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From a tiny fishing village to a prosperous trading port, and then to one of the most iconic cities in the world, the metamorphosis of Dubai has been gradual, yet dramatic. Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers has been here throughout the entire process and so it has seen first hand just how much this city has changed in recent years.
The major part of the Emirate of Dubai consists of rolling sand dunes and the craggy Hajar Mountains in the east. Dubai Creek has played a pivotal role in its development since the time of Dubai's initial growth as a centre for pearl fishing and pearl trade.
The vibrant Creek is considered the most picturesque and enchanting location in Dubai. It offers a glimpse into centuries of fascinating old trading culture, where you can still see traditional Arab dhows gently gliding past the towering skyline. You can go for a relaxing Abra (water taxi) cruise or explore the charming Gold and Spice Souk markets. Or simply soak up some glorious sunshine during the day and a stunning sunset over the Creek on the terrace of our wonderful Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo restaurant.
With its unique location, the hotel is the perfect respite for travellers to immerse themselves in the charms of the old Dubai through the uninterrupted views of the Creek and the city. In the company of its experienced associates, this 5-star hotel welcomes guests to a world of relaxation, world-class dining and connectivity. Located in the heart of Dubai’s heritage, it offers guests the chance to discover the authenticity of traditional Dubai markets, such as the Spice, Gold and Textiles Souks. With the old merchant market of Al Bastakiya and Dubai Museum in close proximity, the choice of cultural activities is very extensive. For those looking for something a bit more active, there are dhow cruises along the Creek, or there are many desert safaris and tours available at the convenience of the Tour Desk.
The Creek, a natural sea-water inlet that cuts through the centre of the city, is the historic focal point of life in Dubai. A stroll along its banks evokes the city’s centuries-old trading traditions.
The old Bastakiya district with its narrow lanes and tall wind-towers gives a tantalising glimpse of old Dubai. Immediately to the east of Al Fahidi Fort is the largest concentration of traditional courtyard houses with wind towers. In the past, the city was famous for a mass of wind towers which lined the Creek on either side. These were not merely decorative; they were the only means of cooling houses in the days before mains electricity. The Bastakiya district has become a small ‘tourist village’ with a museum, a cultural centre, restaurants and an art gallery.
Dating from the late 1800s, Sheikh Saeed’s House was built in a commanding position near the sea so the Ruler could observe shipping activity from its balconies. With its wind towers and layers of rooms built around a central courtyard, it is a fine example of regional architecture.
Situated on the Bur Dubai side of the Creek near the Ruler’s Court, Grand Mosque was re-built in 1998 and now has, at 70 metres, the city’s tallest minaret. It has 45 small domes in addition to nine large ones boasting stained glass panels, making it a distinguished landmark and important place of worship.
Built around 1870, the Nahar tower was one in a line of defences to the east and north of the city. One of three watchtowers guarding the old city, the restored Burj Nahar in its picturesque gardens in Deira is popular with photographers.
Built in 1934 by the late Sheikh Rashid, Bait Al Wakeel was Dubai’s first office building. At the edge of the Creek near the abra landing, the building has been completely restored and now houses a museum devoted to Dubai’s fishing and maritime traditions.
The souks on both sides of the Creek are attractive not just for their shopping bargains, but also as places for sightseeing and photography. A huddle of narrow alleyways has survived on the Deira side despite intensive building in recent years. In the tiny lanes of the Spice Souk, the atmosphere and the scents of the past can be savoured. Bags of spices, incense, rose petals and traditional medicinal products are stacked outside each stall.
Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the Dubai Museum, is another imposing building. It once guarded the city’s landward approaches. Built around 1799, it has served variously as palace, garrison and prison. It was renovated in 1970 for use as a museum; further restoration and the addition of galleries was completed in 1995. Colourful and evocative dioramas, complete with life-size figures and sound and lighting effects, vividly depict everyday life in pre-oil days.
Dominating Bani Yas Square in the heart of Deira is Deira Tower with its distinctive circular ‘cap’. An early example of the effort to blend modern architecture with the older surroundings, Deira Tower incorporates features designed to soften the impact of the harsh summer climate on the occupants of shops, offices and apartments within. Nearby on the Creekside, strong vertical lines ending in arches on the skyline identify Al Owais Tower.
A group of distinctive and remarkable modern buildings are ranged near the purpose-built dhow wharfage beside the Maktoum Bridge, including the Etisalat Tower, the Department of Economic Development, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The National Bank of Dubai headquarters and Dubai Creek Tower.
Located in Jumeirah, the Dubai Zoo is a popular attraction, especially for families. Featured in its large aviary are regional birds of prey. Nine species of large cats and seven species of primates are on show, along with many Arabian mammals.
Situated around Dubai are numerous public parks and gardens offering a peaceful respite from urban life. Particularly popular with families, they offer attractive picnic spots and children’s play areas with a variety of entertainment facilities. The largest of the city’s parks are Jumeirah Beach Park (closed until end of 2016), Dubai Creekside Park, Mushrif Park, Al Mamzar Beach Park (free shuttle service provided) and Safa Park, while many smaller ones throughout the city provide a pleasant green oasis.
For fishing trips and fishing sports and water sports please call Sky & Sea Adventures at +971 4 399 9005.
Ski Dubai is located at the Mall of the Emirates. For further details please visit www.skidxb.com
Please contact Jebel Ali Golf & Resort at +971 4 883 6555 for further details.
For additional information on things to do in Dubai as recommended by our loyalty programme, Starwood Preferred Guest®, please click here.