Friday, February 17, 2017

Souks of Old Dubai - Wander with Nada

I've been eager to visit the Middle East and I finally got my chance.  I tagged along with Matt on a work trip to Dubai.  He was working all day and I was happy to enjoy the hotel pool or walk around the famous Dubai Malls by myself.  But I also wanted to see a bit more of the city.  I was reluctant to set out on my own so I booked a morning tour with Wander with NadaIt was the perfect way to explore beyond the skyscrapers and shopping.  This tour was the highlight of my time in Dubai.  I came away from it buzzing with information and a new appreciation for a different side of the city. 

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada


Nada's website says that on her tour you'll "hear some history and contemporary tidbits, have a charming adventure, and make a local friend." 

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

This is exactly what happened.  Nada has been living in Dubai for 20 years.  She is passionate and knowledgeable about her adopted home. She brought the city alive for me.

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

As soon as she walked up to me at our meeting spot, I relaxed and knew that we were going to have a great day.  Knowing that I'm a wannabe travel photographer, Nada made of point of showing me great photo opportunities as we explored. Our first stop was the famous Dubai Gold Souk.  

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

We passed shop after shop full of glittering gold and precious stones.   The price of each piece includes a regulated amount for the gold by weight plus an additional amount for the craftsmanship.  Incredible craftsmanship was on full display. 


Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Deira is the older part of Dubai and was once the major business area.  This is where you will find several souks or open air markets. Dubai is very unusual in that more than 70% of the population are expatriates.  Most come from Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.  Arabic is the official language of Dubai, but you'll hear a wide variety of others and English is very commonly used. 

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

The next area that we explored was the Spice Souk.  We passed shop after shop, baskets overflowing with cinnamon, cloves, saffron, turmeric, coriander and more.  
 
Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

This is frankincense which is used for medicinal purposes as well as aromatherapy.  We were invited in by one shopkeeper and I experienced true Middle Eastern hospitality.  After handing me a bottle of ice cold water, he gave me a chocolate covered date to try.  I should have purchased a dozen, it was so good. 

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

The shop was brimming with interesting bins and shelves.  The shopkeeper was happy to show me everything and explain what it was all used for. He even brought out the saffron.  Did you know that this crimson spice is more valuable by weight than gold?  It takes over 150 flowers to produce just a gram of saffron.  
 
Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

I left the shop with a pocket full of pistachios, another gift from the smiling shopkeeper.  If you visit the souk, be sure to stop in.  It was the first shop at the entrance on the right hand side. He gave me his business card, but I've misplaced it unfortunately.

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada


Souks are made for shoppers but they are also paradise for a shutterbug.  I took thousands of photographs.  I can't get enough of all of the sights and smells. It was the perfect way to spend the day. 

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

After crossing Dubai creek on a traditional abra (more on that in a future post), we walked through a textile soul full of colorful clothes, scarfs and souvenirs.  

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Unfortunately, I didn't do any shopping.  I was planning on returning again with Matt so passed up so many interesting buys.  We never actually made it back.  I guess that means I'll just need to go back to Dubai soon. 


Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Next time I'm coming home with some shoes.  I'm also keen to have a desert adventure which we couldn't squeeze into this trip.  So much to see and do and so little time. 

Old Souks of Bar Dubai - Wander with Nada

Our tour also included two museum visits which I'll share in my next post.  Thank you, Nada, for sharing such a great day with me!  It was an absolute pleasure.  




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  *I was a guest of Wander with Nada for the purposes of review.  
 All photos, writing and opinions are my own.
As always, I promise to be open, honest and transparent with my readers.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

 

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