It’s widely known among Pinoys that Dubai is a longtime OFW hub. As of this year, Filipinos form 21.3% of the total population in Dubai. As a result, there bloomed places dedicated solely to Pinoys. Accordingly, these spots would have the cures to Pinoys’ homesickness. Read on below as our resident writer walks you through the staple Pinoy central in Dubai.
The Origin of Al Attar Shopping Centre
This shopping center in Karama, Dubai is a Pinoy classic. No one could quite pinpoint what year this establishment first opened its doors. Looking around though, you could tell that it’s been here for ages. What we do know is that around 2001, it morphed into a one-stop-shop for all things Pinoy.
During those times, OFWs would go there not only to shop. But also, go into the now-extinct internet shops to video chat with their families back home. Al Attar was also a place in Dubai where Pinoys would visit their family doctors and dentists. This place had everything.
Al Attar Shopping Centre Now
Today, Al Attar Shopping Centre remains a hub for all Pinoy needs in Dubai. Despite the devastating pandemic, Pinoys in Dubai still frequent this place, specially during the weekends, or on their days off.
To the locals, this mall is Kabayan territory. It’s a melting pot where you can even find Indian and Pakistani sellers speaking fluent Filipino. In order to cater to their clientele, of course!
Fellow Pinoys refer to it as the Divisoria of Dubai. Some say it’s reminiscent of Greenhills, San Juan with all the tiangge-style mobile shops. However you may call it, Kabayans here agree that Al Attar is a comforting portal to home.
The Shops in Al Attar
When we say they have almost everything Pinoy, we’re not kidding. Pinoys come here to feast on the meals and snacks they miss the most. There’s the usual ukay-ukay as well. But what’s more surprising is that most of the stalls are devoted to mobile or cellphone needs.
And then there’s the occasional Baguio broom in random corners. Weird! Or, not so weird. People have said it’s more effective than plastic brooms!
It’s hard to get homesick when the smell of fresh pan de sal lingers as you stroll and shop.
Pan Pugon Tinapie Cafe not only whips up batches of Pinoy bread staples – they also have a selection of nuts, chicharon, and other finger food favorites.
When snacks aren’t enough, Pinoys come to this restaurant for a literal feast. Yes, extra rice orders are welcome here!
Kabayans know that getting their hair and nails done in Dubai is highway robbery. As a result, salons in Al Attar are open almost every day to make Pinays look and feel beautiful for reasonable prices.
And of course, no Pinoy hub would be complete without a shop that would let them send something back to their families.
In this day and age, Pinoys are present all over the globe. With that, places like Al Attar are sure to be found in other countries as well. It’s just one way our Kabayans can feel closer to home.