"You absolutely must see...Part 2" Top 5 Page for this destination Dubai Travelogue by colin_bramso

Dubai Travel Guide: 4,085 reviews and 12,063 photos


You may have spent the whole evening in Deira, which is easy to do because there's so much to see, so you may have to do the second part of the tour on the next evening. It doesn't matter, don't be in a hurry, just relax, take your time, soak up the atmosphere.

The abra ride is only a few minutes but is fascinating. The city looks different from low down on the water, and you can take some wonderful photographs.

When you arrive at an abra station on the Bur Dubai side of the Creek you're just about in the old souk already, it starts right there. The textile & garment souk is here, with the most amazing choice of materials plus a variety of shops selling clothing, shoes, souvenirs, antiques, watches - just about anything - plus little eating places and larger restaurants.

Just wander around and you'll move out of the souk into the old shopping area which leads up to the main Al Fahidi Street.

Al Fahidi Street, and the smaller streets and laneways leading off it, is a fascinating area, full of bargains. You'll find everything from gold shops, designer clothing, electronics, household goods to souvenirs, cheap T-shirts, shoes, watches...

Again, just wander around and don't worry about safety, it's perfectly safe.There are hundreds of little shops in the area, all crammed from floor to ceiling and wall to wall with whatever it is they're selling. Hardly room to move around, but there are plenty of bargains to be had. Don't forget to haggle over the price, they never start off with the lowest price. And bargain hard, don't be shy. They will never sell to you at a loss, regardless of the hard-luck story they give you!

Also around this area you'll see many beautiful mosques, all different, some plainer, some very ornate. All are photogenic so make sure you have your camera with you.

Bastakiya is back towards the Creek from the shopping area, next to the Ruler's Court, and you should walk back to it.

It was part of the original area that was settled when Dubai was founded, is now a Heritage area and is being restored and rebuilt.

It's a fascinating place to wander around to get a feel for what Dubai was like before the modern city took over. Narrow alleyways, mud walls reinforced with blocks of coral, windtowers, barjeel, mosques of course.

Now it's also home to many art galleries and small museums and several cafes and restaurants.

Now you're going to have a look around Heritage Village, on the banks of the Creek on the bend down towards its entrance to the Gulf.

This is in Shindagah, where the first settlement that became Dubai was established. The area is being restored, what buildings remained have been restored and others are being rebuilt in traditional style.

What I find interesting is that whenever we've been to Heritage Village there are more Emiratis than other people visiting. They're obviously enjoying experiencing their own history. One area they flock to is where the ladies are making a variety of traditional snack food. All based on the flat unleavened Arabic bread, but each cook does it differently - some is sweet, some savoury, some thin, some thick. It's fascinating to watch them preparing it and it's very cheap if you want to try it.

On festive occassions there's traditional dancing in a sandy area with the old buildings as a backdrop. The dancers seem to be doing it as much for their own enjoyment as for entertaining the onlookers, and that adds to the atmosphere. It's all very natural, not carefully or artificially choreographed like so many tourist shows around the world.

And finally you've earned a rest, a cool drink, a meal. And where better to do it than in one of the open-air restaurants along the Creek's bank in Shindagah. They're all excellent, all a little different, so take your time, read the menus, decide which one you prefer. People eat late in Dubai, so after 9pm is the best time for atmosphere.

Our favourite is Kanzaman, the last one in the row. The old restored buildings at the back, where you can eat inside if you wish, the Creek to the front with the dinner-cruise dhows ablaze with decorative lights sailing past, the moon above, the call to prayer echoing out from the various mosques on both sides of the Creek, the palm trees with decorative lights around them, the sweet smell of flavoured tobacco from the people smoking shisha, the water pipe/hubble bubble. It's a great place to soak up the atmosphere.

For a refreshing change, drink my favourite fresh lemon & mint juice. Try the Arabic dishes - my favourite is Shish Tawook, which is grilled marinated chicken pieces served with saffron rice, which I have with a dish of hommos. A basket of bread and olives are included in the amazingly cheap price. Then a Turkish coffee to finish. And if you're a smoker you may want to try shisha yourself.

So there you are, you've experienced the real Dubai, the place where the city began back in 1830, and the reason for it's beginning, Al Khoor, the Creek.

  • Page Updated Feb 8, 2015
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