavour ones” said Alberto to Gulf News.
“I buy my family in India a selection of Arabic sweets from Wafi Gourmet,” Purti told Gulf News.
The UAE’s iconic fruit was one of the most popular items to bring home or on vacation from the UAE. “I mainly buy good quality dates for my family in Lebanon,” said Nadine. “I usually get people whatever they ask for but I mainly buy great Emirati dates.”
“I like to bring back dates and ingredients to make karak tea,” said Ana, a Colombian native living in Abu Dhabi. “My family back home loves eating dates with a cup of karak on the side.”
“Half my bag while travelling to Ottawa this summer was karak tea sachets for my brother,” said Suhda, a Palestinian living in Dubai.
“Camel milk chocolate and gourmet dates are my go to essentials for my family in the Netherlands,” Alex told Gulf News.
“I always buy dates. They are delicious and affordable here and usually super expensive to get in Toronto or elsewhere. I also get Patchi chocolates. Canada has a lot of yumminess, but they do not have the yumminess of Patchi,” said Dina, a Canadian living in Dubai.
“I always buy dates,” said Rusol. “I know it’s so cliché, but everyone loves how good our dates taste like here, so they always ask for them. I will also buy toys for the kids in the family.”
“For some reason, when my family in India knows that I am coming for a visit, they ask me to bring them Tang,” said Sahithya.
“When I travel to my aunts and uncles in Australia, I always take with me a box of baklava, mini shishas, pashminas, lanterns and gold,” Jessica said to Gulf News.
“I go to Candylicious at Dubai International,” said Joanna. “I get the ‘Dubai mix’ sweeties.” Joanna takes these sweets back to her family in the UK.
Clothes, bags, perfume and beauty products
“What I buy usually depends on which ‘home’ I visit,” said Wajiha. “If I am going home to Canada, I will buy traditional jalabiyas, abayas and lots and lots of dates. When we visit our other home in Iran, we bring our families handbags and tons of branded lotions.”
“Dubai has a lot of things that my home country doesn’t have in the same good quality,” said Shady to Gulf News. “When I travel back to Egypt, I will buy my parents perfumes. I will get my brother electronics usually, I buy make up for my sister and for my group of friends, I buy a box of doughnuts. For some reason, my friends will literally visit me in my home, so they can eat a doughnut from Dubai. They don’t have doughnuts in Egypt as good as in Dubai.”
“I love buying people UAE Oud, perfumes and quirky little things for the home,” Lina told Gulf News.
Karim picks up a lot of things when he travels. “I get people cigarettes, dokha and bukhoor scents. These are the things you can’t really find at a great price outside of the UAE.”
“I like to get skincare products for my mom and cologne for my dad,” said Elma.