Camels and Creeks: 3 Ways to Experience Old Dubai

Before the futuristic skyscrapers, fancy malls and manmade beaches, Dubai was known mainly for its fishing and pearl industries. In the 1960s, oil was discovered and the city began it's journey of rapid growth and modernization that is still on the rise. These days, you can find most visitors hanging out in upscale clubs downtown, or soaking up rays at Jumeirah Beach, but many skip over the older part of town known as Bur Dubai. Although Bur Dubai lacks the fancy cars and shiny buildings of southern parts of the city, it makes up for it in culture and a hustle and bustle reminiscent of the pre-oil days. Many tourists think that Dubai is a brand new city with no culture or history, but that is far from the truth! Check out a few must-visit sites and activities that will give you a glimpse of the Dubai of yesteryear. 


1. Visit the Gold Souk

Shopping is everywhere in Dubai, but you haven't gotten an authentic (and slightly annoying) experience until you visit the gold souks, or markets. Aside from gold, the area has a variety of other souks that sell everything from textiles, to shoes, spices and pearls. Beware though: when the vendors see tourists, they see dollar signs. Be ready for every single vendor to practically follow you down the street in an attempt to get you to shop. While the shops have some interesting finds, perusing in this area can become a bit of headache. If you do decide to shop though, remember one word: haggle. The vendors love it. 



2. Take a Ride on an Abra 

The best way to get to the old souks is on an abra boat. Once upon a time, these narrow wooden boats were used primarily for transporting goods across Dubai's creek. Although workers still use them for this, they also have a slew of abras that ferry visitors and locals alike across the creek to the souks. For only 1 AED, (approximateLy .27) you can hail a cheap ride across the water to take in the picturesque views of the creek and Old Dubai. Take a taxi or Uber to the Bur Dubai Abra Station to hop on an abra to the other side of the creek.



3. Check Out a Camel Race

Yes, you read correctly. Camels can run. As a matter of fact, they can run up to 40 MPH once they get going. Camel racing is the official sport of The UAE, and these days, you can find a modern version of a local tradition at camel racing tracks on the outskirts of the city. The sport is just like horse racing except there are no jockeys (or horses). Instead owners ride next to their camel in 4x4s to lead them to the finish line. From September through April, visitors can check out this age-old tradition that's a surefire way to get a truly authentic taste of Emirati culture.

Hotel Crush: Rove Hotel Downtown Dubai


Dubai is known for it's futuristic skyscrapers, luxury shopping options and of course, lavish hotels. While everyone dreams of staying in a fancy hotel with grand views while visiting Dubai, their budget may not agree. If you want beautiful views of the city without the expensive price tag, Rove Downtown Dubai may be for you! 

Opened earlier this year, Rove is a chic, yet affordable option for urban explorers that love the city life. The low price/high quality rooms give modern travelers a first-class experience that won't break the bank. 

The spacious rooms are flooded with natural light and come with free high-speed WIFI, a 48- inch flat screen, tons of outlets and USB ports and a sleek rain shower. The only setback is that irons are not in the room.  If you call the front desk and ask though, they will send one up that you can keep for the remainder of your stay. 

The hotel is conveniently located just minutes from the Dubai Mall (the largest mall in the world in case you didn't know) and offers breathtaking views of the city. For an additional cost (that's completely worth it) you can upgrade to a room with views of the world's tallest building, better known as the Burj Khalifa. 

When it comes to lunch time, delicious food is only an elevator ride away. The Daily Downtown Dubai, Rove's in-house market-style restaurant, offers a full menu of globally-inspired food, refreshing drinks and snacks. In Dubai, the weekends start on Friday, so brunch is THE thing to do to jumpstart your day. For 99 AED ( approximately  $26) The Daily offers an over-the-top midday feast known as The Bench Brunch that consists of a full buffet of meats, cheeses, yogurts, fresh juices, breads, pastries and desserts, as well as a main entree and the drink of your choice. Brunch  is served every Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and can be enjoyed inside, or outside on the amazing patio that has gorgeous daytime views of The Burj Khalifa. 

Rove's inexpensive, travel-friendly vibe is a relatively new concept in a city known for its pricey, extravagant hotels. It's funky decor, helpful staff and prime location make it a fantastic option for chic and adventurous travelers that love stylish accommodations without the hefty price tag. 


Address: Burj Daman Building - 312 Al Sa'ada St - Dubai - United Arab Emirates