Appropriately housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings, this museum provides a well-laid-out and comprehensive history of Dubai. Learn exactly how and why, in just a third of a century, this extraordinary destination has risen from being a simple desert settlement to one of the most progressive and modern cities in the Middle East.
Many exhibits take the form of lifelike dioramas, while a separate archaeological exhibition covers the ancient history of the region, with a display of exhibits discovered in several excavated tombs. 2 Noisy, chaotic and colourful, Dubai’s souqs are an enticing reminder that you are, indeed, in a foreign country – something you might forget when you’re poolside at your five-star hotel. The small Spice Souq is a heady introduction to Middle Eastern exotic herbs and spices, while Bur Dubai’s Textile Souq (p66) is another assault on the senses with its vividly patterned fabrics.
Don’t miss nearby Hindi Lane (p65), a tiny alleyway flanked by stalls selling brilliantly coloured religious decorations, or the Deira Gold Souq, which has a dazzling display of jewellery at remarkably low prices. Deira Gold Souq 3 Wandering around the maze of narrow lanes in the Bastakia Quarter provides a tangible sense of historic Arabian architecture and culture.
The streets are flanked by lowlying traditional buildings, complete with wind towers, arabesque windows and decorative gypsum screens. Punctuated by the occasional splash of dazzling bougainvillea, this evocative area is home to a couple of the city’s most characterful guesthouses, as well as cafes, galleries and museums. If you want to learn more about local history, join one of the informative organised walking tours. 4 Dubai’s otherworldly megaprojects got you craving a dose of reality? Walk alongside the Creek and it’s easy to imagine life in Dubai half a century ago.
The wooden dhows, bustling souqs, stately wind towers and graceful mosques have barely changed over the decades. Wander the streets surrounding the Creek in Bur Dubai and Deira to experience a vibrant multicultural region that has become home to hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe. The most evocative route to cross the Creek is by hopping on one of the traditional abras (water taxis)