Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Afternoon in the Souks in Old Town Dubai

When you go to Dubai there are two very different sides - the new and the old.  When a city, like Dubai, is going for the biggest and newest of everything sometimes the original city can get a bit lost in the shadows, especially the big one cast by the Burj Kalifa!  After we landed and got settled in our hotel, we jumped in a cab and headed to the Dubai Creek, and shopped at the Souks (where the gold, textile and spices are).

At the Dubai Creek
Based on the layout of the area, we first checked out the gold souk.  With tax free shopping and people ready to bargin there are deals to be had.  I did not indulge, though, since the gold was just a bit too much, and with this being my first time bargaining I did not bring the prices down (at all!).  It definitely was fun to look at all the inventory, that is for sure.  Some of the jewelry was so beautifully intricate.

Around the Gold Souk
World's Biggest Ring!
From the Gold Souk, we got a bit lost but managed (after a few wrong turns) to find ourselves at the spice souk.  Many of the shops were closed because there was a call to prayer, but there was still plenty to see and enjoy.

Entrance to the spice souk
The spices were amazing...
I managed to get a little carried away taking photos!
The colors were incredible!

We walked out with a lovely bit of saffron, a couple of vanilla beans, a mountain of hot paprika, and a big bag of lavender, all for around $20 USD.  The deals were amazing - if our suitcases allowed I would have gone crazy!

Winding Souk Lanes
Our next stop was the textile souk, but we quickly realized it was on the other side of the creek.  Lucky for us, there were plenty of great views off of the handy little boats that take you across the water for about 10 cents a person!

Views from the Creek
Nick HATES birds and this was right next to where we docked ;)

I'm on a boat!
Textile side of the Creek
Inside the textile Souk - a lot busier!
By this point we were getting hungry, and luckily we passed right by some street food.  I won't lie, I was a bit nervous because I had NO idea what it was.  I asked if there was any meat, and they said no, so we figured we were somewhat safe and dove right in!

Fried potato, fried leeks
More fired vegetarian goodness
Inside the fried potato amazingness
This food was fried but not heavy, and with delicious flavors inside.  This definitely hit the spot after a long afternoon of walking and shopping

Walking around and shopping at the souks can be difficult because all the shop owners are constantly soliciting customers - it was definitely a bit distracting.  In the textile souk, even with everyone walking around we stuck out (I think it was my giant camera!).  I happened to see a pillow cover with a detailed elephant design and I thought a bigger one framed would be fun.  We ducked into the shop pictured below and the guy was super helpful.  Once he had us in there, I think he showed us his entire inventory!  We ended up walking out with a fun tapestry (now framed and hanging in my mom's basement because we have no room in our current place) as well as a pashmina.  We did bargin a bit, but did not bring down the price too much.  I wanted my elephant, and not being able to walk away is a killer to any bargin.

Textile Shop
Dubai Creek Area At Night
In and around the Dubai Creek you really were able to get a feeling for what Old Dubai was.  I love that they are able to preserve this heritage with the ever-expanding areas a short drive to the north.

Are you a good negotiator?  Whats the best deal you have ever struck?


  1. Those containers of spices are gorgeous!!!

  2. Those spices look amazing! I don't know if I could have used as much restraint as you did!

  3. I love the spices in the souks! So beautiful!

  4. Those are BEAUTIFUL!! I love all the pictures you took. Hmmm I negotiate a lot for my job, but not too much when I'm shopping - I should though!

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  6. Did Nick go to GW? I'm in Dubai and happened upon this amazing blog.

    1. He did! Small world...said you did CI together!


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