Tourists just landing in the United Arab Emirates the traditional Middle East, full of exoticism and intrigue, couldn’t be further away from the high rise buildings and modernity of cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. However, if you’re one of the many people attracted to the cheap flights to Dubai that are on offer through the likes of DialAFlight, you might be interested to know that with a little digging, the traditional Middle East is still very much alive and cooking.
Delve under the layers of opulence a little bit and Dubai isn’t actually the uber-expensive destination that it seems to be – unless you want it to be that is. In the heart of the city, along the old creek, life continues much as it has done for the last thousand years, albeit with the impressive backdrop of the city.
Starting on the west bank of the creek is the textile souk, filled with every type of garment you could ever imagine. Keep your wits about you, however, because one particularly popular tactic is to through garments on unsuspecting shoppers and then start haggling. Still, if you’re looking to pick up a pair of shoes with curly toes, you’re in the right place.
A short hop over the river on an abra (that’s a water taxi to everyone else) and you’ll find yourself in the spice souk. The abras are everywhere, and they hardly cost anything, they’re also a great way to get around, and will deposit you more or less anywhere along the creek.
The spice souk has a unique fragrance that you’ll simply never forget. Be prepared to bargain hard, and don’t be afraid to ask to sample the wares a little bit, most vendors will let you have a little taste of some of their spices. A particular favourite is the Ras El Hanout combination which is a mix of several different spices and guaranteed to add an extra tang to just about any dish.
Once you’ve had enough of the souks, the next place to go is the old-town. The old-town is still cooled by air towers, that carry the wind down from the rooftops into the city streets below, they’re a masterful example of ancient architecture and remain as effective as ever. The old-town is the perfect place to stop for a taste of local cuisine, and for some good old-fashioned sightseeing. In fact, you’ll probably need more than an afternoon to get your fill of the narrow streets and beautiful ancient buildings.
As one of the premier cities in the world, Dubai can be a very expensive place to visit, and it’s built a reputation for modernity and opulence, but underneath the flashy exterior lies a rich labyrinth of history and tradition that can be enjoyed very inexpensively and will leave you with memories that you’ll keep forever.