Get away from the OTT skyscrapers and fantasy hotels for the morning and discover the old-world charms of Dubai before the oil rush. We will meet local Emirati friends who will introduce us to their traditional ways of life, discover the cultural treasures of the Alfahidi district, and then shop till we drop in the best souks in the city. Plenty of time will be dedicated to browsing (and making a street food pit stop if you fancy) with your local guide on-hand to assist in finding the best price for what you want.
Our tour begins with a gentle stroll to the historic Alfahidi district, one of the oldest heritage sites in Dubai. As we journey through its narrow lanes we will start to discover more about what life was like here before the skyscrapers came.
Our first stop is a traditional Bedouin tent where we will share a coffee and chat with our Emeriti friend Abo and find out more about the life of the Bedouin people. We will meet Abos pet falcon who is treated with love and respect by his owner (falcons are no longer used for hunting in the UAE). At a neighbouring tent, we will learn more about the national dress of the country and take a look at some traditional abaya dresses and kandoura.
In the Islamic world, calligraphy is a highly revered art form. So, we will admire some beautiful artwork at the Calligraphy Museum before learning how to write your name in Arabic, fancy pen-in-hand.
Time for another drink and this time our coffee will come with a side of history as we visit the Coffee Museum to learn about local coffee customs. We will sample some delightful Arab blends in the cute café before moving on to soak up a little more culture before the shopping extravaganza commences.
The local art gallery we are visiting is nestled in a beautiful old Persian house, displaying many unique local ceramics, glassware, and sculptures as well as paintings and photography.
Time to indulge in Dubais favourite pastime now with a spot of shopping. Our first souk stop will be the vibrant textile souk, not far from the creek, where we will enter a world of multicoloured cashmere, fine silks, and the art of bartering for your treasures.
At the nearby Abra stop, we will take a water taxi to the other side of the creek where a delicious surprise awaits us. Luscious dates covered in creamy white chocolate made from camel milk, a local delicacy and a must-try while you are visiting the old town.
You will probably be able to smell our next stop before you see it. At the spice souk, we will learn about the different spices used in Arabic, Iranian, and Indian cuisine. Our final stop on our cultural and commercial journey will be the largest gold souk in the Middle East, a fascinating place that should be number one on every tourists itinerary. A feast for the eyes, the gold souk features incredibly lavish Arabic jewellery and dazzling displays of gold and other stones. Your guide will be on-hand to aid you in the bartering process should you wish to buy anything.
There are plenty of restaurants and street food vendors around this area, so if you are all shopped out, talk to your local guide, who can recommend the best places to stop for a quick bite.
We will end our whirlwind journey through the culture and exotic souks of Dubai at the Al Ras metro station. If you want any hints or tips on what else to do during your trip, be sure to quiz your guide before you go.