We arrived in Dubai at 5.30 in the morning, luckily we were able to secure an early check-in at our hotel, and although our room is not ready, we are able to sit and have some much needed food and coffee as well as be treated to some beautiful views of the city from the pool deck.
It is 10 am and already it is above 30C when we enter the Spice Souq, located near Dubai Creek. We arrive just after the market opened so while there are a number of people bustling around, it has not reached peak hour. It is obvious that we are tourists and immediately the hawkers descend upon us, yelling out that they will give us the best deal, the best pashmina, the best spices. It is quite overwhelming at first, but after a time we get used to firmly saying no.
The Souq is most definitely a feast for the senses, with soft pashminas in every colour imaginable while the variety of spices on offer is an aromatic overload. Spices and teas are piled high outside each stall, and the owners are more than happy for you to touch and smell everything.
One of the best experiences, is that each stall holder will quiz you on your spice knowledge, pointing at different spices and asking you to identify them. By the time you get to the end you know all the answers (those strange looking round things are dried and blackened lemons) I feel like I could go on MasterChef now and give Gary a run for his money.
As well as spices, there is a large amount of herbal teas available for purchase at the Spice Souq, including beautifully fragrant hibiscus, lavender and rose.
I was impressed with how each stall holder gave advice on how to use each spice without being pushy about making a sale and contributed to the overall good experience that we had.
On the other end of the spectrum was the part of the Souq that sold pashminas and watches. Here you will find people will chase you down waving a pashmina at you. One man actually hooked a pashmina over my head…unfortunately not a pleasant experience and one which detracts from the beauty of seeing these products. At end of the day though, this is their job and should not deter you from visiting.
If you do intend to visit, I recommend going in early as we did so that you miss the crowds. My second piece of advice is to barter, as negotiation is expected.