The gold and spice markets (called “souks”) in downtown Deira are comprised of several narrow, dusty alleyways. This area is one of the last remaining spots in the city where visitors can get a taste of old (pre-oil) Dubai, and find things one can’t get back home. Dress down (leave your jewelry at home and stick to jeans, khakis and t-shirts) and saunter the Gold Souk at Sikkat al-Khali Street for 18-, 22- and 24-karat bracelets, necklaces and earrings sold by weight. Do your homework: Learn the going gold rates and craftsmanship charges and bring along a talented bargainer to ensure you’re getting a deal.
Steps away, on Al-Sabkha Road, sample the delicious dried fruit, figs and nuts of the Spice Souk, and purchase cinnamon, cloves, saffron and more from chatty shopkeepers’ bulky open sacks. The minute you exit your taxi, you’ll be approached by several solicitors who will tell you they’re selling “Louis Vuitton, Prada, Rolex and Cartier” right around the corner. Of course, this is all counterfeit merchandise, and it’s never “right around the corner.” Avoid talking to these men, who will often lead you down winding roads, into buildings and up staircases to dirty offices, putting travelers in an unsafe situation (not to mention a bad bargaining position).