Deira is one of the original areas of Dubai. It developed around the banks of the Creek. Historically it has been the commercial center of Dubai, although the rise of other areas has been taking away its position. However, it has also grown thanks to the economic development of the city and today is home to most of the working population, especially immigrants from India and Pakistan.
Its streets are somewhat chaotic and dusty, but certainly this neighborhood has a unique charisma. Around its souks gather locals and tourists from many countries, making it the most multicultural area of the city. Deira is one of the essential neighborhoods to visit. Therefore, I indicate a list of everything you can see.
1. Get the best snapshots in Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek is a natural creek that divides the city and separates the two most historic districts of the city, Deira and Bur Dubai. Around its 10 kilometers of extension the city originated and established itself as a very important commercial point.
At the beginning of the 20th century, numerous ships arrived from Africa and India, carrying in their holds spices, jewelry and all kinds of goods that are still sold today in the souks of Deira, and in the middle of the last century, the estuary underwent a major transformation. It was drained and new docks were built to expand maritime traffic.
Today, the banks of the estuary are one of the best areas for a leisurely stroll. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy this area is to travel the waters aboard the Abras, traditional wooden boats that take passengers from one shore to another. Currently, there are about 150 in the entire estuary.
There is the possibility of renting an Abra to move around Dubai Creek and usually cost around 30 € per hour. I recommend that if you choose this option you do it at sunset. Some of the Abras also offer dinner on board. In addition, you can book a traditional sailboat cruise, a dinner cruise in Dubai or a mega yacht dinner cruise in Dubai.
Crossing the Dubai Creek
There are two main lines crossing the Creek from Deira to Bur Dubai and vice versa:
- Deira Old Souq Station (Deira) - Bur Dubai Station (Bur Dubai).
- Al Sabkha Station (Deira) - Dubai Old Souq Station (Bur Dubai).
The line from Deira to Bur Dubai operates from 5:00 a.m. to 00:00 a.m., while the other operates 24 hours a day. The price is extremely economical, as each way costs 0.20 Euro per way and is paid to the boatman in cash.
2. Connect with local culture in the Gold Souk
Deira is one of the neighborhoods you have to visit if you travel to Dubai. The most representative are, without a doubt, its souks. In fact, one of the most popular activities is the tour of the souks of Dubai and among the several that houses, the so-called Gold Souk is the most visited and known. There you can find about 300 jewelry shops where gold is the main material, but also works the diamond and other precious stones.
In one of its stores is exposed Najmat Taiba, a gold and diamond ring that holds the Guinness record for being the heaviest ring in the world. The jewel that crowns this ring weighs 5.17 kg and the ring of the huge gold ring weighs almost 60 kg. If you want to know this souk in depth, do not hesitate to book a tour of the souks of Dubai.
- How to get to the souk: It is located in the westernmost part of the neighborhood and is quite easy to reach. It is best to walk and take advantage of the walk to see the streets of Deira. It is very well signposted and easy to reach. If you go from the Abras del Creek station there are only a few hundred meters that you have to walk following the signs. Other options are to arrive by bus (lines 8, 10, X10, 91A and X23) or metro (Al Ras stop on the green line).
- Hours of the Souk: Open seven days a week except Friday mornings, since it is the day of rest in Islam. The stores are open from 9 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm. Heat is not a problem, since it is roofed. However, it is difficult not to coincide with a large mass of people. If you have a choice, I recommend going on Wednesdays or Thursdays, as it is usually a little less crowded.
Tips for shoppers
The Zoco del Oro is the ideal place for jewelry lovers or for those who want to make a gift of those who do not forget. For all of them I share a series of tips:
- It is highly regulated and in it you will find screens that inform you of the price of gold per gram according to their carats. Pay attention and write down the data in case a trader asks for an exorbitant amount.
- As it is a highly regulated market, it is difficult to be cheated inside the stores. But the price of the jewelry also depends on the goldsmith work they have done on them and that is where they will try to get extra money. Bargaining is mandatory and you should never trust the first price that the seller gives you. If you are skilled in this art, you will get quite substantial discounts.
- Don't shop at the first store you see. You have an infinite number of options and if you take the time to study them, you are sure to find what you are looking for at a better price.
- In the stores it is almost impossible to be sold fakes, but this is not the case outside them. Between stores you are likely to be approached by street vendors whose goods are most likely counterfeit.
- You can pay by cash or credit card, but if you pay by cash the shopkeepers will be more likely to give you a discount.
3. Discover the Spice Souk
Very close to the Gold Souk, practically adjacent, we find the "Souk". This is the name given to the spice souks in Dubai. If the gold souk enters by sight, this one will enter by smell and taste.
As we approach their stores and invades you an aroma that invites us to enter the stores. In them we will find a myriad of Middle Eastern spices that are worth discovering and tasting. The best local chefs come here and, in addition to spices, they sell rice, nuts and the like that you can taste before buying.
- How to get there: Only 200 meters separate it from the gold souk, so the directions are almost the same. The nearest metro stop is still the Al Ras and the buses are the same lines that I told you before to get to the souk of gold. Note that, once there, you can book a tour of the souks of Dubai to get to know this and other souks in depth.
