Thursday, April 06, 2006
The magic's gone.
I’m really sad that Dubai's old gold souk has changed so much.
It used to be one of the wonders of the world – especially back in the seventies when I first came to Dubai. It had the same number of shops, but they were smaller and less modern, the street was mainly sand and the roof was barasti. The whole focus was the gold itself, and every shop was crammed with the exotic traditional Arabic and Indian designs plus more modern Italian designs for the chains and bracelets.
Even after the rebuilding, it retained the atmosphere and the jewellery stayed the same.
But then came the hordes of tourists, especially Brits and Europeans on cheap shopping expeditions. And that’s what’s changed it. Now half the shops look like the High Street shops in any British town with row after row of boring small solitaire diamond rings.
The traditional gold jewellery has gone out to the older shopping areas like Satwa and around Al Fahidi Street. You still see groups of them side by side but it isn’t the same as 130 or so crammed together in a dusty narrow souk, windows ablaze with the most amazing jewellery. No matter how many times I wandered around it in the evening, I never tired of doing it.
Now, well, it just doesn't have the magic.