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Al Souq, Dubai

22 November 2015

For a glimpse into the beating heart of Dubai, a trip to the newly renovated Al Souq at Umm Suqeim 2 Fishing Harbour is a must.

Gazing across the blue waters as the yachts and fishing dhows meander past, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re on the French Rivera when lounging waterside at Dubai’s Al Souq.

Peaceful and charming, it offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. Tucked away in the shadows of the Burj Al Arab, the newly renovated souk features small boutique stores, waterside cafes, and the odd hidden Dubai gem.

Located within the residential area of Umm Suqeim 2, the souk is perched within a quiet marina between an expansive public swimming beach and a working fishing harbour, which sees traditional dhows dock daily with their haul from the Arabian Gulf.

The French-inspired Le Petit Cafe and Mini Yammy dominate marina-side dining, especially for weekend breakfasts. With a Parisan-style interior, a small upstairs terrace and a large alfresco seating area on the waterfront, it offers healthy dining, fresh fruit juices, coffees and sumptuous cakes – the cafe’s red velvet cake and carrot cake are particularly in demand. Mini Yammy, a popular creperie, is a bright, quaint cafe that also enjoys a large outdoor eating area.

For more substantial meals, you can find Al Jalboot, Kalamar, the Italian Pizzaro with its large upstairs terrace, Meat Me There with its American-style food and burgers, as well as Origami Sushi for a taste of contemporary Japanese.

The more active and adventurous hire jet skis or enjoy a fishing tour with the numerous boats moored in the marina. Others enjoy a morning jog along the city’s newest beachside running track, which passes by the souk’s entrance.

Indoors, small art galleries, a kite surfing and paddle boarding store and tourist shops provide retail therapy, while small coffee shops provide the staple of every marina the world over – ice cream.

With fisherman repairing their well-worn nets and the city’s much-loved fish shack, Bu Qtair, across the road, Al Souk is what Dubai does best: beaches and a vibrant, eclectic mix of local eateries and upmarket cafes, where residents, tourists and fisherman go about their daily lives in harmony.

Small and quaint, Al Souk might not be the South of France – it’s way too eclectic for that – but it offers a quiet glimpse into beachside life in the city, not to mention the perfect spot for an early morning coffee. The Arabian Riviera, perhaps?

Words and Images: Sandra Tinari

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