Tour Locations | Tales of the Past: Tracing Dubai’s origins in Deira
LOCATION 22 | Tales of the Past: Tracing Dubai’s origins in Deira
Farewell at Dubai Gold Souk
This is where our tour ends. But let us give you a quick rundown on the Gold Souk first. Feel free to browse its dazzling displays while you listen.
Over 400 merchants now ply their trade here, and many of the shops have remained in the same family’s hands for decades, just like they have at the Spice Souk.
Dubai’s geographic location makes it one of the global gold trade’s most important hubs. That’s because it’s close to countries with some of the world’s largest markets for gold – especially India, the largest, which is also a centre for jewellery manufacturers. There’s China too. It’s the second largest market for gold and the world’s largest gold producer. A number of African countries are important gold producers too.
But it’s that first country that is most important, and it’s worth pausing for a moment to consider India’s relationship with UAE. After all, the countries’ two economies are so intricately linked that they used to share a currency.
Even if you exclude oil, trade between Dubai and India totalled almost 100 billion dirhams in 2017. That’s well over 25 billion US dollars. And of this, jewellery and precious stones account for half. Yes, that’s right: half.
Gold is Dubai’s single biggest export to India, and we’ve come a long way since the arduous dhow trips across the Arabian Sea of 100 years ago.
You can actually get a practical experience of the relationship here. Just ask a vendor about the difference between Emirati and Indian jewellery. Omani designs are popular too, as are plenty of others, from all over the world.
But pretty jewellery doesn’t capture the importance of the gold trade here, which now adds up to about one third of Dubai’s entire economy. In fact, about 20 per cent of the world's gold stocks pass through the emirate every year.
It's also a place where you can get a bargain, without ever worrying about whether the gold you’ve bought is genuine or not. Even if you’re not here to buy, spend some time taking in the extravagant displays is an essential Dubai experience.
I’ll leave you with one suggestion and one challenge.
My suggestion is simple: ask a merchant to show you the jewellery local brides wear at their wedding. You’ll be amazed by all the intricacies. There’s Al Morta’sha, the small chains worn around the neck, with pearls on each end. Then there’s Al Rayash, a beautiful hair accessory, and the impressive Satami, a necklace of gold coins that reaches all the way down the waist. Emirati weddings are a dazzling affair!
My challenge is more complicated: can you find the heaviest necklace in the Gold Souk? Be warned! There are a lot of worthy contenders.
I’ll leave you on that glittering note. I hope you enjoyed learning all about Dubai’s humble beginnings, here in Deira.
Do visit our website VisitDubai.com for further tales of the past, and more inspiration for what to do during your stay in Dubai. We’d love to see all your adventures - share your stories with us on Instagram, Facebook and other social channels. Just use the hashtag MyDubai as you go along.
If you're looking for public transport, you have a few options.
You can go all the way through this covered section of the market, and then turn left after you exit it, through another wooden archway. That’ll take you back towards the abra station, where we started this walk.
Or you could turn right at the end of the covered market instead, which will take you back to Al Khor Street. Turn left there, and you’ll find yourself at Al Ras Metro Station. It’s about 500 metres away.
Otherwise, you'll find plenty of taxis around, to get you to your next destination. Just flag one down by the kerb.
We hope you've enjoyed the journey into our city's history and we wish you a pleasant stay in Dubai!