Sunday, January 16, 2011

Exploring Bur Dubai; Western bank of Dubai Creek

The opposite bank of the Dubai Creek from Deira is called Bur Dubai, which is a historic district of Dubai. Bur Dubai Souq, the textile souq, is rather nice, as it is covered with the wooden arcades and goes along the creek, so you can enjoy the waterfront view from some of alleys and restaurants. The souq is full of souvenir shops and lots of people trying to sell you counterfeit designer goods. :) We bought some handmade pillow covers for our friends, and the persuasive Arabian shopkeeper also succeeded to sell my hubby a kandura (he failed to sell him a Ghutrah, though). It was just fun to see him turning into an Arab man :)

As you go through the souq towards the Bastakiya Quarter, you will notice more and more Indian looking stores. The area seems to be callef "Hindi Lane" or Little India. Some of the very narrow alleys that only one person can walk through were filled with small Indian shops (the entrance to each shop being 1m wide) selling cheap souvenirs, sweets, or saris and playing Bollywood music.

A lot of the stores close during prayer time, which happens 5 times a day at predefined times measured according to the movement of the sun. In other words, it seems that the praying times differ each day.

Anyway, you cannot ignore when the praying time is, as you will hear rather loud calls to prayer all over the city. But, even if you can't do shopping, there is a walkway along the creek which is perfect for a stroll.

Also, Dubai Museum is in this area, where you can learn Dubai's history, culture, and tradition. The museum is entertaining enough with lots of lifesize mannequins but also will give you a sense of the city's speed of evolution from the time that used to be a small fishing and pearling village. The museum building is also the oldest in the area that was built around 1787. It used to serve both as residence to Dubai's rulers and the seat of government until 1971.

Just before the entrance to the main museum, you also get to see a primitive house called Al kaimah in which the inhabitants of the Gulf coast area resided that is typically made of palm tree branches, and a summer house Al Arish with traditional wind-tower (barajeel) which served as a natural air conditioner, as it is designed to effectively get in breezes of air blowing in whatever directions. Sit under the wind tower, and you can definitely feel the breeze coming through the cloth tubes.

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