Dubai: In with the Old

Photographer and freelance journalist Flash Parker recently traveled to the United Arab Emirates’ most glittering jewel: Dubai.

Go back to read Part 1, Dubai: The Electric Caterpillar

FlashParker Dubai_1146After pulling my head out of the clouds I was whisked out of the future and into the past and immersed in the Old Dubai I otherwise would have never known. Our first stop was the Bastakiya Quarter, where dozens of old buildings, many dating from the late 19th Century, have been painstakingly restored – art galleries, cafes, and quaint restaurants live on in these spaces, a busy little labyrinth sectioned off by the Dubai Creek and the perpetually buzzing Bur Dubai Quarter. We fished for Middle Eastern art at the Majlis and XVA Galleries, wandered the textile and spice souks, and settled into an abra water taxi for a cruise along the Creek, where we whipped past the stunning Jumeirah Mosque, one of the largest in the UAE (and one of the few open to non-Muslim visitors), and apartments, shops and towers that teeter precariously over the water’s edge. We wandered through the exhibits at the Dubai Museum, housed in the old al-Fahidi Fort, and whistled past ancient wind towers, royal palaces, and more luxury cars than I’ve seen any place else in my life, proof that even in Old Dubai, the future races forward.

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In the dazzling Gold Souk I spent more time bartering than buying, and wandered in and out of some of Dubai’s most atmospheric old warrens, where I was greeted by an endless cabal of friendly local fellas, some eager to sell me souvenirs, and others just keen on having a chat with a foreign fellow. I would have come away bejeweled like Mr. T had I not exercised a bit of self-restraint; the government ensures that all gold, silver and diamonds sold at the souk are of top quality, though I can’t vouch for the half-dozen “genuine replica” Rolex watches I picked up for a song and dance from the young guys plying their trade in the alleyways. Dubai’s souks each have their own unique character; some, like the Gold Souk, revel in the hustle and bustle of mad-cap consumerism, while destinations like the Fish Market have an old world charm that is wholly captivating. The most surprising aspect of a visit to Dubai is the immersible cultural attractions – perfectly capped during the Arabian Adventures Moonlight Sonata, a Dhow dinner cruise set among the bright lights of The Creek. The city shimmers at night, and the cruise serves as the perfect opportunity to capture unique travel photos in an ephemeral setting.

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Continue to Part 3, Dubai: All that Glitters

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Flash Parker
Flash Parker

I am currently studying to become a wilderness survival expert in the same tradition as Paul Bunyan, though my beard has yet to mature, and blue ox are less common than they once were. My graduate thesis is titled “Grizzly Wrestling, Turtle Surfing, and the Art of Moose Poop Chandling.” To make ends meet, I moonlight as a writer, photographer, and photojournalist.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, I spend most of my days on the road, though I escape to the Wyoming wilderness as often as I can. My work has been published by Afar, Outside Magazine, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast, Canadian Living, USA Today, Get Lost Magazine, GQ Magazine, Asian Geographic, Escape Magazine, Voyeur Magazine, Groove Magazine, Reader’s Digest, American Cowboy, and more.

I have eaten everything from fermented shark to gold-flecked caviar, climbed mountains 20,000 feet tall, kissed a reef shark on the nose, and once hung by my ankles for a peek over Victoria Falls as ten million gallons of water rushed around me. This is my life, and this is what I do in the name of the story.

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