When you arrive in Dubai you are overwhelmed by modernity and the city’s skyscrapers, all built in the last twenty years. A city famous for luxury and the speed with which it has expanded, but if we want to see the neighbourhood where everything that we see in contemporary Dubai probably started, we have to go to Deira.
Deira’s origins date back to the early 1800s; it developed along the canal called Dubai Creek. This saltwater canal separates Deira from Bur Dubai. The canal enabled the area to develop in importance; it facilitated the sea trade, which is still operational today, thanks to the traditional dhow boats which still load and unload hundreds of tons of goods on the canal docks every day.
It reached its peak during the pearl fishing period, before pearls started to be cultivated on a large scale in the early 1900s. The ferrying of people is provided by small boats that constantly go back and forth between the two sides.
Deira today, with its souk, is the place where African, Indian, Pakistani and many other ethnic groups from around the world live and work together. By crossing a road we pass from Nigeria to Pakistan, in just a few metres; the palette of colours and smells is so strong, it gives the traveler the feeling of being in a city far, far away from Dubai. Any object, piece of equipment, item of clothing or electronic item can be found in Deira.
Deira’s fish market is also important in the neighbourhood; vegetables from every corner of the world, fish, meat, chaos… But it’s not for everyone, I wouldn’t recommend it to vegetarians and vegans. The impact is very strong. Hygiene is definitely not a priority in this place.
I recommend you visit Deira from dusk to late at night. At this time you can take interesting and suggestive shots. Stop to eat at typical Iranian, Indian and Ethiopian restaurants, where you can immerse yourself in a different Dubai at very low cost.
You won’t see Ferraris and luxury here, but you will meet those people who are the majority of the population of Dubai – the labourers, traders, people who struggle every day to survive in a city that’s not easy, coming from countries they were forced to flee because of poverty or war.
This too, is Dubai.