When in Dubai – markets and souks and the must to visit to feel the heartbeat of the city and discover its true spirit through the corners of Old Dubai.
Lots of people believe that Dubai is a new city 50 years old. But Dubai began life as a trading port almost 200 years ago and developed into a centre for trade, pearls, shipping and fishing.
Deira Fish Market
The place is always busy with men preparing the fish, talking and selling. The people here were friendly and smiling. In the UAE the fish amount declined by 80% in the last 30 years, so the buying of sustainable species such as Pink Ear Emporer and 2-Bar Seabream would be an asset.
After the fish market there is a fresh meat section. Here camel meat is a national speciality – very tender and tasty. Then there is the fruit and vegetable market where the stalls are piled high with colourful produce. And here are the dates – moist, dark and sweet. There are pyramids of dried apricots, almonds and jars of clear, golden honey.
Crossing Dubai Creek
The best way to cross Dubai Creek is by a simple Abra ride from Bur Dubai on the left bank to Deira on the right or back again. The Creek is lined with traditional Arabian and East African dhows with painted in blue. Things haven’t changed much over the years on this stretch of Dubai water but things will soon be different when the dhows move to a new wharf further up the Creek.
The colourful Textile Souk is full of vibrant fabrics, colourful cushions, carpets and shoes. And if you appear at Hindi Lane – you feel like in India. The smell of Jasmine and calls of Namaste hang in the air; vivid marigold garlands and sunshine flowers hang from kiosks and shops shine with magenta and gold cloth ready for sari-making.
The Spice Souk
The unmistakable smell of Frankincense hangs in the air when passing a myriad of stalls displaying capacious tubs of tiny dried rosebuds, teas, balls of blue indigo, twisted yellow roots of turmeric and all manner of herbs and spices. The spice souk is fragrant, colourful and fascinating. Don’t be fooled by fake saffron – the real thing should have a splayed end and stay dark when dropped in water.
The History of Coffee
Dubai’s Coffee Museum is in Hal Fahidi one of the city’s heritage hubs in Bur Dubai – the best way to learn more about coffee and its history than ever before. The coffee here is brewed on a contraption taken from a 300 year old design.
The souks and areas around Dubai Creek are a warren of alleyways and passages and it can be easy to lose your way. But when you get lost it’s the best thing you can do in life because when you get lost you discover the aromas, the flavours and the culture, the wonderful heritage of Old Dubai, its people, its traditions and its food.