Dubai Diaries – the Creek and the Souks

After a visit to the Museum, still immersed in the story of Dubai’s evolution into its present glitzy avatar, I headed for the creek. The saltwater inlet divides the two districts of Deira and Bur Dubai.

Soon I was walking through the bustling ‘souks’ – market areas offering a milieu of artifacts from spices, textiles to pure gold – it was an amazing sight to discover a traditional Dubai just in the heart of the modern one. Rows of stores were placed in perfect symmetry – their names inscribed one after the other on the brick walls which ran almost continuously on both sides of the small alley. In the Textile Souk, richly embroidered clothes caught the eyes, fragrance of the spices filled the air in the Spices Souk, and then there were decorative items spread all around. The souks were a maze of colours and appeared to be right out of the market scenes in the Alladin stories…The Arabian Nights, of course! I beamed as the similarity unfolded before me.

The creek was a beautiful sight. Seagulls flew around and perched upon a heritage tower, many a visitor happily fed them. A flock of the birds stood upon a wooden platform, standing still as they looked in the same direction, as if waiting for a cue to begin a performance. The sight made me smile. A few abras lined up at the creekside, while a number of boats rode on the waters. The promenade along the waterside was lined up with restaurants and shops.

There was a road for vehicles nearby which ran between a modern market facility. I continued walking along the creekside, past the array of restaurants. The narrow lane opened up into a broader space, and the Ministry of Finance building stood at one side. As I walked ahead, I spotted the Al Shandagah Watch Tower, and behind it I could see a long wall which seemed to be the boundary of a mansion. Soon I discovered it to be the House of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. This was the residence of the monarch’s family till 1958.  The grand building also housed the Juthoor Art Center. Soon the busy pathway led to an expanse of space. I guessed it to be a park-like setting. Red and white tiles on the ground made subtle designs; pretty red flowers bloomed in rows and the sand-coloured brick buildings had the distinct ‘old’ city touch. Green patches of lawns amidst these added to the beauty of the place.

As the day gradually gave way to the evening, I strolled back to the Abra station. From Bur Dubai Abra Station I boarded an abra, a local boat/water taxi to other side of the creek.  The fare for the ride was collected in an interesting way – the driver doing a merry-go-round, extending his hand towards the seated passengers, and each of us dropped a One Dirham coin on his palm, the trip fare. It was a ‘1 Dirham? Am I in Dubai??’ feel and it had its own unique flavor. It was fun to make the trip across the creek, and lights from the buildings on both banks along with their dazzles upon the water added to the surreal beauty of the twilight.

On the Deira side of the creek, I stepped onto the Baniyas Road and went around for a glimpse of this part of the city. Here too smells of rich spices, perfumes and dazzling of the yellow metal in the Gold Souk would amaze every visitor. Back in Bur Dubai from Deira, I found the old marketplace glistening in the flood of lights. The monuments, including the Al Maktoum House were highlighted with powerful beams. For the day’s ‘hardwork’, I allowed myself some incentives and went around picking up a few goodies (which included 2 Kilos of Turkish Chocolates!).

PS : In case you want to know more about the trip, including the chocolates, please feel free to reach out to me at  🙂

By Champak Sharma

...and photographs are an amazing way to express the vivid shades of the poem called life. There are people and emotions, places and traditions, history and nature, moments and memories – and amidst them I discover the myriad colours of life. Their stories touch my being and I feel an urge to spread the reflections further. And photography is my medium for storytelling. The images are attempts to capture the essence of existences and in the process explore beyond the stereotypes. And with every photograph it’s an amazing feeling within…when a smile in an image spreads onto the lips of its viewer, serenity of a landscape captures someone’s imagination, ruins of an empire fills a mind with wonder, a high flying bird makes someone feel liberated, a look on an unknown face touches a heart…the list goes on. Like many others of my age, as a child growing up during 1990s – the still camera fitted with a photographic reel was a fascination for me. As time passed the compact digital camera became a household name and we no longer needed to ‘develop the negatives’. Now we have the DSLRs. Technologies have moved ahead simplifying the device – but photographs continue to be special moments preserved in the flow of time with interesting tales behind those shots. And this platform is an endeavor to share the photographs I capture, their stories and my experiences. As I attempt to explore the world through the lens, please join me in this journey and do share your views/comments.

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