Retail Out Of The Box

Through market OTB, other DSF events, and Dubai initiatives, we are also providing young and new entrepreneurs a platform to showcase their products and talents. Our focus is the youth.” Laila Suhail

The 20th anniversary of DSF finished in Dubai today. Two points to quickly clarify here, is it just me that finds anything celebrating twenty years old in this region hard to get their head around as everything feels too new and DSF (for any UK readers) means Dubai Shopping Festival not that warehouse style sofa shop! Now we are all on the same page, I feel I can continue, the other half and I went on a little road-trip to our glitzy neighbour to visit Market OTB which was one of the main attractions of this year’s DSF anniversary celebrations.


It’s no secret that I like a little of what they call retail therapy, but I spared the other half his day off in the mall and instead we headed for Downtown Dubai to check out this outdoor festival. There’s something I’ve learnt after all these years of matrimony and that is to feed him first before attempting anything connected with retail and luckily this fitted in with another one of my plans, to visit Baker and Spice in the lovely Souk Al Bahar.


I keep seeing Baker and Spice popping up on my social media as a favourite with lots of Dubai folk and suffering from an extreme case of FOMO (fear of missing out) we popped in for a spot of lunch.


View from the Baker and Spice terrace


Salads from the Counter options at Baker and Spice

There are two very obvious and great things about Baker and Spice that struck me immediately. There was a great selection of healthy food on show as we entered the restaurant and there is a fabulous outdoor terrace located under the shadow of the mighty Burj Khalifa, a perfect spot to dine in this gorgeous weather. We both chose the ‘Salads from The Counter’ option which gives diners a taster plate (300g) of four freshly made salads made from seasonal ingredients sourced from local markets and organic farms for a very reasonable AED 58.


Souk Al Bahar IMG_8850

The counter offers a wide selection of colourful salads and is perfect for both meat eaters and vegetarians and the meal was accompanied by a basket of freshly made delicious bread. I can thoroughly recommend this salad option which is perfect for lunch and the coffee was good too, but for those who fancy something different there’s a full menu available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Click here to visit their website



But as usual I’ve digressed, the reason we went to Dubai and the reason for this post, Market OTB (Outside the Box). Unfortunately circumstances dictated that the day we visited the outdoor market was the start of the UAE’s three days of official mourning declared following the passing of the King of Saudi Arabia so all music and entertainment was cancelled as a mark of respect. There was a distinct lack of the lively vibe that Market OTB is known for, so the quirky stage adorned with recycled water bottles sat empty full of abandoned instruments and the atmosphere was eerily quiet.



Located in South Ridge Park, a short walk from the Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahr, the ten-day Market OTB event, in its second year is all about offering something different for the region with sustainable fashion and lifestyle pop-up shops operating from individual brightly primarily coloured refurbished shipping containers.



Organic brand Raw coffee was one of the food and beverage kiosks along with Baker and Spice spookily and there was an array of well-known Middle Eastern individual and funky brands among the fifty-five retailers like Soh, Socialista Boutique and West LA and many more offering clothes, accessories, jewelry, shoes, bags, quirky interiors, books, beauty products and even a skate ramp from RAGE. I was disappointed not to witness the musical stage performances, outdoor cinema screenings, workshops and other interactive activities but there’s always next year.




This sustainable shopping festival is part of Dubai’s Expo 2020 remit to work on reducing waste as well as conserving and protecting limited resources through supporting eco-friendly brands. Market OTB is following in the footsteps of the successful green retail concept adopted at BOXPARK in Shoreditch, London and a similar idea in New York.


Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.

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