I really like Deira, crowds of Pakistanis, Indos, streets full of small shops, shops, restaurants. This place lives 24/7, most in the evening. But most of my experiences come from local hotels and I will now share some of them with you. Maybe you will be tempted to visit it on your own.
Baniyas Square – here you can find a lot of hotels, there is a metro, so you can easily reach this destination. There are streets with lots of flashing shops. It is interesting especially in the evening and walking to the local souks takes only several minutes. You can also go for a boat that will take you to the other bank of the river for only 1 AED.
I’ll talk more about the hotels in Baniyas Square. There are a few hotels where there are shops right by the entrance and a lot of crazy things like massage chairs, etc. Some of those hotels have bars and discos inside. A lot of bars have a variety of shows, such as a bar where you can have a beer and see dancing Indo-ladies in their traditional clothes on a stage. Fairly crazy and boring to be honest, because the ladies are not professional dancers, they’re just regular girls trying to fill playing music with some moves, but it’s worth seeing. On the second visit, they’ll be waving at you. I would say many travellers don’t visit such places twice.
Discos – In the evening many sellers seek entertainment there and some (I do not know the nationality) have the habit of taking a stack of banknotes and throw them on the floor while dancing. Employees in their vicinity start crawling and collecting the money for their own use. And this process repeats almost for the whole night. On discos, there is almost always the opportunity to sit down and have a little smoke in the form of a water pipe.
By the way, hotels are the places where you can have alcohol, but it is usually pretty expensive, for example, the price of a single beer is around 60 AED, you may be lucky and find a better price, but don’t count on it. I usually have a beer and enjoy the atmosphere of the place for an hour, plus you usually get a snack free snack (if you buy a beer).
I’ve seen there a coffee shop owned by African girls. There was an incredible mess inside, but I got coffee in a beautiful clay mug. The girls were glad that somebody came and so they talked with me a little bit and in the meantime, they were shouting something at African guys going around their enterprise. I asked them if they had in their offer something to eat and they pointed at a cake on the ground, surrounded by a terrible mess. Let me tell you one thing: I didn’t eat there.
You can find a lot of shops offering everything they sell for 1-5 AED in Deira. Such shops are full of futility and crazy clothes, but some things they sell might have practical use. For example, if you need some cheap things for your stay. Each store is illuminated and blinking. When you see the prices, you admire the people who actually invest in repairing such places. There is a lot of small shops where people repair shoes, clothing and electronics for you. It is the other face of Dubai that is not only for the rich.
You can eat there quite cheaply. There are a lot of stands selling kebabs, a variety of Afghan, Iranian restaurants with great prices. Don’t be afraid to walk through even the smallest streets, there is no danger. But if you are a woman, beware of the local men, they are far from their families and loved ones, that stayed in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries, and may want to “get to know you”, if you know what I mean (all in a non-violent way). But do not worry all that much.
People from Pakistan, India, Philippines, Bangladesh and other countries belong to this country, there is a majority of them. There are not many people coming from Emirates. We talked to a taxi driver who told me that he works 12 hours a day, 7 days in a week, no day off and his job brings him around 700 USD monthly.
He was incredibly happy that he has such a job. Most workers often live around Dubaj in a small mobile houses, construction workers almost always live in such a thing, they get some basic food and water, but they are happy to work here and they are the very important essence of Dubai and all the Emirates. However, some of them get somehow the energy to live their nightlife; they come to Deira for food (usually a very inexpensive bistro where they get a pile of rice with a little pieces of meat).
In Deira you can try lots of restaurants that are very authentic, whether they are Philippine restaurants (that I recommend), Indian restaurants where you get your food on a banana leaf, Afghan or Iranian (I love Iranian sweets).
There is a lot of shops and restaurants there because they represent a chance for a lot of people to live here. If somebody starts a business in the Emirates, they can also employ another people, and those employed people have a job and thus can live in the Emirates. Most of the time there is a shop with entrance right to the street and behind the house or in the lower part of it live all its employees. Such shops are mostly open 24/7.
If you plan to visit Dubai to see its beauty, buildings, sea and luxury shopping centres, this is not the part of it that you want to visit, but if you like to travel, you can find interesting things here and spend two nice evenings there.