There are countless ways to pamper yourself in Dubai but the latest one that I have discovered is far from the experiences that you may have heard of. While everyone may have told you stories of its high-end malls, remarkable buildings, skyscrapers, branded shopping, premium spas, luxury dining and Arabian enigma I will show you the old and the important side of Dubai. In my four weeks stay there, I ensured that I walked around the most engaging neighborhood and discovered the labyrinth of lanes (Bastakiya) that have a special connection from the past. And one that has kept it all thriving and has established the commercial position of Dubai today is the Creek. This 14 kilometers stretch of water happens to be the only port or harbor in the city that has many tales to tell, of Dubai’s past and its pearling industry. A few decades ago the real business of the city was done at the Dubai Creek.
Al Fahidi happens to be a ‘Historical District’ and the best part about my Dubai stay was that I was staying very close to Al-Fahidi Metro station. My proximity to the oldest heritage sites and the Creek-side really helped me to understand the origins of the new and commercial Dubai. A visit to the Creek definitely happens when you have a wish to go to the Spice and Gold Souk of Deira. In fact for me, the first to the Creek happened only when my husband and I decided to walk to the famous Souks on the other side of the warm and shallow waters. We walked from the Al Fahidi station to the Meena Bazaar, crossing the whole of Bastakiya neighborhood to find our way to the bank of the Creek. Bastakiya Nights Restaurant is located at the end of the Bastakiya neighborhood and once you reach there, you need to cross the road to get the first glimpse of the Creek water and Deira skyline. Deira is not only known for the old culture, old souks (markets) but also being the old financial center of the Emirate.
The NATIONAL DAY fervor could be seen in the ship decorations.
The banks of the Creek – Bur Dubai and Deira are vibrant and it was nice to see the everyday life of people there. Here, we could see the dhows (old fashioned cruise boats), Abras (water taxis) and small shipping boats whizzing back and forth across the Creek. It was the eve of National Day of UAE and we could see the celebration fervor all around. The big cargo and passenger boats looked beautiful. To experience and capture the essence of the area, we kept walking further until we reached the Dubai OLD SOUQ STATION. I was absolutely loving this part of Dubai and there were lots of new things to discover around. There were small shops of knick-knacks and a Souq too on this side of the creek but I was more curious around the Abra ride and the Deira Souqs. Soon we hopped on the abra that was all set to roll. I would say this is the most inexpensive thing to do in Dubai. The cost of crossing the Dubai Creek, Al Khor, which is only 1km wide is AED1 per person one way.
I went ahead and sat at one corner of the Abra and began to look around like an excited child. It was a breezy afternoon. The sun was at its best and the scenery and water looked beautiful with the rays falling everywhere. The skyline on both the sides could be clearly seen from the Abra and I was totally loving it. I had heard about the old world charm of Dubai but I could actually feel it while crossing the Creek. If you are still wondering what is a Creek, I must tell you that it is actually an inlet of the sea that cuts into the land. The Dubai Creek is famous for its strategic location and its deep connect with the past. The Creek divides Dubai into two areas, the Deira side (Northern side) and the Bur (Old) Dubai side. The Abra was taking us to the Deira Side. I recorded this 1 minute video to keep my memories intact.
We had heard that Deira side of Dubai have kaleidoscope of attractions and it really came out to be true. The lively bustle and the hive of kiosks of the Souqs were super addictive. There were narrow alleyways, scores of tiny restaurants and lots of food shops selling delicious and diverse food. I spent more than two hours strolling around from one Souq to another. Even though I was in no mood to buy Gold, it was quite an experience to walk from one end of the souq to another. I will write an elaborate post about the Souqs and life of people here. But for now I would just say that this side of Dubai is absolutely a laid-back tourist escape and everybody you meet here has a tale to share about the bygone era of the Emirate.
There will be a separate post on the spice souk, material souk, gold souk, commercial souk, coffee museum, municipality museum, etc. Do snoop around my site to read more of my Dubai Adventures. I am just back from 30 days trip of Dubai and I have some amazing tips to share.