Rather then getting ‘malled’ by modernity, we decided to experience the old markets of Dubai. The souks are traditional market places on both sides of the Dubai creek, and even if one has no intention of doing any buying, the experience is more than worth it.
Traditionally, most of the merchandise arrived into the city on dhows (traditional wooden vessels) and the traders haggled over prices at the souks adjacent to the docks. It is not much different today, for you got to haggle a little to get the best deal – there’s nothing better than a bargain!
The shopkeepers are quick to recognise a potential customer, and once they set their talons (no pun intended) on you, they won’t let go very easily. Most speak a little of many lingos, will thrown in a few phrases and are willing to showcase multiple variations of your product of choice if the see you are interested.
After wandering around the spice souk for a while and basking in the many fragrances, we took an Abra to get to the textile souk on the other side. Abras are traditional small, wooden boats used to cross Dubai creek. At a dirham for the ride, it is a cheap mode of transport and perhaps one of the best ways to see the city from a different perspective. And some of the boatmen are enterprising enough to take you for a ride up and down the creek if you are willingly to pay! (An interesting excursion in the evenings). The Abra stations are located on both sides of the creek and you don’t have to wait long to board one of the small boats.
At the textile souk you find everything… shawls, shoes, mirror work cushion covers, carpets, antiques, souvenirs, food shops… and the heady experience of pushing your way through hawkers and shoppers – both residents and tourists.
A great experience, for certain!