- Opening hours: The spice stores have the same opening hours as the gold souk stores. From 9 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm. They are also closed on Friday mornings for the same reason. The spice souk is usually not as crowded as the gold souk, but it is also advisable to go on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
4. Buy the best gifts in the perfume souk
Also very close to the souks of gold and spices, is the Souk of scents par excellence. It is even said that you can get there by smell alone. But keep in mind that you can also book the tour of the souks of Dubai that we have discussed.
The perfumes are part of the most deeply rooted tradition of the Arab world and a sample of them is the Souk of perfumes. In this market you can find any type of fragrance. Essential oils, incense, scents of different woods and a very long etc..
Traders offer the possibility of selling wholesale, but you can also take perfumes to measure with the mixtures of fragrances of your choice and in bottles of different sizes. There is a range of prices to suit all budgets, but be aware that some of the perfumes can cost as much as some of the jewelry in the gold souk.
- How to get there: It is located east of the gold souk, a few hundred meters along the 10th street. The metro and bus stops are the masses I mentioned above and it is very close to the Al Sabkha Abras station if you arrive across the river.
- Opening hours: The perfume stores follow the same business hours, 9 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 10 pm and close on Friday mornings.
5. Taste the best dishes at the Deira waterfront market
For those who want a taste of Dubai's cuisine, the Deira waterfront market is a must-visit. Today the market is more modern and better conditioned, but retains the classic essence of the souks. Its main attraction is the fish stalls where you will find all kinds of fresh products brought directly from the Persian Gulf. In addition to fish and seafood, there are stalls of meat, fruits and vegetables.
In the early morning arrives all the fresh goods so it is the best time to visit the market. You can also take the opportunity to see how they clean and prepare the fish. If you intend to buy do not forget to haggle and the classic forms of the souks are maintained. The market also has restaurants that are supplied with the products of the complex. In addition, if you leave with the bug, you can also book a tour of Dubai with street food.
- How to get there: The market is located in the northern part of the Deira neighborhood along the coast. It is a bit far from the most touristy area of the souks so the best way to get there is by cab. For its low prices and the heat of Dubai the cab is always the best way to move around the city. Buses lines 17 and C15 stop nearby, although I recommend that you choose to take the cab.
- Opening hours: It is open 24 hours a day every day. However, it is closed during some hours for cleaning: from Saturday to Thursday, from 2 to 4 p.m., and on Fridays, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.. I recommend that you go first thing in the morning, as this is when they have the freshest produce. If not, you can go at the last minute, since the remaining products are usually at cheaper prices. If you can avoid going on Fridays it is better, since it is the day of rest for Islam and it is usually more crowded.
6. Get a taste of the local culture at Heritage House
The Heritage House is a historic and traditional Dubai building turned into a museum of sorts where we can see first hand what traditional home life was like. The building dates back to the late 19th century and was owned by one of Dubai's most famous merchants in the 20th century, who converted it into a 950 square meter palace. The government of Dubai bought it in 1994 and renovated it for tourism.
During the visit to the Heritage House you will tour all the rooms of the house and serve as a mirror to the former life of its guests. In the courtyard of the mansion you can relax and enjoy a cup of tea served right there. The visit is free, very enjoyable and also being very close to the gold souk is a highly recommended.
- How to get there: The house is practically next to the gold souk. If you go by metro and get off at the Al Ras stop on the green line, the Heritage House is right next to it. You can also get there by Abra by getting off at the Deira Old Souq Marine stop. By bus lines 8, 10, X10, X10, 91A and X23 stop nearby. You can also book a night bus tour of Dubai.
- Hours: Visiting hours are Saturday to Thursday from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm and Friday from 2:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Remember that admission is free.
7. Relax at Al Mamzar Beach Park
The Deira neighborhood is located north of the estuary that separates the city, bordering the Persian Gulf coast and the Dubai International Airport, and is on the list of things to see and do in Dubai. To the north of this neighborhood, away from the noise and bustle of the souks and its adjoining street, is the Mamzar Beach Park, an oasis where you can spend the day relaxing on its manicured beaches, ideal if you travel to Dubai in July or if you travel to Dubai in August.
It opened in 1994 and you will have at your disposal green areas, showers, barbecues, playgrounds for children, kiosks, swimming pools, cabins for rent etc.. All this along with a good stretch of white sandy beaches very neat and clean that make it one of the preferred by tourists.
Access to the park for one day has a cost of 5 dirhams, at the exchange rate is 1.20 euros approximately. If you also want to have access to the swimming pools of the park the entrance fee is 2.40 euros. If you go by car the parking has an additional cost of 7.20 euros.
It is important to know that on Mondays and Wednesdays only women and children are allowed to enter due to the traditions of the country and that you will also have to respect the dress code of Dubai.
- Opening hours: The opening hours of the park are from Sunday to Wednesday from 8 am to 10 pm and from Thursday to Saturday from 8 am to 11 pm.
- How to get there: The bad thing about this park is that it is located far from the city center. But don't let that stop you from enjoying its beaches. As always in Dubai, the cab is the best option to get there. If you opt for the bus line C28 stops at the entrance of the park. So far my list of recommendations of places to visit in Deira. A neighborhood full of magic and tradition that you can not miss if you travel to Dubai.
And if you go with children, I recommend you also book your ticket for the Aquaventure water park. They will love it!