Lonely Planet review
If ‘New Dubai’ feels like a blend of Singapore and Las Vegas, crowded and old (relatively speaking) Deira feels more like a cross between Cairo and Karachi - and nowhere more so than in its carnival-like souqs. Steps from the Deira Old Souq abra station, the guttural singsong of Arabic bounces around the lanes of the small, covered Spice Souq as vendors work hard on you to unload aromatic frankincense, dried lemons, chillies, exotic herbs and spices.
Even if you’re not in the market for bling, a stroll through the nearby covered arcades of the enormous Gold Souq is a must. Hundreds of stores overflow with every kind of jewellery imaginable - tasteful diamond earrings to over-the-top golden Indian wedding necklaces. Bonus: the people-watching. You’ll see everything from touts hawking knock-off watches to hard-working Afghan guys dragging heavy carts of goods, to African women in colourful kaftans.
Further south on Sikkat al-Khail St, gold gives way to the heady scents of Arabian attars (perfume) and oud (wood incense chips) and the cheap smell of fake European colognes: you’ve reached the Perfume Souq . Beyond here, the Deira Covered Market is not covered at all but a mad warren of small stores hawking cheap…anything! - from T-shirts to toilet brushes, incense to sheesha pipes.
Wrap up a souq tour in the ‘fragrant’ but fantastic Fish Market where you’ll observe vendors and customers haggling wildly over shrimp the size of bananas, metre-long kingfish and other wriggling wares. The fruit and vegetable souq next door isn’t nearly as exciting but great for stocking up on bargain-priced produce.