Dubai is much more than skyscrapers and indoor ski slopes, and whenever I need a reality check, I go and visit Bur Dubai or Deira, located on either side of Dubai Creek. Today I took the metro to Bur Juman on the Bur Dubai side, from where there is only a short walk to Bastakiya, which is one of the oldest areas of Dubai with buildings dating back to the late 1800s.
Bastakiya has small narrow streets and houses with wind towers, which in ancient times were used as a primitive form of air conditioning, and unlike many other historic districts elsewhere in the world, there are surprisingly few souvenir shops and other distractions. Instead, there is a nice collection of galleries and art shops and even a restaurant selling camel burgers.
From Bastakiya, it’s only a short walk to the textile souk where you can buy all kinds of fabric as well as souvenirs and embroidered slippers. I must admit that I’m not a major fan of Dubai’s souks, as traders can be extremely insisting, and if you show just a little interest in their goods, it can be very hard to get away without buying anything. As a tourist attraction I guess it’s entertaining, but if I’m out shopping, I prefer being able to walk around and compare the goods and offerings in peace and quiet.
Near the mouth of Dubai Creek, there’s an area with museums, restaurants and cafes where you can sit outside next to the water. In the evening, there’s an enchanting smell of shishas and grilled meat, and even though it’s a bit touristy, it’s definitely one of my favorite places along the creek.