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A little over ten years ago if you told someone you were going to Dubai, you were met with a deep sense of curiosity and interest. Over time, Dubai has become one of the most popular tourist destinations. This comes as no surprise given its passion to meet the needs of every traveller, certainly one that appreciates a cosmopolitan lifestyle and access to global culture.
This is what Dubai is identifying itself with. An oasis in the UAE that offers its visitors the opportunity to take in shopping, cuisine and culture from all corners of the world, pleasantly encased within an Arabesque veneer.
What began as a venture to cultivate the barren desert sand to reflect the creativity of international architects soon raised a city that ignited global interest. Notably, with the Burj al Khalifa which is currently the tallest building in the world. However, you would be naive to think Dubai is limited in just offering glossy and pristine shopping centres as it also presents an opportunity to appreciate Arabic traditions.
A taste of the Arabic Bedouin culture can be experienced on a short desert safari. The journey begins with skilled drivers showing off their knowledge of the tumultuous terrain, across desert dunes that change at every moment of every day! Once you arrive at the desert campsite, you are greeted with the opportunity to smoke sheesha, have your henna done and drink authentic Arabic coffee, Al qawah. Shortly after, you can experience dining in the open landscape, brought to life by the ever-popular belly dancing, swords play and swirling dancers.
If you further seek to satisfy your desire for authentic Arabic flavours, you need not venture far. The Gould souk is a district dedicated to the sale of gold crafted by Arabic and Indian goldsmiths. Nearby, aromatic spices are openly displayed at stalls to lure in passers-by, tempting them with exotic flavours including saffron, cardamom and sumac.
A little further ahead you will find Bur Dubai, where rows upon rows of shops sell exotic merchandise, notably from India and Pakistan. Meena Bazaar is the destination for purchasing goods imported from South Asia. Be it reasonably priced loose material, jewellery or spices. Don’t be shy of haggling! You can comfortably purchase what you desire at a fraction of the price. Most shop owners expect it, so it would be rude not to! Venture far enough into the busy streets of the bazaar and you’ll come across Dubai Museum, highlighting the urban development of Dubai from a pearl export to a hub of trade and tourism.
It doesn’t end there. The global village is a market that competes with any grand bazaar, showcasing merchandise from Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and China to name but a few of the market areas. You won’t find these goods in any shopping centre as most of the products have been brought over by traders for the sole purpose of the markets. You can purchase Arabic Oud (incense) in one area, try Turkish delight in another and not further than a walk away purchase some Khusaas (sandals) from the Pakistan market.
Dubai’s growing popularity and strong desire to establish itself as the center of tourism reflects in its developmental success. Dubai has cultivated a unique identity, focused on providing its visitors with everything on the forefront of cuisine, merchandise and comfort. From globally re-known cafes and hidden restaurants offering delicacies from around the world, to mega-malls and global bazaars. Dubai has no plans of limiting itself and what it has to offer so, visit Dubai.
By Farina Kokab.
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham