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The traditional markets, or souks, of the Gulf States, where Bedouin herdsmen used to buy and sell livestock and other desert essentials, were mostly pulled down in the 1970s. But their contemporary equivalents are no less compelling places to browse and shop – especially if you’re into gold. Whole streets of the metal the Arabs adoringly call ‘thahab’ line up in the UAE capitals – a particularly spectacular sight at night, when they’re brightly lit and sparkling. Also worth a look are stalls selling traditional perfumes and incense, replica dhows, local dress and – a real treat – live flacons, which preen for prospective buyers on perching posts.