Dubai mostly developed along the banks of the Creek, which is a busy trade area and focal point for the city. Today, the placid Creek remains a main centre of activity and the sights here highlight the contrasts between the old & the new, the traditional and the modern.
An interesting way to get acquainted with the city would be to cross the creek via abra or water taxi. The sights and sounds in Dubai are concentrated mainly in 3 areas – Deira, Bur Dubai, each on a different side of the Creek, and Jumeirah, the coastal area south of the city.
Stroll down the creek waterfront in Deira to experience the hustle and bustle of wooden dhows unloading their cargoes. This is a great visual treat and an excellent photo opportunity. Another popular spot in Deira is the Fish Market. Albeit a bit smelly, the market is worth a visit, even if you are interested only in taking snaps. The variety of fish on display is simply mind-boggling and you may come across some species that you have never even seen before.
Situated on the other bank of the creek, opposite Deira is Bur Dubai which is home to one of the oldest heritage sites in Dubai – Bastakiya. This intriguing neighbourhood dates back to the early 1900s when traders from Bastak in Southern Iran, lured by the tax concessions granted by the then ruler of Dubai, settled there. Amble down alleyways and try to imbibe the lost charm of a bygone age or visit the Majlis Gallery that hosts exhibitions by contemporary artists.
Children’s City, an educational project with a learning zone & amusements for kids is adjacent to the Creekside Park in Bur Dubai. A favourite haunt of visitors to Dubai is the Dubai Museum. Built in 1787 for sea defence and as the residence of the ruler of Dubai, Al Faheidi Fort was renovated in 1970 to house the museum. This could very well be described as a tribute to the sea and a treasure trove of archaeological findings. Tour guides are available and there is also a restaurant and a children’s playground.
Enroute to Creekside Park is the Dhow Building Yard. Although not an official tourism site, it gives a fascinating insight into the origins of the wooden dhows that are still widely used for trade throughout the region. Ideal for family trips, the Heritage & Diving Village in Bur Dubai offers a fascinating insight into the Bedouin way of life. The museum here is staffed by potters and weavers who display their craft.
Parallel to Bur Dubai and stretching southwards, Jumeirah is one of the posh locales in the city. Here, you can visit the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque and then proceed onto Jumeirah Beach Corniche, Dubai Zoo and Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif (about fifteen minutes by taxi). The roads at Jumeirah are lined exclusive malls & boutiques that cater to the elite.