I made a short trip to Dubai, March 2014, with two of my closest friends. It was the first of a few things: my first visit to Dubai, my first trip into the UAE, and the first time the three of us were going travelling together.
Dubai is known for many things; from opulence (think Burj Khalifa and the massive Dubai Mall), to the beauty of the Palm Islands. Being in Dubai, you could feel the city’s pulse – skyscrapers towering on either side, a bustling CBD, and on the other hand, there is a rich culture, amazing architecture, people who have come from all over the world to both work and play, as well as delicious local cuisine.
We made a visit to the Souks which are located near the mouth of the Dubai Creek. These marketplaces are just seated right next to each other, so it’s easy to walk from one to another without actually knowing exactly where one ends and the other begins. We found ourselves walking past shopfronts laden with gold jewellery (including a gigantic gold ring possibly 20cm across, which was apparently featured in the Guinness Book of World Records), looking at handcrafted sandals in a little lane slightly off the main street the next, and then strolling along an entire street of spice shops selling sacks of spices of every variety, finding ourselves being draped over with scarves by shopkeepers trying to sell their wares every few steps or so. I stopped by a spice shop a while, and the shopkeeper was friendly enough to entertain my questions about the wide variety of spices, including Myrrh which is common to the Arabic region but a rarer sight everywhere else.
The Dubai Creek is lined with little boats that sail across for just 1 Dirham, and it was such an authentic experience riding amongst the locals, I’ll be sure to do it again when I next get the chance. The boatmen would wave people on as they readied to sail across, and everyone would just head down from the docks, hand them a Dirham when boarding and find a comfortable spot before the boat filled up. We took a quick polaroid and my friend penned in a note to capture the moment.
We also spent half a day out in the dunes – pretty touristy stuff, but we enjoyed ourselves plenty. Dune bashing was awesome fun, and we were squealing in the backseat as the driver took us up the dunes and crashing down on the other side again and again, making sharp bends as we went over the top of the golden waves which stretched out as far as the eye could see. We spent the evening dining under the stars in the dessert, watching traditional performances and checking out the different activities from henna to traditional apparel.