Last time I stopped over in Dubai, I opted to visit the part of town that expands along the Sheikh Zayed Rd: the ‘new’ Dubai - paradoxical, excessive… almost unreal. This time I decided to spend my overnight in Dubai on the other side of the Creek, in Deira, the ‘old’ city, the pulsing heart of Dubai.
Here waves of Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan, Filipino, Lebanese, and Pakistani immigrants have disorderly settled in in the past decades, and live now altogether in a Saudi melting-pot. Here the various souqs (the Gold Souq, the Spice Souq, the Perfume Souq, etc.) contrast the luxury shopping-malls on the other side of the Creek.
Described as dusty, crowded, and chaotic, travel guides consider it the ‘Karachi of the Saudi Peninsula’. Well, I have never been to Karachi (not yet), but I do start knowing that corner of the world well enough to feel comfortable in saying that Deira is still too clean, too tidy, too new to be compared to any city of the Indian sub-continent at all. However, the smell of spices and street food, the crowd in the streets, the queues outside the mosques, the small shops open late in the night, make this place pleasantly lively…
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