What to Do in Old Dubai – From Creek, Souks to Street Food

Dubai’s attractiveness stems from its lavish lifestyle and plethora of modern iconic architectural marvels. What’s noteworthy is that this global city was not noticeable to discerning travellers until the advent of the 1900s. Do you ever wonder what Dubai looked and felt like before it was swathed in cutting-edge ground-breaking infrastructure, high-rise skyscrapers, and air-conditioned malls? Next to the canopy of dazzling skyscrapers is a tranquil meandering Dubai Creek, which is said to be the reason the original Bedouin settlers picked Dubai as their home. On the banks of Dubai Creek, you can see what life was like in Dubai during its early days.

The Dubai Creek meanders through the north of the emirate and has played an essential part in Dubai’s growth. It divides the northern area of Dubai into Bur Dubai and Deira. Both of these locations are dotted with relics of an era when Dubai was known as a barren desert with fishing and trading communities along the creek’s shore. When visiting Dubai today, the sophistication can be overpowering at times, and the Old Dubai district is the best place to get away from it. This region is a must-see on a Dubai vacation, and here’s what it has in store for you.

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Al Fahidi

When you visit Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood set along Old Dubai Creek shores, you feel that time has stood still and many things work just as they did in the old times of Dubai. The monochromatic alleys and houses decked with date palms, shrubs, and spacious courtyards provide a contrasting perspective of Dubai as we know it. This neighbourhood is humble and devoid of glitz, unlike modern Dubai, yet when it comes to creativity, the early settlers were rather inventive.

The beige sand-toned houses are fitted with wind towers to facilitate natural cooling and ventilation in the sweltering desert heat when air conditioners had not yet been invented. The Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is one of the first things to do in Old Dubai when you are in the Dubai Creek area of the emirate. Make the most of it while you visit and even enjoy Arabian dates, freshly brewed coffee and many other Arabian treats at quaint cafes furnished in traditional decor nestled in the neighbourhood.

Al Fahidi Fort

Al Fahidi Fort

The attraction is the oldest standing structure in Dubai built way back in 1787. Today, it is converted into a museum known as Al Fahidi museum which showcases life as it was before Dubai’s modern boom. Located within the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Al Fahidi Fort was first named Dubai museum then later called Al Fahidi museum. Inside this fort, you get to view the cannons, dhow boats, and galleries teeming with presentations, photographs, dioramas and relics from the bygone era of Dubai. The oldest surviving fort in the emirate is the perfect spot to record and preserve the journey through time of Dubai’s emergence in the world.

Dubai Souks

Dubai Spicy Souks

Another spot that has remained untouched by Dubai’s makeover as a contemporary city is the Old Dubai Souks. Scattered along Bur Dubai and Deira, these traditional bazaars have braved the change of time and still exude the charms and methods of the olden marketplace. The Gold Souk – an alley lined with shops showcasing countless gold and semi-stone jewellery is a must-visit. You’d never seen so much sparkling gold in one place before. Apart from Gold Souk, there is Spice Souk, Textile Souk, and Perfume Souk to check out authentic merchandise at a bargain. If you enjoy street shopping and are good at negotiating prices, the Dubai Souks are the place to go.

Dubai creek cruise

Dubai Creek Cruise

Don’t pass up the chance to go boating on Dubai Creek. The sights you can see from Dubai Creek are breathtaking – a rustic foreground of quaint houses and alleys buzzing with people against a looming backdrop of colossal dazzling modern towers of Dubai. A simple abra ride on the creek that transports you from one shore to the other is sufficient to experience this sight, but if you want to go a step beyond, take a Dhow cruise Dubai Creek tour to enjoy a delightful time onboard a traditional wooden boat while taking in the splendour of rustic Old Dubai shores. A dinner cruise is an added bonus for viewing the shores in dazzling illuminations and enjoying delectable traditional foods amid Arabian music and folklore.

Dubai Frame

The Dubai Frame

You are never far away from an extravagant contemporary sight in Dubai, even when you are in Old Dubai. Though not located exactly near Dubai Creek, the attraction requires a special mention as apart from being the biggest frame ever made in the world, Dubai Frame is also the place where you could understand everything about Dubai’s past, view the present and get a glimpse of the emirate’s future. From its observatory deck, you can take in dramatic panoramas of old Dubai on one side and the new, modern Dubai on the other. The contrasting view is awe-inspiring to witness and makes us realize how far Dubai has come from a simple fishing and trading settlement. Add this experience to your Old Dubai excursion to get a complete, invigorating viewpoint of Dubai.

Old Dubai is must visit for any Dubai visitor to get a complete picture of this dynamic emirate. It sheds light on what Dubai was like before it set out to become the most progressive city in the world. Furthermore, most sights in Old Dubai are free to visit, so spending a day here would not be taxing on the wallet, making it a great destination for budget-conscious visitors to include in their Dubai itinerary. It is undoubtedly worth visiting while in Dubai.

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