UAE is known of what is called “Shopping Tourism”, all kinds of shops are there where you can buy almost anything, except for Film. yes some shops still sell analog photography supplies but there is not such a place where you can find it all, also some items cannot be procured locally and have to be imported from outside which can be quite a challenge some times as you will see below.
1- Buying Analog Cameras:
Let us start by the first thing you may look for if you are new to Analog Photography, Buying a Camera, and here are your options:
- eBay: I list this first because it is the most flexible option you have, think of any camera ever made and I guarantee you will find one listed on eBay, there is no denial that eBay has some risk factor, but if you know how to shop smartly on eBay, you will be OK if not addicted, here is a nice article on buying photographic supplies from eBay: How to Win at eBay
- Online used markets: Mostly through FB groups like UAE Photography Marketplace, or sites like Dubizzle. However you will discover that there are not many options for analog cameras there.
- Buying New Cameras from local shops: Also you will find yourself limited to cameras like Lomography and Fuji Instax, if that’s what you are looking for, you can find it at famous photography shops.
The following articles are good reading of you don’t know which camera to buy:
2- Buying Film:
Few film types are still available in local shops in UAE and kept in reasonable stock, other film types are only available through online shopping, here is a quick breakdown:
- Local Shops: You can buy B&W stuffs from Salam Stores, Wafi Mall, Dubai.. they are distributors for Ilford products in UAE, also GPP and local labs keep stocks of certain types of film, you can find GPP online store here, and for other local labs you will mostly find color negative film in 35 and 120 formats but better to call and check yourself as this keeps on changing.
- eBay: Again if you are looking for a specific film type like Velvia slide film, or LF film of any type, then eBay is where you should go, many sellers offer free shipping through regular mail service, and don’t worry about film getting scanned in customs or storage conditions, I have been buying film through eBay to UAE for the last two years and never had a problem.
- Other online shops: Many international online shops offer world wide shipping, shipping cost will vary but bulk orders should make it reasonable. Freestyle Photographic Supplies, ADORAMA, B&H, and may others are still selling not only film, they have also chemicals, dark room supplies, etc..
3- Buying Film Development Chemicals
This is the tricky part, many of the film developing chemicals are considered Hazardous and require special handling when shipped, any liquid material can only be shipped in specific quantities if the receptionist is not having a trade license, add to that the fact tat shops allowed to import chemicals are reluctant to stock chemicals due to the low demand, so here are your options when it comes to buying developing chemicals:
- Local Shops: Salam Stores have stock of Ilford chemicals, not all of them but that might be the best option if you are just starting.
- Importing Powder chemicals: Chemicals that come in powder form are the easiest to import as they are mostly non hazardous and wont get flagged if purchased at reasonable quantities, just avoid big orders as it will get block at customs and will take you some effort and money to get it cleared.
- Importing Liquid Chemicals: Some developing chemicals come only in Liquid format, like E6 developing kits and HC110 for B&W, you may import these in small quantities at your own risk, one way is through Shop and Ship but be aware that it will first be blocked and you will have to write them an email asking for it to be shipped in their new special flight for added cost and be aware that it will take some time. Be aware that if you import Hazardous chemicals through eBay for example, you may get into some serious trouble, so please be aware of the regulations and follow them.
- Desert Cart: This online store lists developing chemicals from time to time, they manage to import liquid kits for you but its a bit pricy (Click here for link).
4- Buying Developing tanks and other related items:
Salam Stores sells metallic daylight developing tanks, Paterson Tanks can be purchased online and shipped to UAE easily along with almost any other item you may need. Also note that plastic containers, funnels, thermostats, and measuring jars cab be found at hardware and grocery shops.
5- Other stuff:
For any other item related to analog photography you can always rely on eBay or any of the online stores mentioned above, if you are having hard time finding a specific item, please comment below and we will do our best to help you find it.