“Dubai Creek is the bustling heart of old Dubai.”—Zoe Rawlins, editor, Visitor Magazine. The Shindagha area, at the mouth of the creek, is the site of its oldest settlement in modern Dubai. After the Liwa-based Bani Yas tribe divided in 1833, the Shindagha was where the Maktoum tribe settled. With its grand wind-tower residences, heritage attractions, and alfresco eateries, the Shindagha waterfront is a great place to spend an evening. “There’s nothing like heading to the waterfront for a stroll and a spot of people-watching, especially at sunset.”—Claire Malcolm, editor, Concierge magazine. Start in the late afternoon so you finish in time for dinner.
Begin the tour at (1) Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort to learn about Dubai’s dramatic transformation from tiny fishing village to cosmopolitan city. From the museum’s exit on Al Fahidi Street, turn left into 62A Street and walk past the white (2) Diwan (Ruler’s office) toward the understated multi-domed (3) Grand Mosque (closed to non-Muslims). The lane beside the mosque leads to (4) Hindi Lane, a vibrant alleyway of little shops selling colorful Hindu and Sikh offerings destined for the nearby temples.
At the end of the alley you’ll see the wooden arcade of (5) Bur Dubai Suq which runs parallel to Dubai Creek. Continue past the textile shops to the water’s edge, taking in the bustle of abras (water taxis) crisscrossing the creek and wooden dhows (boats) being loaded.
Back in the textile suq, stroll under the wooden latticed arches sheltering scores of shops selling everything from saris to sparkling Aladdin slippers.
When you come to a fork, take the left lane and stop at the (6) Indian snack stalls for some spicy samosas or tasty sweets. At the suq’s exit, turn right and head to the creek. Walk along the waterfront, passing busy (7) Bur Dubai Abra Station, until you reach old (8) Shindagha Tower, on your left.
Continue along the Shindagha waterfront, where elegant wind-tower residences now house centers for Islamic studies and architectural heritage. The highlight is the former home of Dubai’s ruling Maktoum dynasty (9) Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum House. Built by Sheikh Saeed’s father, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum, in 1896, the house was home to the ruling family until Sheikh Saeed’s death in 1958. It now houses a fascinating collection of stamps, coins, and illuminating photographs of Dubai taken through the 20th century.
Stroll along the waterfront to see the barasti (palm-frond) huts, old coffeehouse, handicraft suq, and pearl-diving displays at the (10) Heritage and Diving Village, a recreation of the fishing village that once stood here. Try traditional dosa (flat bread) made by veiled local ladies, but save room for an Arabic feast at (11) Kan Zaman restaurant overlooking the water. Return to the Bur Dubai abra station and hire one for an enchanting moonlit cruise down the creek.
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