Time Out takes a tour of Karama and discovers some of the more character-filled streets in Dubai
Karama has nothing if not character – by the noisy, colourful and neon-lit street-load. Home to many of the city’s original Indian and Filipino expats, early Karama settlers arrived decades ago and continue to live in the area’s rent-only apartments today. In fact, it’s one of the most densely populated areas in Dubai, despite the lack of towering skyscrapers.
So why do they stay? Other than the rent-controlled accommodation (often around Dhs30,000 per year for a two-bed fl at), perhaps it’s to do with the fact they can walk out of their front doors directly to some of the best and cheapest Indian food in the city. Or maybe it’s the trio of malls (Lamcy Plaza, BurJuman and City Centre) that flank the area – or its close proximity to Dubai Airport, the Post Offi ce and a host of decent schools.
Or, just maybe, it’s the area’s strong sense of community – evident every night in Karama Park, where kids and adults of all ages come to play and shoot the breeze. In short, Karama’s Arabic translation – ‘dignity’ – seems to suit the neighbourhood pretty well indeed.
1 Time Cafe: Located among a cluster of top restaurants and bars near Maktoum Bridge, Time Café offers more than your usual sports bar (and not just the fact it’s a café too). First up, it’s huge. Sprawling, in fact. Secondly, it has four pool tables, a mini-golf putting green, a darts board and a separate function room for karaoke and parties. A dining area serves decent meat and fi sh dishes on the other side of the bar, while two projectors and several fl at screens show a variety of sports (cricket, football, racing, boxing – even netball, if you ask nicely) for sports fans. The place is a favourite among locals who like to shoot pool and then dance to the live band that regularly performs here too. Ramee Hotel, 04 352 2277, near Maktoum Bridge
2It's Mirchi: This Indian restaurant turns into a hot dancing club post-midnight. Literally – it heaves with regulars on weekends who just can’t get enough of the Indian desi music or the occasional late-night karaoke sessions. Ramee Hotel, 04 352 2277, near Maktoum Bridge
3 Karachi Darbar: Located in the Karama shopping blocks, this Pakistani restaurant is famed for its spicy, tasty food served in great quantities at very low prices: a scrumptious plate of chicken biryani costs just Dhs10 and feeds two hungry people. Karama Shopping Complex, 04 334 7272
4 Snooker Point: The joint of choice for Karama’s veterans, for years Snooker Point has remained one of the area’s most dominant entertainment hubs. It houses, naturally, a large area for snooker, which is generally silent as players focus on their shots. Elsewhere, there are billiards and foosball tables, along with pinball machines and music. Recently, a network games section has been added to the entertainment bounty, allowing people to play games and watch movies for an hourly fee. 04 334 1551, near Al Nasr Cinema
5 Exit restaurant and Cafe: An excellent spot for coffee and shisha, Exit is open until 2am, but is fairly busy at all Neighbourhood guide hours after 4pm. Most customers play board games, cards or press away at the touch-screen game units placed generously all over the shop. 04 334 4008, nr Al Nasr Cinema
6 Karama Park: Karama Park is relatively tiny compared to the big daddies: Safa, Mamzar and the rest. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t got its own charm. Most evenings it’s crowded with parents taking their children to play while they relax and watch over them. Opposite LuLu Centre
7 Karama Shopping Complex: Around Karama Shopping Complex, (otherwise known as Dolce and Karama), it’s nigh on impossible to walk about without someone shouting ‘DVD! Gucci watches! Prada handbags!’ directly in your face. But bear with them. Whatever you’re after, you can fi nd it (or something freakishly similar) if you look hard enough. Just remember to haggle, and not to mention where you nabbed your buys to all those label freak mates of yours. Near LuLu Centre
8 Galaxy Sports: Do not be deceived by the size of this store. It may be small, but it houses the best sporting goods to be found anywhere in Karama. It’s often crowded with sports enthusiasts, gazing longingly at professional cricket helmets, bats and pads or football gear. Karama Shopping Complex, 04 336 5462