A world of shopping

Dubai Travel Blog

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Gold Souk
I probably spent more time shopping today than I did in all of 2008. We are in Dubai, a pit-stop visit on our flight from Sydney to Brussels, and our final day before reaching our destination.

Dubai is surprisingly beautiful. On the drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Dubai stretches out as 40km of glass and steel along a narrow strip between the desert and the sea. It is a city unlike any I have seen before, with towering sky-rise after sky-rise for kilometer after kilometre. Unlike cities like New York, where the buildings block out the light, in Dubai they reflect and colour the light, as each towering building is only a few years old and is sheathed in blue, green, silver or gold glass.
Heritage House
The city is narrow, only a few blocks in depth, so even in a city of sky-scrappers the horizon can always be seen and the desert light filters through. Many of the buildings are still being constructed, waiting for their glass sheath, as Dubai is a work still in progress. It has grown from a city of 150,000 in the 70s to 1.5 million today, and with annual 7% population growth it will hit 2 or 3 million in the near future. The growth of the city is so fast that a third of all the cranes on the planet are in Dubai, to feed the rapid construction. 90% of this population is due to foreign immigration, with many single men coming to Dubai to find work. This influx of men massively distorts the gender balance of the city, with 75% of the population being male (and this skewing was even greater in public places).
Al-Ahmadiya School


While most of Dubai is new and sparkling, the biggest and the best, parts of old Dubai are still to be found. We stayed in Deira, the old town on the north-east bank of the Creek. Deira is renowned for its old markets, the Souqs. we spent a morning wandering through the Deira Covered Souq, the Perfume Souk, the Gold Souk (where we ate magnificent food in a tiny Indian cafe) and the Spice Souk. We visited Heritage House (built in 1890) and Al-Ahmadiya School (built in 1912), allowing us to see the beautiful architecture of the traditional Arabic building style, built from coral and gypsum around a central courtyard. We caught an Abra from Deira Old Souq Abra station, the rickety old wooden boats that are still used as public transport to cross over the creek from Deira to Bur Dubai, the old town on the south-west bank of the Creek.
Spice Souk
Such a striking contrast to be bobbing on the river in traditional boats used for hundreds of years, but being surrounded by towering glass and steel, a monument to modernity.

In Bur Dubai we walked through the Bur Dubai Souk, past the Grand Mosque, and visited Dubai Museum, where once again the city showed its love of using individually moulded manniquins to display its history in a surprising underground exhibit. In the Bastakia quarter beautiful old houses had been restored and the grey cooling towers made a beautiful contrast to the blue sky.

For every passenger taking a rickety boat across the creek, many more waited for buses in air-conditioned hermetically sealed bus shelters or sped along the main highway at breakneck speeds, so in the afternoon we visited modern Dubai.
Spice Souk
We saw the famed Burj al Arab, the seven star hotel built on its own artificial island, rising out of the sea just beyond Madinat Jumeirah, a luxury resort and shopping mall built like a Disneyland version of arabic souks. Just in case the monstrous mall was missing some luxary we caught a taxi to the Mall of the Emerites - still the largest shopping mall in the world while Dubai Mall is still being built under Burj Dubai (which will also become the tallest building in the world), although it could soon fall to third place as the Mall of Arabia (also being built in Dubai) would outstrip both the Mall of the Emerites and Dubai Mall.
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Gold Souk
Gold Souk
Heritage House
Heritage House
Al-Ahmadiya School
Al-Ahmadiya School
Spice Souk
Spice Souk
Spice Souk
Spice Souk
Spice Souk
Spice Souk
Crossing the Creek in an Abra
Crossing the Creek in an Abra
Crossing the Creek in an Abra
Crossing the Creek in an Abra
Crossing the Creek in an Abra
Crossing the Creek in an Abra
Bur Duai Souq
Bur Duai Souq
Bur Duai Souq
Bur Duai Souq
Air-conditioned bus shelter
Air-conditioned bus shelter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Bastakia Quarter
Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah
Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab
Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah
Mall of the Emerites
Mall of the Emerites
Dubai Hotels & Accommodations review
Good enough for a cheap stay
This is a two star hotel and doesn't deserve more. It is rather old and run down, especially the showers. On the other hand, I would recommend it to a… read entire review
Dubai Sights & Attractions review
Interesing exhibit near Heritage House
Al-Ahmadiya School is right next to Heritage House in Deira, and like Heritage House it is a free museum made from a restored building. The school was… read entire review
Dubai Sights & Attractions review
An outstanding taste of traditional Dubai
This free museum in Deira is a perfect way to see traditional Dubai. It is a restored merchant's house from 1890, originally built by Mattar bin Saeed… read entire review
Dubai Sights & Attractions review
A surprise around every corner in this museum
I really enjoyed this museum, hidden beneath Al Fahidi Fort in Bur Dubai. The museum is in the old quarter and upon entering (AED 3/adult) I had expec… read entire review
Dubai
photo by: vances