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Dubai Duty Free

Wednesday 16 January 2019 (UAE)   

Dubai Duty Free (DDF)

Dubai Duty Free (DDF) operates the duty free shops at international airports in Dubai and other locations. List of DDF shops includes:

  • Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali.
  • Dubai International Airport in Al Garhoud
    • Terminal 1 arrivals and departure areas - good range of products, especially in departure terminal after customs.
    • Terminal 2 arrival (small shop) and departure area.
    • Terminal 3 arrival and departure areas - excellent range of products in both arrivals and departures.
  • Hatta land and road border post when entering the UAE (although you can easily walk across the road from the UAE exit point). Very small shop with perfume, cigarettes, newspaper, fluffy toys, chocolate. No alcohol sales.
Dubai Duty Free birthday discounts
  • 20 Dec 2083 - we're hoping for a 100% discount to celebrate the DDF 100th birthday (if we're still around). They haven't said yet if they will.
  • 20 Dec 2007 - from midnight to midnight, 24% discount offered on purchases to celebrate the DDF 24th birthday. Total anniversary sales were AED 46 million (21 Dec 2007 press release).
  • 20 Dec 2006 - discount of 23% from midnight to midnight to celebrate 23rd birthday.
  • 20 Dec 2003 - first time DDF has an anniversary sale with 20% discount to celebrate their 20th birthday.
Dubai Duty Free FAQs
  • Is alcohol and tobacco available at duty free shops in Dubai and UAE?
    • Yes at all airport duty free shops, both when departing and arriving. Some shops might have a limited selection.
    • Tobacco available at land border crossings, alcohol is not.
  • Can I bring alcohol, tobacco, and other items to the UAE if bought at an overseas duty free shop?
    • Yes, subject to import limitations and duty free allowances.
  • Is it cheaper to shop at DDF than other duty free shops around the world?
    • Generally much the same. Some items more expensive, some cheaper. Cigarettes seem to be cheaper than many other airports. Alcohol about the same but DDF Terminals 1 and 3 have a better selection than many places. Perfume and electronics similar prices to other airports, perhaps more expensive than some Asian or US airports if at an airport in the country of manufacture of the product you're looking at.
  • Is it cheaper to shop at DDF than in Dubai?
    • Not usually except for cigarettes and alcohol. Both have duty of 30% or more in shops in Dubai, although cigarettes are still cheaper than most countries (US$10-$15 for a carton of 200 cigarettes in a supermarket in the UAE). Big shopping malls often have discounts making products cheaper than DDF prices. Dubai Outlet Mall has a couple of perfume shops with perfumes discounted cheaper than DDF most of the time, but for buying one bottle you won't save enough money to make it worth the time and expense of traveling there. DDF has a much better selection also.
    • Supermarket items - cheese, milk powder (yes it's available at DDF), noodles, chocolate, toothpaste, are all more expensive than in Dubai supermarkets - visit Carrefour as a default choice if you don't know where to go.
  • Can I buy alcohol at Dubai Duty Free?
    • Yes, except at land border crossings. Selection is very good at DXB Terminal 1 and 3 departures, very good at Terminal 3 arrivals, and quite good at Terminal 1 arrivals. Available but limited choice at Terminal 2 departures and arrivals.
  • Can I buy pork at Dubai Duty Free shops?
    • No, at least not that we've seen. But you can buy it in Dubai - at most Spinneys and Choithrams supermarkets, also Park N Shop. If it's wrapped properly there are no export restrictions from the UAE.
  • Do I need a UAE alcohol licence to buy alcohol at Dubai Duty Free?
    • For departures, no. We can't say anything about your destination though.
    • For arrivals, in theory, yes. In practice no. DDF won't ask you for one, and we've never heard of anyone having a problem with customs even if they do search your bags or take you in to the interrogation room. If you do have a problem it's more likely to be because they think you have drugs, are drugged, drunk, or you've offended UAE religion or culture in some way.
    • If arriving and traveling by metro, put your alcohol inside one of your bags. Alcohol transportation on the metro is not permitted, which translated into DubaiSpeak means don't make it obvious you have any and you should be fine. If you have a lot of alcohol, take a taxi instead. Walking outside in public from metro station to home or hotel with bags of alcohol is not advisable.
    • If arriving and traveling by taxi you should be fine with alcohol in the DDF bags (or duty free bags from another country if that applies). Don't start drinking it in the taxi though, or anywhere in public in Dubai for that matter.
  • Do DDF shops enforce alcohol and tobacco purchase limits?
    • Sort of. They will ask where you're going, or where you came from, check your boarding pass. But they're not customs and immigration so they seem to be acting in an advisory capacity rather than as a regulatory authority.
    • Customs on arrival in the UAE seems to have a greater degree of tolerance than most countries with respect to alcohol, cigarettes, and other duty free purchases. Up to a point. Two bottles of whisky instead of one you might get away with if you don't have any other alcohol. Or 6 bottles of wine instead of 4, and so on. Cigarette limit is high anyway.
2010 DDF update (20 July 2010 press release summary)
  • Dubai Duty Free is the largest airport retail operation in the world based on analysis by Generation Research. Top three are:
  • DDF with 2009 sales revenue of $1.14 billion
  • London Heathrow with sales of $1 billion
  • Seoul Incheon International Airport - sales figure not given.
  • Dubai Duty Free sales figure is 3.3% of total global duty free and travel retail sales (includes airports, airlines, ferries, and other shops), and is 5.5% of the airport duty free sales (comments by DDF head, Colm McLoughlin).
  • DDF sales for H1 2010 are $607 million, up 16% from 2009 H1, and which could indicate total 2010 sales of $1.2-$1.3 billion.
2007 information about Dubai Duty Free

20 Dec 2007 summary of press interview with Colm McLoughlin (not Colin) - DDF boss and Dubai's most famous Irishman

  • Dubai Duty Free started in 1983 with 100 employees, of whom more than 60 are still working for DDF at the end of 2007.
  • Opening day sales of about 160,000 dhs on 20 December 1983.
  • 2008 total sales expected to be about AED 3.7 billion.
  • Current floor space about 8,000 square meters in Terminal I.
  • New Terminal II shop will have about 8,000 sq m, and 5,000 sq m for terminal III.
  • New Maktoum International Airport at Jebel Ali will start with a 4,500 sq m shop.
  • Total floor space from 8,000 to 25,000 sq m from end 2007 to about 2010.

Other information (DDF press release or news report 20 Dec 2007)

  • Retail sales for 2007 expected to be about AED 3.1 billion, up 26% from 2006 with AED 2.6 billion in sales.
  • Perfumes account for the largest share of sales at about 14% of the total, gold is next with 11% of the total.
  • Current retail space of 7,000 sq m will grow to 15,000 sq m in May 2008 when Concourse 2 and Terminal 3 open.
  • Number of staff to increase by 1000.
  • Last year anniversary sales were AED 29.5 million.
  • Phase I at DWC airport to open in 2009 with retail area of 3000 sq m.
  • DDF head is Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
  • DDF awarded "Airport Retailer of the Year 2007" at the Frontier Awards in Cannes in October 2007, for the fifth time.
Last update Wednesday 04-Jun-2014
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Abu Dhabi AUH ABD ADB, Ajman AJM, Al Ain AAN, Dubai DXB, Fujairah FUJ, Ras Al Khaimah RAK, Sharjah SHJ, Umm Al Quwain UAQ

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