Deira area guide

Places to eat, drink and things to do north of the river

Once the commercial centre of the city, Deira may have lost its status to the likes of DIFC, but the area still plays a major part in Dubai’s trading industry. Along this side of the Dubai Creek, you’ll find dozens upon dozens of dhows loading and unloading goods, bound for Africa and India. The area is also one of the most densely populated in the emirate and everywhere from the souks to the streets is consistently abuzz with activity.

Al Naif Road
Head away from the Creek to the junction of Naif Road and Al Sabkha Road to find yourself in the heart of a lively Old Dubai neighbourhood. It’s best to visit at dusk, or after dark, when the area’s neon signs flash and blink all at once, competing for your attention as you peruse cheap electronics and clothes, take in the scents of bargain Indian and Pakistani cuisine and chickens roasting in large glass-clad ovens on the street.
Naif Road and Al Sabkha Road (no number).

China Sea

It might seem a strange idea to head here for Chinese cuisine, but this is among the best places to grab an authentic meal in the city at a sliver of the prices in the city’s five-star spots. Run and frequented by Chinese expats, don’t expect to find your favourite takeaway dishes on the menu – this restaurant is the real deal, fried duck bones, marrow and all.
Al Maktoum Road (04 295 9816).

Day to Day

Pick up affordable gifts and essentials, from electronics to toiletries, plus souvenirs, hair accessories and even wigs. Got a kids’ party coming up? This is an ideal spot to pick up favours to fill cute little bags for mini guests to take home with them.
Near Al Nasser Square (04 228 4843).

Dubai Creek
Take a stroll down the Deira side of the Creek for a peek at the cargo – and don’t expect to find any shipping containers here, everything goes in cardboard boxes, tarpaulin or nothing at all. From crates of fruit juices to bicycles, refrigerators to cars, the array of goods is always surprising. Be sure to stop for a snack at the kiosk near the main RTA abra and water taxi station, where you can grab a samosa or a plate of spicy chickpeas and get change from Dhs5. Remember to take your camera.
Baniyas Road (no number).

Fish Market
Sitting between Shindagha tunnel and the Gold Souk, Dubai’s biggest fish market is as busy today as it ever was. With work underway on a new facility, head down now to explore a major part of Dubai’s recent history before it closes for good. While there buy fresh produce caught that very morning off the UAE’s coast. We recommend visiting first thing in the morning to get the best picks.
Near Gold Souk (no number).

Gold Souk

A glittering haven of intricately crafted Indian gold, Dubai’s most famous souk sells everything from bangles to tiaras, elaborate rings to bespoke nameplate necklaces in English or Arabic script. Trading mainly in 24kt, don’t expect to find the cheap stuff here, though do be prepared to haggle – prices are set to gold market levels twice daily, but there is always room to negotiate a discount, particularly if you’re buying several pieces.
Off Al Khor Street (no number).

Spice Souk

Follow your nose from the Gold Souk to discover tiny alleyways lined with sacks full of fresh spices from all around the region. Pick up cardamom and star anise, saffron and cinnamon, cumin, coriander and so much more.
Between Baniyas Road and Al Khor Street
(no number).

Fast facts

• Deira City Centre was the busiest Metro Station in Dubai during the first half of 2014, with 3,261,835 users.

• Deira is home to Dubai’s only Pearl Museum. Located inside the Emirates NBD headquarters, visits are available by appointment only.

• The RTA has revealed that more than 7,500 streets across the city are to be renamed, of which more than 500 have already been changed. In Deira and Bur Dubai, streets will be given historical and heritage names.

Also visit…

This small ’hood sits between Dubai International Airport, Deira and the Creek, and is home to some of the city’s oldest hotels and pubs.

The Dubliner’s
A superbly simple take on an old Irish pub, this Garhoud hangout has been a stronghold of long-time expats for years. With sports screened regularly, hearty grub and an entirely unpretentious setting, Dubliner’s puts punters right at ease.
Le Méridien Village, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Airport Road (04 217 0000).

The Irish Village
Another street, another take on the Irish pub. A stalwart of old Dubai drinking, The IV – as it is known – is almost as popular with those holidaying in the city as those who live here. From September onwards, this place really comes into its own, particularly in the evenings when the large patio overlooking a pond is thronged with punters enjoying the warm night air with a cold drink.
Next to Dubai Tennis Stadium (04 239 5000).

This old school Thai restaurant may not always be heaving, but the slightly crooked interiors boast bags of character, which make it just a little too charming to resist. Grab a bottle of Asian hops and tuck into a mountain of pad Thai goong sod (just don’t look at the nutritional content, which the menu advertises as almost 1,100 calories a plate – yikes!).
Le Méridien Village, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Airport Road (04 217 0000).

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