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Deira Creek & Souks

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Monday, 5 April 2010 | Views [651]

The souks in Deira are pegged akin to traditional markets in Thailand. Touted as a popular tourist destination and a must-see for all travellers to Dubai, Andrew and I decided we'd make a trip of the adventure and take the day exploring the area. We parked the car at our nearby train station, jumped aboard, and made our way to what we felt was the nearest station to the souks. In our usual wanderer style, we simply wandered out of the station in any direction we felt was necessary to get closer to the souks. Turns out we were actually wandering in the complete opposite direction to what we were supposed to be, but after a delightful meal of old-school kebabs in a local Iraqi restaurant we succumbed to the temptation of a cab who would know where on Earth we were supposed to be going.

A mere 15 dirhams (AU$4.00) got us to our destination and we quickly recognised the barrage of white-skinned tourists heading towards the Gold Souk - the place to BE if one needs gold adornment. As we walked in, our senses were overwhelmed by something I was not expecting. Hawkers trying to sell off knock-off handbags, iPods and Blackberries, "copy-watches" and every other thing the Indians could try to get into the country and sell on the grey market. Others were trying to sell bottles of water and juices by walking around with a tray filled with a few cans and bottles, and generally annoying anyone who walked along that looked like a tourist. Unfortunately, with our particular hue of skin and a camera hanging across my chest, we were included in that harassment.

With no more than a few glances through the windows to the excessive quantities of gold and diamonds dripping from the shelves, we made our way to the other end of the gold souk in search of something more, hoping at least for someone with a thread of tradition running through their store. A little more wandering and a delightful abra trip across the clear and very pretty creek landed us in front of the "Old Souk" which had nothing more than people touting hundreds of "real" pashmina wraps for 10 dirhams (US$2.70) and who knows what else. It was depressing to know that in the heart of 'Old Dubai' the only piece of culture we could find was the fact that it had all been left behind. In its race to become the cosmopolitan city, developers left 'Old Dubai' behind to begin building the 'New Dubai' further along the coast. All that was left behind were labourers, electronic shops with faded signs, hakwers, and a barrage of men who had nothing to do but stare at white women whenever they walked by. It sounds dismal, but it was my least favourite experience since arriving here, and a place where I would definitely not make my way alone. There's culture and charm to be found in a community and economy that has been left behind a little and still keeps turning, just like we found in Old Bangkok. But Old Dubai, it's been left alone completely to sink or swim, and it's only bobbing with it's head barely above the water.

Well, that's just my experience anyway. k.


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