Deira is home to one modern shopping mall, but the traditional souks are where you’ll find the most unique and interesting souvenirs. Whether you’re looking to buy or you’re just browsing, a wander through these markets is worth it to experience the chaotic atmosphere, colourful sights and rich smells. There’s no need to worry about the quality of the products either, as the souks are all government-regulated.
One place not to be missed is the Gold Souk, where you’ll discover a sparkling sea of gold bars, coins, necklaces and watches. At the nearby Spice Souk, the smell of cinnamon and saffron sticks pervades the air, while the collection of shops known as the Perfume Souk is full of exotic scents and essential oils in decorated vials. If you do fancy treating yourself, don’t forget to haggle with the sellers.
Across the Creek
Located close to the Dubai Creek, Deira offers fantastic waterfront views across the city. During the day, head to the Dhow Wharfage to catch sight of Dubai’s age-old shipping industry at work. In the evening, there’s the chance to view the spectacular skyline and bright lights from the creek on a dinner cruise with an on-board bar and shisha lounge. There’s also plenty of bars dotted along the waterfront where you can spend a couple of hours watching the boats float by while enjoying a refreshing drink.
If you fancy a change of scenery, hop on board an abra ferry at the local port and cross the water to the Bur Dubai district. Here, you can visit some of the city’s most impressive landmarks, including the world’s tallest observation deck at the Burj Khalifa and the super-size Dubai shopping mall.
Just a 20-minute taxi journey east of Deria is the Al Mamzar Beach Park. The ideal place for a family day out, the landscaped park includes a host of recreational areas and activities, from sandy shores and swimming pools to playgrounds and picnic areas. There’s plenty of sun loungers and cabanas for hire, as well as bike rentals and watersports for those who like to stay active.
If you need a break from the scorching sun and busy bazaars, Deira is home to some fascinating museums. Just around the corner from the Gold Souk is the Women’s Museum, which shines the spotlight on some of the United Arab Emirates’ most notable women in science, politics, education and literature. On the edge of the Spice Souk you’ll also come across the former home of the famous Arabic poet, Mubarak bin Al Oqaili. This well-preserved museum offers an interesting insight into his life and work, with original manuscripts and personal belongings on display.
Where to eat and drink
When it comes to eating out, Deira has a wide range of choice on offer. The district has an eclectic mix of sleek restaurants serving international dishes and backstreet curry houses where eating with your hands is encouraged. There’s plenty of opportunities to sample authentic Arabic delicacies packed full of spice-infused flavours and aromas, including camel stew, shawarma, flatbread and falafel.
Party-goers will be pleased to know there’s lots of places to enjoy an after-dinner drink too. The Irish Village pub is a favourite drinking hole among tourists in Deira, with occasional live music and pleasant gardens to enjoy a Guinness or two. There’s also an assortment of lively cocktail bars and nightclubs that stay open until the early hours.