Dubai is the capital right?

Given that the majority of people seemed confused about the capital of the UAE, I figured I would find an excuse to go to Dubai. For the uninitiated Dubai is not the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is, but mention your living in the UAE and the response will generally involve something about living in Dubai. Given that it seems to symbolise the opulence, wealth and eccentricity of an extremely rich country in the Middle East, I decided to explore its more historical and charismatic sections.

For a no-fuss trip to Dubai from Abu Dhabi, I suggest taking the bus as it runs very regularly and for 15 dirhams its cheap as chips and fully air conditioned and comfortable. The 90 minute trip is a good way to see some of the surrounding landscapes of the emirate and will give you an idea of what the country looked like before its financial boom. As parking is horrendous in Dubai, and driving is an adventure in itself, the bus is the safest bet and drops you off near the souks.

Textile souk
On the way to the Souk
Dhow rides are a necessary experience
The first impression I got was that Dubai had a completely different feeling compared to Abu Dhabi. It was a mixture of business and pleasure. However, its endeavors to keep its traditional image in tact against the modernisation juggernaut. The bus station is not directly located at the souk so a short walk is necessary, however, this allows one to view the day to day bustle of Dubai.

Local worker

The souks, be it gold, textile, home-wares, spice etc are incredibly interesting and is a refreshing change from the super western, manicured malls that dominate the UAE. As with all old world markets, be prepared to be hassled by shop owners and the bevy of compliments thrown your way is actually quite hilarious. 

The range of products on offer is mesmerizing and one can obtain cinnamon sticks a meter long, beautifully woven scarves in every shape and colour and even breast enlarging soap. It is a sensory overload and one can't help be transported to mythical lands and locations when the smell of Frankincense and Oud fills your nostrils. 

Take your time walking around and enjoy the diversity that is on offer. The people are genuinely nice and all to eager to barter on goods and become your best friend.
Novelty and traditional gifts

Local footwear

Spice shop

Ready to go spices

If the senses are overloaded and a break is needed from the souks, wander around and you will surely discover some historical gems. This is exactly what I did and discovered a historical village that was a wonderful glimpse into the past.

Long straight walls dominate the alley ways and the soft orange colours of the fencing is relaxing and pleasing to the eye. Lifting your eyes will enable you to appreciate the ingenuity of the local people with the design and practicality of the wind towers, which were used as air conditioners.

traditional lane way

Wind tower

Classic architecture

Each lane way contains local gems and surprises waiting to be discovered. Going in open-minded and with a sense of curiosity with reap many cultural rewards.

old vs new

Surprises at every turn

The beauty is in the detail
Unfortunately, the name of the region I ventured into eludes me but this is not important as I thoroughly encourage everyone to discover there own Middle Eastern gem when walking around Dubai. The joy of no particular game plan when exploring, means you have a level of flexibility that allows you to roll with whatever happens. A prime example of this was to discover a museum which was serving food and drinks. Given that it was close to 50C and Ramadan, this was a welcome surprise and one that was embraced enthusiastically. 

Respite with beauty, perfect!

The setting within this new discovery was beautiful and very peaceful. You are encouraged to explore the complex, read the books, bathe in its history and get closer to a true representation of the Middle East. Little surprises awaited us in every corner and I found myself getting excited at what I may discover if I explored further.

Friendly local
New friends

Sitting in the Majlis and handling a falcon was a highlight of the trip and I encourage people to experience it for themselves. Try everything and embrace it all is the best way to explore I believe.

As the heat of the day steadily climbed I decided that I must see on aspect of Dubai that is impressive in a different way from that of the souks and the historical village. The Burj Khalifa is the worlds tallest building at 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories. It is impressive and, as weird as it may sound, incredibly tall. It's not until your up close that its enormity really dawns on you and, after your neck has recovered from arching upwards at an extreme angle, it is in fact surprisingly beautiful. Information on how to book for a tour can be found on the above link. I chose to leave my ascension of such a monstrous building until my next return trip. A light and water show commences at the base of the building every half hour on the hour after 7:30 pm at night.

Touching the heavens

Light and water show is different to say the least.

All in all,I enjoyed Dubai and look forward to going back to explore it more deeply and really discovering the true Dubai. Yes, it has money and likes to show it off, but it also has its own sort of charisma and charm. As a stop over point for a large number of international flights, Dubai has plenty to offer. Whether it be a day or a week, this is a bustling city that mixes the old world with modern technologies and is worth more than just a glance. Although it is not the capital city of the UAE, this city certainly tries its best to be, and there in lies the attraction to it for me and the endless surprises that await discovery.