I recently had the chance to discover the hidden historic gems of Dubai, beyond its swanky skyscrapers and glitzy malls, on a walking tour with renowned guide Nada Badran as we navigated across the city’s Deira and Bur Dubai districts. Here are the main attractions we stopped by:
Dubai Women’s Museum: We started off our tour by visiting the Dubai Women’s Museum – an ode to the legacy of women in the country – nestled in a conspicuous corner of Gold Souk. The museum not only gave you an insight into the daily lives of Emirati women with several antiquities on display but also their progress in modern society – my favourite bit were all the artworks by Emirati women.
Dubai Gold Souk: The second stop on our tour, the Dubai Gold Souk (traditional Arabic market) is still the most cheapest and eclectic place to buy gold in Dubai and our tour guide Nada gave us a historical perspective on the city’s rise as a gold trading hub.
Spice Souk: A kaleidoscope of smells, sights and colors, the narrow alleys of the Spice Souk were our third stop on the tour, and, possibly, my favorite souk in all of Dubai as it really transports you to the ancient days of Dubai.
Abra Ride Across the Creek: Hopping on an abra (traditional wooden boat) and heading to the other side of the Dubai Creek, the ancient lifeblood of the city, while seeing the sun set against the beige buildings is something every Dubai visitor needs to experience. It was interesting to discover from Nada that the Dubai Creek was dug up using loans from wealthy merchants and the British government!
Textile Souk: Based in the Bur Dubai district, the final souk stop on our tour was host to every imaginable fabric, the shopping festival-themed lights really helped bring the Arabian decor of the souk to life.
Hindu Temple Lane: Situated at the end of the Textile Souk, the narrow Hindu Temple Lane leads to the only Hindu Temple in the UAE and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the alleys of India – it’s a great example of the country’s tolerance for different religions and and how many expatriates have made it a great home away from home.
Dubai Museum: Our final stop on the tour was a great conclusion to all the sights and sounds of the old city, the Dubai Museum was a great visual and aural experience as we were guided through the Bedouin (Arabian nomad) way of life, the city’s historic souks and tradition of pearl-diving – my favourite part were the video displays that gave insight into the lives of the shopkeepers at the souks.
Verdict: The tour, in itself, was an eye-opening experience, even for someone who’s lived in the city for the past 10 years and our guide Nada was an infectious bundle of energy who was brimming with knowledge about the city – the tour is a must-visit for anyone unacquainted with the older parts of Dubai or just dropping by the city!
^Visit wanderwithnada.com for more details – a single public tour costs a 100 USD (or 365 AED) per person