From our early morning flight on a Friday, we went straight from the airport to Souq Waqif. Maybe you’re wondering why we chose to put the souq first in our itinerary knowing that it’s a Friday and based on our own experience in Dubai, souqs usually open late. Well, the initial plan was to take photographs with less crowd as the architecture in itself is already a beauty. Lo and behold, Souq Waqif’s “life” isn’t dictated by the sun.
The cab dropped us in front of a boutique hotel. The place was quiet and looked deserted. We wandered aimlessly until we found a sikka filled with small shops left and right. As we walk further, it gets noisier and noisier – welcome to Al Hamam Market! At the time we arrived, there’s a man on a microphone speaking continuously. Of course, it’s in Arabic that’s why we couldn’t understand. We just realized that it was an auction for birds when we saw that some more white-dressed guys were gathering around falcons and other birds. In the next few minutes, we saw hoards of guys coming – adults and kids alike, all of them carrying boxes and cages of birds, rabbits and other animals.
We walked to the covered part of the souq and reached what looks like the spice market. Men in white and maroon vest were all over the place. By the looks of it, shop keepers have a uniform over here. Neat!
These men were staring at us curiously and I was 50% freaked, so we left and wandered some more. About 60% of the shops were closed but there were enough number of people to say that the souq was quite busy.
We reached the dining strip of the souq and wow, there was quite a lot of restaurants to choose from – French, Italian, Moroccan, Indian, etc On this side we saw a lot of expats, most of them Westerners. We stopped on a Lebanese joint where we had a nice and quick breakfast.
Also along this dining strip is a gallery called Souq Waqif Arts Center. It features art exhibits and courses, plus lovely dining options.
As we walk further, we reached the Falcon Souq and found this building that actually says: Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital. As the name suggests, it’s a hospital dedicated to falcons. Say whut!
Then we saw a big gate and reached a big horse stable! Truly, this souq surprised us big time.
Found a dead-end so we went back to the other side of the road. We entered sikka after sikka and before we know it, we’re already lost. Take note, these sikkas usually do not get natural light so in some areas, it was really, really dark. By the time we reached the Handicraft Center, we bid Souq Waqif goodbye.