Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
 
 
Local Knowledge
            Back to Open Skies

Travel to Dubai

 
 

Deira Fish Market, Dubai

15 June 2015

How to have an adventure away from the skyscrapers, by way of vibrant food stalls, old souks, and traditional architecture

A wonderful, noisy hive of activity, Deira Fish Market and its surrounding streets in Old Dubai have long been the beating heart of the city’s traditional trading district; a multicultural community where generations of disparate nationalities have lived and worked side by side in the markets and souks.

The market itself is a foodie’s – and photographer’s – delight. Once only the stomping ground of savvy residents who snapped up good-quality foodstuffs at rock-bottom prices, Deira Fish Market is now also attracting inquisitive tourists, who revel in the banter of the market’s quick-to-smile fishmongers, butchers and produce sellers.

Occupying by far the largest section of the market, the fishmongers offer a wide selection of fresh fish and crustaceans. Laid out and iced on long tables, the catch of the day is weighed with beautifully traditional weights that resemble antiques before sale to the throngs of customers. Visitors can purchase imported meats and even camel meat from the nearby butchers, while sweet-smelling herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables, including exotic treats such as mangosteens, yams and rambutans, can be sourced from the sellers, who are engulfed by the towering mounds of their hunger-inducing offerings.

Once caught in the shadow of Dubai’s stunningly iconic landmarks, Old Dubai and its fish market are increasingly playing a starring role in visitors’ itineraries, as they offer an eclectic cultural experience, blending Bedouin heritage with Dubai’s place in history as a trading post between Europe and Asia.

Mohamed Somji, founder of Gulf Photo Plus, which runs guided food and photography walks through Deira at night with Frying Pan Adventures, says the market and Old Dubai offer visitors an enthralling insight to the destination. While travellers in Dubai don’t have to go very far to discover iconic buildings and structures in the city, experiencing all that it has to offer means that a visit to its historic areas and fish market are a must.

Somji says: “What is often overlooked are the older areas of Dubai. They give the city another dimension and are a good riposte to critics of Dubai who claim it’s perhaps a little too clinical.

“Old Dubai takes a bit of work but it’s well worth it. I’d say best place to start would be at the Bur Dubai Abra, where there’s a nice and small old souk area around the textile markets. Here, you can actually get off the beaten track and explore the small alleys.

“I would then take an abra, the small ferry boats used for crossing the river, to one of my favourite areas – Deira and its fish market. They’re vibrant, diverse, have a life of their own and will give even a frequent Dubai visitor second thoughts about their perceptions of the city.”

Deira Fish Market is open daily from 5am to 1pm, and 5pm to 11pm. It is adjacent to the Palm Deira Metro station and a short walk from Dubai’s Gold Souk and Spice Souk. gulfphotoplus.com Words and images: Sandra Tinari

Share

 

Related articles