Deira – The Heritage, The Creek, The Gold
Deira, one of the older sections of Dubai, is north of the Dubai Creek and is close to Sharjah’s border. This traditional commercial centre of Dubai was the original hub of the city, with dhows acting as traditional modes of transport. Deira itself is split in two, with older souks near the waterfront, and more modern aspects, like the Dubai International Airport, covering a major part of the area into the inland creek. Deira is a fascinating section of Dubai as it also has a number of smaller sections that are seemingly-untouched by Dubai’s modern style, making it a lovely place to visit to catch some of Dubai’s more traditional treasures.
Grand Souk Bazaar
The Grand Souk in Deira was first established in 1850, and Deira’s traditional souk is comprised of a range of markets that have been restored to maintain their original architecture, maintaining its traditional market roots. The Grand Souk is home to a number of stalls that sell a variety of goods, including toys, household items, textiles, and gifts and souvenirs that are fashioned with an Arabian aesthetic. The Souk first emerged thanks to its proximity to the harbour, giving merchants the chance to sell and receive goods from ships that arrived from Africa and south-east Asia, and the market is now seen as a renovated space for tourists and residents alike to hone their bargaining skills.
Old Heritage House
The Heritage House, located in Al Ras in Deira, was first established by Mr. Matar Saeed Bin Mazina in 1890, in order to provide a description of life and local traditional housing at that time, including the specific values and approaches that locals used to tackle the challenges of everyday life, particularly ones associated with the desert environment. The house consist of two floors, and is built of coral, stone, plaster, teakwood, and fronds and trunks of palm trees. The Heritage House is a fascinating visit as visitors will get the unique opportunity to discover typical household tools, utensils, furniture, clothes, toys, jewellery, and other items that were made locally, or imported from places like India and the east coast of Africa, brought by merchants who would arrive at the Creek for trade. The Heritage House is also a fascinating example of traditional architecture, and the use of courtyards and open spaces to satisfy living needs, making the house private while also being open and accessible to the world, achieving comfort and consistency with social and religious traditions.
Deira City Centre
Deira City Centre is the popular mall in Deira, and offers a wide selection of choices for shopping, dining, and entertainment in the area. The mall first opened its doors to the public in 1995, and is one of the oldest shopping centres in the city. This flagship mall in Dubai is a fun space to visit for those looking for convenience and efficiency, and with a metro station right outside its entrance, Deira City Centre is easier to reach than ever. The shopping centre is the perfect place to visit for those looking to get a dose of Dubai’s modernity and ultra-convenience; the balance between history and modernity is perfectly captured in Deira, where traditional souks and heritage houses are alongside modern shopping malls and restaurants. Visitors and residents alike can enjoy a cool afternoon away from the summer heat inside this shopping centre, while still having the choice to spend warm evenings walking along the Creek or visiting the many souks in Deira.
Deira’s Gold Souk is one of the best and most popular souks in Dubai, and consists of covered walkways that are lined with hundreds of jewellery stores, selling pieces made with gold, silver, and precious stones. This souk is a few hundred yards from the Al Ras metro station, making it easy to access via public transport. The Gold Souk is a must-visit on any agenda, as it is a perfect way to experience shopping in a more traditional level, and because of haggling, making it possible to get some stunning jewellery at reduced costs, if you’re experienced at bargaining.
One way of going around the Creek and taking in the city’s skyline is by using water taxis, or ‘abras’. The boats can hold approximately 20 people and are a cheap and easy mode of transport to travel between Deira and Bur Dubai – there are four abra stations, two in Deira, and two in Bur Dubai, and the abras are functioning between 5 am and midnight. The fare for these boats are just 1 dirham, making it a cheap, accessible method to travel across the Creek. These traditional boat rides across the Creek are worth the trip, especially when the sun sets, as you can see the city’s skyline light up and come to life after twilight. Also note, the Abra is a provided by rta.ae as a part of the public transport network
Al Ras Metro Station
The Al Ras Metro station is one of the metro stations in Deira, on Baniyas Road, and is a part of the Al Ras neighbourhood in Deira. This station is popular as it is close to the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk, two large markets that are popular for residents and tourist alike, for necessary herbs and spices, and stunning jewellery. The station is also close to the Heritage and Diving Village, consisting of museums where visitors can explore Dubai’s past and its traditions of pearl diving, walking through history before the oil-boom that changed the nation. Another fascinating historic site near the station is the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, the old home of the ruler of Dubai between 1912 and 1958. There are a few hotels near the station as well, making it a convenient station to explore the rest of Dubai as well, with the Metro connecting you to all major hotspots throughout the city.
The Dubai Creek is a saltwater creek in Dubai, and extends across the Persian Gulf as it is now part of the new Dubai canal. The creek is chock-full of interesting activities to take part in, and is a great place to take a walk along the water, particularly during colder wintry nights. The creek has historical reference in the UAE, functioning as the start and end point for expeditions, and a place for merchants to come and share their wares, and was a starting point for pearl divers. Fishing, too, was a major addition to the economy thanks to the creek’s shallow and warm waters, which housed a lot of marine life. Near the Creek likes the Heritage Village and the Dubai Museum, for guests interested in learning more about the country’s history. Those who wish to enjoy a ride on the Creek can book a table aboard a dinner cruise, enjoying a scrumptious meal while floating down the Creek and taking in the city’s sights. For those who simply want to walk along the Creek, the dhow wharfage is the best place to take a stroll and take a look at the multiple dhows and boats that are parked along the harbour.
Al Bait al Qadeem
Deira is also home to a number of authentic Emirati eateries, including the popular restaurant, ‘Bait Al Qadeem’, which is housed in a building constructed in 1909, and located in the historic Al Ras area in Dubai. The ambience of the restaurant is one of authenticity, with history and tradition served to the people with Emirati food and drink. The menu includes a number of Arabic dishes, in addition to a variety of Persian and Indian cuisines as well, harking to the multi-ethnic nature of the area thanks to its proximity to the harbour; the restaurant reflects the myriad communities that have inhabited the country throughout history.
Historically speaking, Deira is one of the oldest established sections in Dubai, and functioned as a commercial centre during the city’s early years. As the city grew and spread outward, Deira continued to maintain its importance as a culturally significant and relevant piece of Dubai’s history, while still being a popular tourist point thanks to its proximity to the Creek. As the years have passed, Deira’s development has matched those of other sections in the city, with a number of metro stations, shopping centres, and modern buildings springing up across the area. Deira has evolved into a local hub, complete with retail outlets and traditional markets, perfectly balancing Dubai’s ultra-modernity with its own history. Thanks to the maintenance of traditional neighbourhoods, Deira is still seen as a culturally relevant landmark in the city, and its history has resulted in many classic restaurants, cafes, and buildings being situated in Deira. Many residents and citizens continue to visit Deira (despite the rush and traffic) to visit favored eateries that have been in business since the formation of the UAE, and will continue to function for many years more. Deira, despite not being as modern in its aesthetic as the newer sections of Dubai, is definitely worth the visit.
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