After a visit to the Museum, still immersed in the story of Dubai’s evolution into its present glitzy avatar, I headed for the creek. The saltwater inlet divides the two districts of Deira and Bur Dubai.
Soon I was walking through the bustling ‘souks’ - market areas offering a milieu of artifacts from spices, textiles to pure gold – it was an amazing sight to discover a traditional Dubai just in the heart of the modern one. Rows of stores were placed in perfect symmetry – their names inscribed one after the other on the brick walls which ran almost continuously on both sides of the small alley. In the Textile Souk, richly embroidered clothes caught the eyes, fragrance of the spices filled the air in the Spices Souk, and then there were decorative items spread all around. The souks were a maze of colours and appeared to be right out of the market scenes in the Alladin stories…The Arabian Nights, of course! I beamed as the similarity unfolded before me.
The creek was a beautiful sight. Seagulls flew around and perched upon a heritage tower, many a visitor happily fed them. A flock of the birds stood upon a wooden platform, standing still as they looked in the same direction, as if waiting for a cue to begin a performance. The sight made me smile. A few abras lined up at the creekside, while a number of boats rode on the waters. The promenade along the waterside was lined up with restaurants and shops.
There was a road for vehicles nearby which ran between a modern market facility. I continued walking along the creekside, past the array of restaurants. The narrow lane opened up into a broader space, and the Ministry of Finance building stood at one side. As I walked ahead, I spotted the Al Shandagah Watch Tower, and behind it I could see a long wall which seemed to be the boundary of a mansion. Soon I discovered it to be the House of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. This was the residence of the monarch’s family till 1958. The grand building also housed the Juthoor Art Center. Soon the busy pathway led to an expanse of space. I guessed it to be a park-like setting. Red and white tiles on the ground made subtle designs; pretty red flowers bloomed in rows and the sand-coloured brick buildings had the distinct ‘old’ city touch. Green patches of lawns amidst these added to the beauty of the place.
As the day gradually gave way to the evening, I strolled back to the Abra station. From Bur Dubai Abra Station I boarded an abra, a local boat/water taxi to other side of the creek. The fare for the ride was collected in an interesting way – the driver doing a merry-go-round, extending his hand towards the seated passengers, and each of us dropped a One Dirham coin on his palm, the trip fare. It was a ‘1 Dirham? Am I in Dubai??’ feel and it had its own unique flavor. It was fun to make the trip across the creek, and lights from the buildings on both banks along with their dazzles upon the water added to the surreal beauty of the twilight.
On the Deira side of the creek, I stepped onto the Baniyas Road and went around for a glimpse of this part of the city. Here too smells of rich spices, perfumes and dazzling of the yellow metal in the Gold Souk would amaze every visitor. Back in Bur Dubai from Deira, I found the old marketplace glistening in the flood of lights. The monuments, including the Al Maktoum House were highlighted with powerful beams. For the day’s ‘hardwork’, I allowed myself some incentives and went around picking up a few goodies (which included 2 Kilos of Turkish Chocolates!).
PS : In case you want to know more about the trip, including the chocolates, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org