Dubai, the tiny emirate on the Arabian Gulf, has transformed itself in the last dozen years into one of the most extraordinary sights on earth. Everything here is bigger, better, faster than just about anywhere else (Shanghai might disagree).
Just out my hotel window the Burj Dubai is under construction and recently reached its 84th floor. On completion it will be the world’s tallest building. At its foot, the world’s largest shopping mall is under construction. Both these projects, like another few dozen in the near vicinity, have construction workers on site 24/7. To some extent, this unbelievable boom seems like classic bubble madness. But I have to smile and shake my head in wonder at the extremity of the Emiratis audacity.
Still, bigger, better and more expensive is not my idea of a good time. I’ve heard people boast that Dubai is “Las Vegas on steriods”, but I’ve never had any interest in Las Vegas (and Dubai of course lacks a crucial Las Vegas element — gambling). So what should I do?
Tonight, with two of my colleagues, I hopped in a taxi to go to the spice souk. That sounded good. Only our taxi driver had no idea where he was going. So he dropped us off at the silk souk. Fine, we had a good time looking around that. We were determined, however, to find the spice souk. It turned out to be on the other side of “the creek“, the waterway that divides the old heart of Dubai City (the big modern developments are clustered in other areas).
So we hopped on one of the small wooden ferries that traverse the creek regularly. I think we were as much of a sight for the other passengers as they were for us.
When we got to the spice souk, we found some fun things. I don’t think I’d ever seen turmeric in non-ground form before. It’s quite lovely. Even more fun, we were willingly lured up a nondescript stairway in one of the souk’s alleys to look at bags and watches. Not authentic, needless to say. But extraordinarily good rip-offs at extraordinarily good prices. A good time was had by all.