5

T – Things Nobody Tells You About Dubai | #AtoZChallenge

T – Things Nobody tells you about Dubai | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

By now, through the previous 19 posts, we have discussed where to shop, which restaurants to visit, which malls to go to and some of the major attractions to cover in Dubai. Today I am going to highlight some of the things, for which not much is written or spoken about but people look for.

Alcohol places

Everybody who travels to Dubai keeps asking me about the places they can consume liquor. Well, there are a plethora of options where you can get a drink but I will tell you a couple of places where you are going to get at the best prices in town along with complimentary food. If you are around Al Karama, head to President Hotel, just beside it there is a small place by the name of ‘The Cowboys’. Till today it is my favorite place to head to for a round of beer and a game of pool.

Another place, where you are sure you to find some offers in their happy hours, is in Ambassador Hotel – George and Dragon bar in their ground floor has good music, decent food and some really cheap cocktail and beer options. If you are into live music then head to the Ramee Royal Hotel in Karama – The Times Café is a huge sports bar where you will find great music with some wonderful deals on liquor.

Sheesha Places

The Arabic world is also famous for its ‘Sheeshas’ that forms a part of their traditional heritage. A sheesha place is not far away in Dubai and you can always locate one in your vicinity. Though my personal favorite is ‘Koyla Lounge’ in Al Karama for their amazing ‘hookahs’ and ‘sheeshas’ and affordable food with great music. QD’s is another favorite hotspot – enjoy the sheesha sitting alongside the creek.

Dance bars

Being touted as the sin city of the Middle East many people travel with the expectation of finding places like in Vegas or Amsterdam. If yes, then you will be highly disappointed; Dubai doesn’t have any strip clubs.

Almost all the major hotels have dance bars in Dubai. Don’t get confused with the dance bars that you might find in India. These are sophisticated places where you occupy a table and watch dancing moves from a distance. You will find a lot of women in the audience as well. It is compulsory for you to order something. Some of the best places include Antakshari in President Hotel in Al Karama and one in Ambassador hotel in Bur Dubai. Make sure you don’t make anyone uncomfortable with your gestures.

Massage Parlors

Massage parlors are like pan shops in India. Sometimes I feel it is difficult to get water in some places but a massage parlor is only a throw-away. If you like to pamper yourself, do try their Moroccan bath – that’s quite famous.

VOIP access is limited

If you are traveling to Dubai, make sure your international roaming is activated otherwise calling through Whatsapp and Skype won’t work. There are other proxy apps that might work but the reception would be patchy and would invariably require an Internet connection.

Lost and Found

If by any chance you forget or lose a valuable thing or some cash, be assured most of the time you will find it back.

Gold ATM

You can even buy gold directly from an ATM in the Dubai Mall. Amazing, isn’t it! The prices are updated every 10 min and are in sync with the current market prices and all you have to do is swipe your card and a gold bar will pop out.

Precautions while driving

Apart from following traffic rules, one has to be very attentive and aware while driving about the road exits because if you miss one it might take you another 20 min to find another. The roads can get really confusing sometimes.

Carry warm clothing

Wherever you traveling to and in any climate, it is advisable to carry warm clothing or a jacket with you. Although you will be in the desert every place in Dubai is air-conditioned and you might find the temperatures in malls and offices freezing.

Avoid altercation

I know I should not bring this out, but if for some reasons you get into an altercation with an Arab, the police might appear to be soft on them. Suck up your pride and move on – the Best thing is minding your own business. Please follow the rules.

Spot a Tiger

In most of the countries, it is very common for someone to see a dog peeping out of a car window, well Dubai is known for its tigers. Don’t be surprised or shocked if you find a tiger staring at you at a traffic light. That’s completely normal.

Road closures

Road closures are quite normal for maintenance work in Dubai. Don’t get too attached to a particular route and always learn alternative options because you will definitely come across a couple of road closures very frequently.

Meeting the Sheikh

If spotting a tiger was surprising for you, imagine what if you are crossing the road along with Sheikh Mohammad. He lives a normal life and it’s not uncommon to find him traveling via metro, simply using a zebra crossing, standing right behind you in a mall queue. In our part of the world where the VVIP culture is predominant, he sets some exemplary standards.

With Dubai, all I can say is always be prepared to be shocked, awed, surprised and be ready for unpredictability in all sense.

For all those who were looking for alcohol places,

For all those who love sheeshas,

For all those who love to pamper themselves,

And

For all those who wanted to know things, nobody tells about…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 20th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘U’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

19

S – Souks in Dubai | #AtoZChallenge

S – Souks of Dubai | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

After the last post on restaurants and food places of Dubai, I received a lot of feedback from a lot of people that this was the last thing that they were looking for. I am sure most of the women were lying (Just kidding). This post should be of utmost importance to them. If they aren’t concerned with shopping then who will; I have often found women confessing to me that they find shopping therapeutic.

We have already discussed the malls in Dubai, let’s dedicate this post to the markets or as they call it ‘Souks’ in Dubai. I find malls very monotonous, with most of them having similar lines of retail outlets. My father always told, when you travel, to feel the real culture and vibe of a place travel and explore the local markets.

