The university gave my mum a bus ticket for a tour of the city as part of her welcome packet. Today we bought me a ticket and went to explore old Dubai.
We started at the home of the first Sheikh. Sheikh Saeed was the grandfather of Sheikh Zayed who was the first Sheikh to start a university for girls. The architecture, all the different shades of brown from the earth, the way the home was build, all this gave an insight into Arabian culture. What I remember most are the iron doors and wooden windows, built into, what I’m guessing is, mud made walls.
There is a bus every 20min, we got on the next bus and went to see the souks. A souk is an Arab market or marketplace… Dubai has a world famous Gold Souk which seems entirely insane to me. Everything they sell there is genuine! Pure gold and real diamonds. Not just one shop but it carries on for a blocks almost a few kilometers of jewellery stores, handcrafted jewelry.
The whole day consists of sales men trying to get me interested in their products and me just trying to look and get by. Here you don’t go to look, you go to buy.
Haggling is expected, you never pay the price on the tag, even in a jewellery store with diamont earings you have to try and get the price down. This is a skill I’ll perfect when I have money to haggle with!
Down a little ally we found a vegeterian restaurant where we each had 2 samosas. Now I don’t know what a true samosa should be, but in my mind they are bought at Woolworths and filled with beef or chicken. Today I tasted one with potato, beans, lentils and a lot of spice, it was served with some or other sweet sauce that had its own tang of spiciness.
On our way back to the souks we passed a little stand where they where selling shawles. I bought a green one for AED 40 after the owner had told me AED 55 so atleast I haggled him down with 15 Dirhams, though I have no idea if that a little or a lot, but I like my shawl, it’s pretty.
Here the day got a little craze, we went into the “true souks”. The gold souk has become more of a tourist atraction, its more organised… We walked through old town Dubai, the little streets and “normal” shops that weren’t built for tourists. Before I knew exactly where I was there were material stores all around me and shawl stands and pillow covers and scarves and oh material in every form, but mostly shawls and scarves. We were in the Textile Souk. With every step somebody tries to show you their scarves and shawls they wanna drape them over you. I kept saying I’m not interested but that didn’t help one bit. I wanted to brows and maybe when I found something I liked I’d buy it, but browsing is an almost unknown consept. It was a sea of colour and noise and indian sales men, of the most beautiful material I’ve ever seen, but couldn’t look at for more then a few seconds before it was being sold to me… The finest silk and softest cashmere wool made into scarves for not to expensive. I’ll go back there very soon.
We almost missed the next bus, but the driver stopped and we ran to get on. Next stop: Spice souk. Every spice you’ve ever heard about and those you didn’t know existed sold in scoops and buckets. Standing next to and infront of the shops in barrels and huge bags. The aroma fills the whole air and makes you want to buy the spices and cook them into a wonderful meal. I saw camel leather shoes today, I think they might be a nice to have someday.
We got into a taxi and came home. This concluded the day. Since we live in Dubai we could skip the rest of the stuff, a cruise on the creek and the Old Souks. We of I shall visit them another day.
I want to go back to the Textile Souk and buy a couple of shawls, just have to find the cheap, non-touristy places…