Having traveled extensively during my life to various destinations across the world, it struck me as odd that Dubai had always eluded me. A couple of months ago, the wife and I were discussing where to spend our Christmas holidays. We enjoy traveling and taking in new cultural experiences and were jotting down a list of places that we had yet to visit. My significant other mentioned that a friend who had once lived in Dubai spoke very highly about the place and the marvels that it has to offer. We did subsequent research and found out that Dubai had tall buildings, malls and a good transportation system – which seemed quite boring. However, we took a chance as I also wanted to explore Dubai for some business opportunities. And I am happy to say that we made the right choice.
Places to see in Dubai
While most people (us included) hold a distorted image of Dubai being an artificial city consisting merely of shopping malls and tall structures, it is so much more than that. We hired a guide service to help us which turned out to be a very wise move. We specifically asked for a tour tailored to our historical and cultural curiosity so we could get an idea of Dubai before modernization. We definitely recommend the following sites for people who want to know the real Dubai.
Of all the places that we visited whilst in Dubai, no place entranced us more for the sheer simplicity and the inter-mingling of various cultures in this quaint area in suburban Dubai. Meena Bazaar is basically downtown Dubai and is largely a market for various textiles and fabrics hailing from various nations including exquisite saris with intricate embroidery from India, wonderfully designed fabrics from China and Pakistan as well as the local Arab dresses. The people selling these products hail from different nations and are extremely friendly, helpful and above all multilingual. If a shopper gets hungry, there are vendors in the streets selling various delicacies such as the Arab staple food, the “Shawarma” which is a kind of chicken, vegetable and pickle wrap with aromatic sauces which are out of this world. Needless to say, we had a great time and bought some souvenirs to take back home.
Pursuing our endless quest for culture, we stopped at the Dubai Museum which according to most is one of the oldest structures in the Emirate and was once where the head of state had his premises. There are many historically significant relics to be found in the museum, which in itself tell a story of the city. Furthermore, we discovered certain prototypes which depicted Dubai in its early years prior to its emergence as a tourist hub when it was mainly an outpost and the main occupation was fishing and minor trades.
Abra is a location near downtown Dubai which is a creek that can be navigated via a water taxi in the form of cruise ships, traditional boats that can carry about eight to ten people at a single time. We also learnt that through this creek, goods are shipped to and from Dubai to all major ports in the Persian Gulf.
I must admit that with the missus in tow, I was hesitant in going to the Gold Souk. And I was quite right. The Gold Souk boasts beautifully carved jewelry from various locations that is quite literally the dream of every woman on the planet. Beautiful gold necklaces, bracelets, rings and other trinkets are on display as well as bars and ingots for investors. I got off cheap by buying a small bracelet. But hey, you could consider it an investment. Unless she plans on leaving you!
There were other places that we wanted to visit, such as the Spice market and some of the malls. However, our trip was short. We definitely plan of going back next year.
By Veselina Dzhingarova