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Historical Dubai: best traditional souks

Don’t miss the souks in Dubai, the authentic Arabic markets!

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Why to visit souks in Dubai? The first impression of this city is usually all the super futuristic shiny stuff (and I can’t say that this is wrong): skyscrapers, best restaurants with cuisine from over the world, white beaches, glass observational desks… But this is only one side of Dubai – you can explore rich and enigmatic Arabic culture in it too!

We were lucky to attend a guided tour through Deira and Al Fahidi historical neighbourhoods organised for us by Visit Dubai, and I’m very glad to share with you one of the best locations where you can feel the historical vibes even today. These are markets, or souks, located in fresh air but under high tents to protect you from the sun. They provide you with some raw authentic vibes, not the luxury attitude, and this makes them a must visit for the travellers.

Vendors are located both right and left of you, and you can just leisurely walk through the market looking around like in a museum even if you’re not interested in acquiring anything. If you decide to buy something, keep in mind that bargaining is a necessity. And of course, you can buy lots of tourist souvenirs on every one of those souks.
Scroll down to learn more!

Gold Souk

Gold souk in Deira is probably the most famous of all the markets of Dubai! I visited it during my first trip to Dubai and was glad to pop in once again. The first thing you can spot near the entrance is the giant gold ring: it’s the biggest gold ring in the world weighing 64kg and decorated with 5.1kg of precious stones. As you proceed, there are dozens of kiosks with beautiful glittering displays selling items made of 18K, 20K, 21K, 22K and 24K gold. The quality is guaranteed by the Dubai government and the prices are believed to be really low (but don’t forget to bargain again!)

The thing that struck me the most was the variety of gold goods. There are not only all kinds of jewellery pieces I was accustomed to like earrings, rings, chains with precious gemstones etc but there are also some extra pieces such as crowns and really huge Arabic style jewellery items covering big areas of the body and even statues!

Spice souk

Spice souk was probably my favourite one in Deira! It’s a very traditional market where you can find all sorts of ingredients or spice mixtures. I didn’t recognize many spices and herbs there: some because I’ve never seen them in raw form, others because I‘ve never heard of them. Thankfully our guide knew them all.

So, on the spice souk there are sulphur (yeah those yellow ‘stones’ on the photos!), indigo balls (it used to be used for washing the white textiles), saffron, star anise, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon sticks, cumin, chilly, cardamom, coriander, thyme, curry powder, orange peel, barberry, curcuma, caraway, basil, preserved lemons, nutmeg, pepper, rose petals just to name a few. What a nice addition to your cooking routine, don’t you agree? 

Textile souk

Textile souk definitely takes you on a ride on a magic carpet as if you were in an exotic fairytale! This market is located in Bur Dubai and just bursts with colours. You can buy fabrics in silk, wool, cotton and of course cashmere, or lavishly decorated ready-to-wear clothes and shoes. Also you can find many decorative elements to buy there too such as buttons, laces or stones. 

Others souks

There are also many other markets in Dubai like Utensils souk where you can buy different utensil supplies or Herb souk adjacent to the Spice souk. The Perfume souk is probably the most famous one of them located really close to Gold souk on Sikkat Al Khali Street.

In Arabic culture, perfumes play a really important role and can hint on your wealth and social status. On Perfume souk, you can explore all kinds of scents, from pure ones to the mixed ones, and from the more ancient traditional up to the modern ones. It’s a great place to try different essential oils and traditional oud and bakhoor and to try everything on your skin too. And just imagine the smell there!

You might also like my other blogs about Dubai:

Hope you loved my blog!

Souks historical Dubai

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