My new address in Dubai was Bur Dubai which means ‘Mainland Dubai’. Being the oldest area of Dubai it is the home of some historical attractions and I instantly connected to it. Here, you will get the taste of old Dubai and immediately fall in love with the city. It is real and has its own charm.
Bur Dubai Creek
This is one of my favorite. The long evening walks by the creek side were a part of our daily routine. It was just ten minutes from my hotel apartment. The Creek played a significant role as far as Dubai’s history is concerned. It is a narrow sea-water inlet which divides Dubai into two parts – Deira and Bur Dubai.
Deira is the older side which is the main commercial area along Dubai Creek, whereas the relatively modern part is Bur Dubai and beyond. In Deira you will find age old shops of each and every kind that you can think of. There are merchants whose great – grandfathers first established shops at Deira. There is a saying that if you don’t find in Deira, you will never find it.
Each part has their identities and style. Dubai Creek has the flavor of century old tradition and distinctive lifestyle. It is very real. The open air restaurants, people from all parts of the world smoking flavored “Hookah” (water pipe), beautiful luxury boats, private yachts, traditional Dhow and salty smell of the sea…casts a magical spell. We used to spend hours in the evening or post dinner. Dhow Cruise cannot be missed when in Dubai. You can find different types of cruises with or without dinner.
Sailing into the creek with the evening prayers at the background, a soft sea breeze on your face and the fading shorelines makes it even more romantic.
Souq in Arabic means market. Though all the old souqs are all located on the other side of the Bur Dubai Creek i.e. Deira, for me it was just a 10 minutes ride in the Abra (a local ferry). This was the best way to enjoy the sights of the city skyline from the creek. Dubai has always been associated with gold and you have to visit the gold souq just to experience the sight of the gold ornaments hanging inside the glass windows. Shops on both sides on the lane displaying heavy weight gold! I had never seen something like that before. It was jaw dropping indeed. There are over 300 shops which sell jewelry made of gold, silver, platinum and diamond. From a stylish diamond rings to over the top wedding necklaces, you will have plenty of options.
Moreover, the old heritage structure (with wooden roof) of the souq and the alignment of the shops always fascinated me. The narrow dark alleys, the typical fragrance used by Emiratis, and those glittering gold – this is Gold Souq for you. Yes, I must mention about the Spice souq as well. You will find variety of spices, fragrances including incense, perfumes, medicinal herbs, dried fruits, nuts, dried lemons, saffron, and frankincense (an aromatic resin used in Hookah). Unfortunately the 24×7 hypermarkets have curbed the demands of spices sold here in Deira.
This is another attraction in Bur Dubai. I felt as if I was in a time machine. It is located in Al Fahidi Fort. The Fort Was built in 1787 and is the oldest structure in Dubai. The timings are 8.30am to 7.30 pm on all days except Friday. The timings on Friday are 2pm – 7.30pm.
Two canons guard the main gate of the Museum. The Dubai Museum showcases how a Bedouin village has turned out to be the global center of commerce and finance. It has models of the early dwellings made of mud and palm, camels, first fishing boat, shopkeepers, craftsmen and so on. They also showcase a video which describes the extraordinary development and transformation of Dubai. I had no clue that the economy of Dubai centered on fishing and pearl diving until mid-19th century when oil was discovered. I found the archaeology section to be interesting as well which showcases the miniatures of early settlements. Going down the spiral stairs you will find an antique gift shop.
Here are few glimpses of the Dubai Museum…