Before proceeding I would like to highlight what are some of the things that are a must buy from Dubai – perfumes, gold, electronics, spices, textiles, coffee, chocolates, dates, honey and carpets.

Gold Souk

It is the world’s largest gold market with around 300 retailers. The gold souk is located in the Al Ras area of Deira region of Dubai. There is a reason why Dubai is known as the city of gold. The products are government regulated and hence the quality of the products is pretty much genuine everywhere you shop. The gold is also of better quality, usually 22 or 24 carats, compared to India and hence it is considered cheaper than India.

It is a traditional market with narrow lanes with glittering gold on display everywhere. Don’t forget to be at your bargaining best. The gold souk is very well connected using any mode of transport.

Spice Souk

Just next to the gold souk, you will be transported to the aroma-laden streets of traditional trade hub of Dubai, The Spice Souk. The moment you enter the street a strong aroma of spices, which appear to be pleasantly soothing, will greet you. You can purchase an extensive variety of spices found across the planet. The spice souk is not only famous for spices; in fact, you can purchase some of the best dry fruits and dates for your trip back.

Perfume Souk

The first thing that I noticed as soon as I landed in Dubai was the strong scent of perfumes and ‘ittra’ that the locals would be wearing. For some reason, it gives a comforting feeling to everything. Needless to mention the street is an amalgamation of some of the finest scents available.

Perfume souk is also in the same Deira locale on the Sikkat Al Khail Road. You can find anything from the traditional Arabic ittras to more contemporary options. You will find perfume shops in malls too, but the price in the perfume street is unbeatable. They are the perfect souvenirs and don’t forget to take the ‘Oud’ flavor.

Textile Souk

Take an abra for just one dirham and cross the creek to the other side, Bur Dubai. Here you would come across the textile souk, which is also known as the ‘old souk’. The ambiance is reminiscent of the 80s era with small sand-colored shops with wooden frames and architecture, offering a wide variety of clothing and fabric options at very nominal prices.

Meena Bazaar

Meena Bazaar is my favorite market in Dubai. If you aren’t able to visit all the markets separately then it’s better to pay a visit to the Meena Bazaar. Once there, you will not feel as if you are in Dubai and it reminds so much of any traditional market in India. You will find everything here in its narrow lanes; from perfumes to dates, from gold to clothes, from Indian street food to Arabic shawarma, from souvenirs to first copies of watches.

It is extremely difficult to find tailors in Dubai, Meena Bazaar sorts that out for you. Keep 2 to 3 hours when visiting it. Get down at the Al Fahidi station of the green metro line and start walking towards the creek, Meena Bazaar will be on the left-hand side.

Friday Market

A market that is a little far from the city of Dubai towards the East Coast region. It started as a weekly market, which would be set up on Fridays in Masafi – yeah, the same Masafi from where the mineral water comes from. Today it has become a famous tourist place and is now on all weekdays not just Fridays.

You can visit the market for plants, fruits, vegetable, carpets, pottery, handicrafts and household items that are considerably cheaper than what you will find in Dubai.

Fruits & Vegetable Souk

It is in the Ras Al Khor region and is favored by the wholesale or bulk buyers. Now completely shaded, it is a perfect place to get your fresh veggies at a cheap price. You will find supermarket trolleys to help you with your stuff to the cars.

Naif Souk

Naif Souk has come a long way from its older days of being just a camel market to being a full-fledged marketplace like Meena Bazaar. It is located in the old Deira district of Dubai. The lanes are narrow with shops cramped in and the market is amongst the oldest souks in Dubai. You can find perfumes, attar (ittra), phones, gifts, hardware and a lot of other things including some really cheap food options.

Karama Market

It is the ‘first-copy’ or ‘fakes’ market in Dubai. Located in the Al Karama region you can reach easily by metro and get down at the station with the same name. You will find copies of almost everything; bags, wallets, DVDs, jewelry, watches, shoes, sunglasses and so on. If you are not from the brand or an expert in that product you will not be able to tell the difference with the naked eye.

Some markets that are not the traditional souks but are named and are high-end markets.

Souk Madinat – it is the same market that we discussed in the Jumeirah region. The architecture brings the old-world charm to life with modern shopping outlets. It is a place for souvenirs, fine art and sculptures with some amazing cafes and restaurants.

The Souk – it is a dedicated area within the Dubai Mall reflecting the Emirati heritage and is famous for fine jewelry, precious metals and gemstones.

Souk Al Bahar – the perfect marriage of traditional Arabic marketplace with modern design, situated just on the shores of Khalifa Lake in Downtown Dubai. You can shop while enjoying the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa in the background. It is famous for Bateel dates, incense cones, jewelry, abayas, brass lamps and fresh Arabic pastries.

Note: The Gold Souk, Spice Souk and Perfume Souk are on the Deira side of the creek and The Textile Souk and Meena Bazaar on the Bur Dubai side.

On Fridays, most of the markets are closed in the first half and they usually open around 4-5pm.

All the beautiful women and wonderful shopaholics out there can thank me later and you can always reach out for any other information on what to buy and from where.

For all those who love shopping,

For all those who travel to markets,

For all those who collect souvenirs,

And

For all those who love traditional souks…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 19th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘T’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.