Saturday, February 13, 2016

The poorest neighborhood

In a place that looks like it was built out of the model of a SimCity game (not my original idea, but I completely agree with it!), the area that we visited on our first day in Dubai was Deira, probably the poorest part of the emirate. This is also a touristic area home to the Spice and Gold Souks.

Jet-lagged and after getting out of the airport past 4am, we took the morning off and only met Pedro (our guide for these few days) around 1pm. When we got to the Souks, we were right in the middle of lunch time and most stalls were closed (lunch or "siesta" time is from noon to 4pm which sense, specially during the Summer where it is best to stay somewhere with AC around these hours. In the Spice Souk, a few stalls were, however, open and we even got to exchange a few words with a Nepalese that explained to us what was what in all the spices that we could see around and even told us that Germans and Scottish had no idea about which was which.

The Gold Souk
Lunch time...
Cinamon, roses, dried lemon... a lot of spices!
The souk a bit later on, now crowded with people

The Nepalese spices guy was the perfect example of all the immigrants that support the work force in the region. As the country and the emirate grow and expand so quickly, the qualified and unqualified labour has to be imported. This brings a hint of a cosmopolitan feel as it is quite easy to find people with many different origins and to find all kinds of food and products; but it also shows the stratification of the country, with people from South Asia most of the unqualified services. Deira is home to a lot of these people.

Lunch happened in a restaurant by the Creek that served Indian food. Rice served with chicken and lamb we decided to eat the proper way, which means, eat with our hands and helped here and there, by the giant Nan bread. As the waiter said, food is way tastier when it is eaten with your hands, even rice! I guess the added flavour must also depend on how often you actually wash your hands, but I kept this thought to myself! However, I have to say that eating the meat with no cutlery was very satisfying (confession - I cheated and ate the rice using the fork, but I was the only one!). The other curious aspect of the restaurant was that we had to move upstairs because of me. The downstairs area was men only and all families (i.e., all groups with women or small children) had to eat in the upper level. Here there were also small rooms, where families can seat on the floor and eat by themselves. A lot of them were being used during our lunch.

Eating it like it is meant to be eaten! 
Which, apparently, enhances the flavour!
In the restaurant we were just by the window and had the view over the creek, which is actually the most beautiful part of Dubai that I've seen so far. In the creek there are small and long, slightly rocking boats full of workers and tourists pay AED 1 (around £0.20) to do the 3 minutes crossing.

 A lot of seagulls in the creek
The little boats
Inside one of them
I think the look on their faces says it all :)

On the other side we found a park where families were seated enjoying their weekend (that here runs from Friday to Saturday) even where they weren't allowed to, and playing sports like a version of street, no net-volleyball or cricket.

Enjoying the weekend
The symbol on the right-middle... now look at the photo again! :)
The street, no net-volleyball (part 1)
The street, no net-volleyball (part 2)
And on the far end, there was this tent. Can you spot the falcon?
On my travels, I often find the oldest areas, which are often the poorest, to be the most interesting ones. And being in Dubai for only 36 hours, but seen a significant part of Dubai, I found this to be one of the most soul-filling places. As for the amazingly lush and modern areas, we will have to wait for the next posts! ;)

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