Dubai has always been a place for people to meet, transact and create new stories - where migrant desert tribes and coastal fishermen met traders from around the world.
With traditions of poetry harking back to the 8th century, Dubai’s cultural attractions have survived its meteoric rise to the top table of 21st century smart cities. High-rises and first-world comfort sits in easy juxtaposition with the restored Bastakiya and Shindagha areas that still introduce travellers to how people lived decades ago.
The Dubai creek is where many of the city’s unique stories started. The waterway bifurcates the city into old Deira, and Bur Dubai. It was on the banks of creek that the first souks sprung up, trading spice, scent, and fabric.
Today, a walk down the sides of the creek still shows evidence of this heritage. Wooden boats are still taking passengers from bank to bank. The spice and textile and the textile souk that first sprung into existence decades ago are still bustling.
Dubai’s indigenous people are called Emiratis. Their distinctive white thobes (for men) and black sheilas (for women) are distinct and easily recognizable. While they may have left the desert life behind to assume the highest positions in government, business and innovative tech startups, their connection with their soil remains strong. Falconry – once a hunt necessary for survival– is now a celebration that pits man and bird against desert conditions.
Dubai’s heritage is stored for posterity, but its culture is ever-changing as the city absorbs the stories of the millions that visit every year and becomes a melting pot for the world.