Deira, an ancient area of Dubai, is still a stranger for me. Yes, I have glimpsed it once. During my subsequent meetings I tried to capture new features but I have failed to understand it fully.

The breath of history

Deira is a completely alternative Dubai which differs from that up-to-date and advanced megapolis I know very well.

This ancient part of Dubai is conditionally separated from the rest of the city by the Dubai Creek. Deira is quite different- even the air, filled with sea and fish odour, is wetter.

Wooden dhow and abra boats are floating along the channel as they did many centuries ago. In the merchant harbor tired laborers are dragging heavy boxes from ships to the wharf.

Traditional clothes, shapeless sandals and the glare absorbing into new faces - that’s local toilers’ portrait.

New buildings, outpatient departments and schools are built here. There are new good roads and all possible blessings of civilization.

But history is seen through all this novelty. It is blowing wild, getting out from everywhere reminding about itself.

So you enter Dubai Gold Souk or Golden bazaar and walk slowly along modern glass shop-windows. Having turned a little you bump into very old oriental-style wooden doors leading in to the unknown. Cracked from dryness wood substance of the locked ancient doors, large iron barrier bar. For people of great invention it might be momentary but reflection. Different imagines of bazaars from the Arabian Nights are coming back.

There is a shoe window hereby- home-made turned-up toes slippers.

Thumb dsc 0406

Such shoes might have been worn by Little Mook, a character of another Eastern fairy tale.

Being on the Golden Souk you've got a question: is it profitable for jewelry shops to be located so near each other? What about competition? As appeared to be such crowd of jewelers is an ancient eastern tradition. Gold has always been a slice of the pie for robbers. To counter attacks jewelers tried to keep together making golden bazaars this way (souk is a market, a bazaar in Arabic). This tradition has been keeping to this day. A lot of modern jewelry shops are built along Al Khor Street in Deira.

On the right at the Golden bazaar entrance there is a boutique with golden “mails”. I placed such name because those huge gold jewelry put in the window by this boutique owners are hard to be called necklaces: either they are wedding presents (particularly those five kilos ones to be paid as a price for a bride) or show-goods to attract visitors' attention. Anyway this particular shop-window is one of the best to look at.

Thumb dsc 1112

Guides fancy showing it to tourists telling tall tales about local habits and traditions.

Old Gold Souk is just one street with jewelry boutiques selling gold items with precious stones. All the shops are opposite each other with a narrow public footpath between. Police cars with watchful police officers in them run over and over again.

Gold Souk is followed by a flea market. Sometimes a gold selling stall is slipping through between frocks and panties but because of this rigging neighborhood rise doubts about precious metal authenticity.

Thumb dsc 1117

Row of goods from India, China and Pakistan don’t cause any special sensation and look like an ordinary colored jumble market.You feel like leaving this dusky maze of colorful tilts and reach the main street as soon as possible.

But it was not to be. The flea market is followed by e-stores, china shops and home textile.

Dubai Spice Souk and Perfume Souk are quite near Gold Soak.

A little further there is a fish market worth coming at the crack of dawn to pick up fresh seafood.

Deira prices are much lower in comparison with Dubai malls. But it’s a little embarrassed to stroll the streets alone – there are only men around.

Thumb dsc 0357.

Deira can be very surprising a lot of times. Somewhere deep inside of these wind streets a cafe can be found looking like a cheap joint. You will hardly risk walking into right away. But as appeared to be the cooking here is amazing. Your memory will keep on recalling the taste and the flavor of the dinner of this hearty cuisine.

That’s a slice of good luck – there is a small mall nearby Gold Souk. Two-story building is occupied by women’s design clothes.

All kinds of abaya and jellabiya, Indian clothes, dinner clothes of European style, magnificent wedding dresses. To judge by beauty, variety and quality it is one of the best places in Dubai.

Some dresses are a perfect dream: stylish, complicated fitted, rich in embroidery and decorated with pearls and sparkles. Due to craftsmanship they are associated with elegant and sumptuous dresses of Lebanese fashion designer such as Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad though the price is much lower. A real masterpiece can be bought for one or two thousand dollars. Skillful tailors will stitch it up right away for it to be form-fitted.

Everything I have written is just a little tough to the huge canvas called Deira. To understand its size and appreciate it’s colour, a dhow-boat ticket is worth buying running along Dubai Creek. Slow sail sing will allow you to zoom the old town out.

Evening channel tour is enjoyable and cognitive either. There is silence. Only the play of the waves can be heard. My eye is catching the contours of people sitting at the tables along the embankment. Identical dhow-boats decorated with lampions are floating toward our boat again and again. Not so that you'd notice Abra–boats are floating like shadows. Old fort configuration is silhouetting against darkness as if it were a phantom from the past. Muezzin’s pleasant voice is breaking the silence calling Muslims for evening service. Things go on just the same as many centuries ago.

Thumb  dsc1687   copy

Enlarge map
    • Cropping me
      Author and photographerVictoria Lazareva
    All country stories
    You can press ESC in any window to close it.