Bur Dubai & Deira Back Streets


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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
February 6th 2012
Published: February 6th 2012
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A world away from the glitz of Downtown Dubai, I was very relieved to discover the 'real', working class, down to earth, gritty and historical areas of Bur Dubai and Deira, down by the Creek.

For my first month or so in Dubai, it seemed all I had seen were shiney towers and massive malls full of tourists and expats, and it seemed that all that was on offer was shopping. When I finally ventured down to the area by the creek I was so relieved, a breath of fresh air , metaphorically and literally...

At this time of year the weather is so mild, in fact I think it is one of the coolest winters in Dubai for some time... this means mild temperatures of low 20's and even a beautiful breeze blowing, and a little cooler in the evenings. I never experienced cool & mild weather like this when we were living in Abu Dhabi. It is extremely refeshing to be able to wander around during the days without battling the heat, so it is an excellent time for me to go exploring.

In Bur Dubai, you walk through a maze of latticed covered alleys, the Souk: stall holders trying to tempt you with the finest silks and cashmere, bags, watches, sheesha pipes, freshly opened coconuts to drink from... This leads on the the Abra station which takes you across the creek for only 1 dirham ( about 30cents) to Deira.

In Deira you land in a bustling, lively, colorful environment. Wooden Abras jostling for space, people loading and unloading, a melting pot of nationalities all through the back streets and Souks. The Spice Souk greets you first, with their large hessian bags of dried lemons, Frankincense, exotic herbs and spices..curiously trying to guess what is in their baskets and bags... the stall holders are very keen to chat and tell you what the various colorful arrangements are.. big blocks of Indigo for dyeing jeans..incense, dried whole lemons, large rocks of salt, saffron etc.

The Spice Souk leads on to the Gold Souk. Alongside the highly decorated, yellow gold, Indian Wedding necklaces,filling the window displays, the souk is full of spruikers touting for business, quietly rumbling offers of knock off watches , designer handbags as you walk past... There are nice old wooden seats under the wooden lattice cover of the souk, to sit and watch the world go by, even better with an icecream in hand!

Venturing further in to the back streets, I love looking down all the narrow alleyways, a maze of alleys and narrow streets all open for business, small shops in every nook, offering shiney silks, carpets, gold , leather bags, etc. The streets are too narrow for the trucks to deliver the goods to the shops, so they are unloaded and taken to the shops on old wooden carts. You see hard working men pulling these heavy laden carts of boxes down all the back streets, then later, you see them taking a well earned rest, lying on their cart until the next delivery.

Although the hard working people here seem to work and live in harsher conditions, they seemd to have a strong sense of community and friendship and happiness. I am sure they would all welcome better living and working conditions, but there does seem to be more of an essence of community and friendship, a substance and history that seems to be lacking in the glitz of the malls and towers throughout the rest of the city.

I love this area for all its character and unexpected delights, I like to return here to be rejuvenated and inspired, taking my thousands of photographs!


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