Splendid ways to spend a day in old Dubai

From food and shopping to history and culture, there's a lot you can explore in a day in the old part of the city

By Noopur Bangar

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Published: Mon 19 Feb 2024, 7:12 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Feb 2024, 7:17 PM

Abra ride across the Creek

These 20-person wooden boats have served as water taxis for centuries, offering a 5-to-8-minute ride for just a single dirham or opt for an air-conditioned ride for Dh 2. Enjoy a glimpse of Dubai's historical charm from Deira to Bur Dubai while avoiding traffic, especially during sunset. Abra stations can be found at Al Seef and Deira.

Discover your favourite cup of Karak chai

Karak remains a popular choice in the city, with numerous cafes and dedicated spots offering this strong, richly flavoured chai with caramel hues. These establishments, such as Cha Cha Chai and Filli, are budget-friendly and can be found across old Dubai in areas like Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai, Al Karama, and Al Jafiliya.

Explore the vibrant souks

Immerse yourself in a shopping adventure where you can find almost anything imaginable, from pashminas and gold jewellery to sandals, perfumes, and spices. Be prepared to bargain, as shopkeepers are known for being tough negotiators. Access the markets by taking an Abra ride, taxi, or the metro, with the closest stations being Al Fahidi, Al Ras, and Al Ghubaiba. Location: Dubai Spice Souk, Deira, Al Ras, Dubai. Open from Monday to Friday 7.30 am to 9.55pm, Saturday and Sunday 7.30pm to 11pm. For more information, call: 050 222 3627.

Indulge in shawarma at Al Malla

Known for its renowned shawarmas, Al Mallah offers this delicious combination of fluffy bread, garlic sauce, and juicy meat. With multiple locations across the city, prices start from Dh 10.

Visit the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre

Dedicated to promoting Emirati culture, customs, traditions, and religious awareness, this non-profit organization is housed in a restored wind tower house in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. Activities include traditional cultural meals and guided walking tours, so it's advisable to book in advance. Located at Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre, Al Mussallah Rd, Al Fahidi, Dubai, it is open Monday to Thursday and Saturday 8am to 8pm, Friday and Sunday 8am to 12pm. For more information, call: 04 353 6666.

Stroll around Al Seef

Nestled along Dubai Creek, Al Seef seamlessly blends modern and traditional design, showcasing the city's proud heritage. It offers a pedestrianized walkway with shops, cafes, and restaurants. Guests can enjoy the picturesque interiors and exterior terrace of popular spots, watch Abras cross the Creek, and explore souk-like shops.

Explore the Al Fahidi historical district

Formerly known as Bastakiya, this district is one of Dubai's oldest neighbourhoods. Spend time wandering through maze-like alleyways, admiring Islamic architecture, street art, and exploring cafes, museums, and galleries. Don't miss attractions like the Coffee, Coin, or Dubai Museums; showcasing the city's heritage.

Dine like a local to conclude your day

Bayt Al Wakeel, one of Dubai's oldest buildings on the Creek, specializes in camel meat and authentic Emirati cuisine. Located at Al Souk Al Kabeer, On the Creek, Near Bank of Baroda Abra Station, Bur Dubai. For reservations, call 04 353 0530.

For a Michelin-listed option in Bur Dubai or Deira, try Khayma Heritage Restaurant, known for its Emirati dishes made with farm-fresh ingredients. Head to Historical Neighbourhood - 79 Al Mussallah Rd - Al Fahidi – Dubai. For more information, call: 055 180 2080.


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