A popular tourist destination, Dubai Creek is a brackish canal that leads inland from the sea. Located along the length of the Creek are many shops and restaurants, hotels and the Dubai Museum and the various Souks. The Souks are specialized shopping districts that cater to a particular product: there is a Gold Souk, Fabric Souk, Spice Souk and a few others. If you’re looking to buy crafted gold and gold jewelry, there is no place in the world that you will find a better deal than at the Dubai Gold Souk.
On the opposite side of the creek from the Dubai Museum is a large Indian and Pakistani ethnic area with several fine Indian and Pakistani restaurants and shops. The prices “where the locals eat” are considerably lower than “where the tourists eat” by a factor as much as 10x. Where a lamb kebab meal at a trendy restaurant may cost you US $35 or $40, in one of the local shops you can literally gorge yourself for $5 or less.
Many of the Indian and Pakistani workers are employed on the other side of the creek and convenient ferry boats cross every few minutes. The boats are traditional looking Arabic dhow boats that were painted in bright colors – their look created a nice contrast to the green water of the creek and blue sky above. Passage is quite inexpensive and allowed us a chance to get some river views and we each took turns getting a photo from the bow of the boat (below).
We spent at least two hours walking along the creek chatting with some of the locals (well, expat locals – it seems that all of the Emirates citizens were somewhere else). Quite a few of the Indian and Pakistani people were fishing on their day off from work, maybe supplementing their diet with some freshly caught fish. As I looked at the drops of oil in the water from the ferry boats (ecology and conservation hasn’t yet seemed to have arrived in the Gulf), I wondered about the cleanliness of eating creek fish.
We chatted with one Indian man who was fishing and he said that his wife and three children were at home and he sends a portion of his (taxi cab) wages home each month. He also supports his parents and some siblings. While he doesn’t earn a fortune in Dubai, his wages are quite fat compared to the averages wages in his hometown in India. He said that he has worked in Dubai for almost three years; he typically works ten months and then goes home to India for 2 months. He said that in the last few months his fares have dropped considerably.
As he pulled his line from the water to check his hook (it was stripped and he applied another small piece of meat to it), I noticed that he his sinker (weight) was an unusual object – he was using a spark plug! Well, I guess whatever works!
As we walked along the creek we saw marinas full of luxury yachts and beautiful fishing boats. You could tell that there was a lot of money in this town based only on the number and size of the pleasure fleet that was anchored here. Near one of the boats we saw a construction project and I noticed that the work was being performed by some relatives of our tall friend who was last seen hiding in some caves in Afghanistan. Even though he has been shunned by his family, he left with enough millions of dollars to fund his operations for some decades.
We took another ferry boat across the creek and I took the opportunity to capture a photo of my touring companions. Directly behind me (wearing sunglasses) is Frederick the Catholic Monk, on the left is my British friend and on the right the nice young man from Denmark that shared his views on the Palestine question.
Not only is Dubai a spectacle for riches and construction, it is a warm desert climate with inviting winter weather and clean beaches. If you ever have occasion to pass by Dubai, try to arrange a layover for a few days, you won’t regret it.
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