The Spice Market in Dubai

by Andrea Butje on May 26, 2014

Goods at the spice market in DubaiEarly one morning, we took a small boat across a canal in Dubai to reach the spice and herb market.

This is not your ordinary market—the spice market is filled with the aroma of burning frankincense resins, and with the colorful, aromatic presence of the herbs and spices being sold. Every few steps someone is doing their best to get you to come into their area and buy their goods. It’s loud, confusing, and chaotic—but it smells great!

another booth at the spice market

In some places, there are different kinds of burners sitting atop the spice bags, filled with charcoal, herbs and resins, creating the smoke that fills the market with the rich aroma of the United Arab Emirates. We saw huge cinnamon sticks, dried lavender and rose flowers, turmeric, ginger, dried lemons, cloves, salt, frankincense and myrrh resins, and so much more.

Shelves at the spice marketI bought a ceramic resin burner (see the picture below) and some charcoal to burn the resins I was given at the frankincense distillery the day before. For the next two weeks, we burned the resins every day in the Seychelles Islands to keep the mosquitoes away at dawn and dusk—it worked great! We stayed in an open-air room and slept with the doors wide open, so the resin smoke was a huge help in keeping the bugs away . . . not to mention the aroma was divine.

I bought one of these ceramic burners and some charcoal.

I’ve never seen so much frankincense resin before! Most of the merchants at the spice market bought their resins from the distiller we visited, and they import it all from Somaliland. There is a wonderful distillery in Vermont, USA that also imports all their resin directly from Somaliland, and they distill the most beautiful certified organic Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils. This is the link to their company called Boswellness.

So much frankincense for sale at the spice market!

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Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Evette March 29, 2017 at 1:33 pm

I am just reading this and already am transported on an imaginary trip.. The sights the sounds, the textures and smells, and the taste to expect are leaving me ready to experiment and explore. What a blessing to have been able to experience all this for yourself. Thanks for sharing. I love to cook with spices and use the oils. Now I am inspired to burn some resins.


Andrea Butje March 29, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Evette, I love cooking with spices too! I hope you enjoy burning resins as much as I do.


Marilyn July 16, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Wow, why can’t we have spice markets like that here in the US? Amazing, and I’m so jealous of your trip!

Where can we get ceramic resin burners like you purchased?


Andrea Butje July 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Marilyn – I so agree! I would love to just meander a spice market on a Saturday morning… sounds divine! You can find resin burners on Amazon; there are tons if you just do a quick search 🙂


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