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Deira in Dubai - pros and cons


Page update - Sep 25, 2022

Deira district of the Dubai city is famous for profitable shopping, huge malls, and famous markets of gold, perfume, spices, and much more. But some tourists have other associations, and the district is primarily associated with cheap hotels and tours to the UAE.

Indeed, there are many hotels in Deira - from chic 5-star Hyatt, Sheraton, and Hilton to 2-star and even 1-star hotels. If tourists want to go to Dubai as cheaply as possible, then 95% of the time they end up in Deira. For this reason, we devote a separate review to this district.

Prices and other information on this page were updated in September 2022.

Latest news

In June 2022, a curious new attraction opened in Deira. Several native Emirati owned antique stores on Deira Island (it's an island within the district, the island and the district have the same name) have declared themselves museums. And now they're called the Museum Hub at Souk Al Marfa.

There are thousands of antiques from the country's "pre-oil" era. If you are interested in the history of the UAE and the Gulf, this is a place not to be missed. If NOT interested in history, you better not waste precious time on this "Museum Hub". There are much more interesting places for you in Deira and we will talk about them later on this page.

Where is the Deira district?

In the northeast of the city of Dubai. See the map near where we have shown the location of Deira and other areas of the city. Click on the map to enlarge it to full screen.

Deira stretches along the coast from the border of the Emirate of Sharjah in the northeast to Dubai Creek (a long natural channel, a sea arm) in the southwest. The area is bounded by the coastline to the northwest and the E11 (Sheikh Zayed Road) to the southeast.

Deira looks small on our map, but it only seems small compared to the size of the Dubai City. The area of Deira is about 9.5 square miles (25 square kilometers).

Deira is considered one of the most densely populated areas of the city of Dubai. There are 10 subway stations (7 on the green line and 3 on the red line) located within the area. For the map of the subway, see our review "Dubai Metro".

Deira is part of Old Dubai, the large area around the Dubai Creek Canal. On one side of the canal is the Deira district, on the other side is the Bur Dubai district. Deira has always been the commercial center of the emirate.

Hotels

The Deira district is a record-breaker in the number of hotels. According to official statistics (as of the end of 2021), there are 30,000 rooms (29,726 to be exact) in the area. This is 22% of the total room stock of the city of Dubai.

Deira is an area of record concentration of 3 and 4 star hotels - 11,209 and 10,044 rooms. And on top of that, there are 4,174 rooms in all categories of apartment hotels. Not surprisingly, most tourists looking for an inexpensive vacation end up in Deira.

There are almost no 5-star hotels, only 4,300 rooms. Besides, the prices in these hotels are quite modest (by the standards of the UAE) - USD 100-150 per night. The most famous five-star hotels are Le Meridien, Crowne Plaza, Golden Sands, Jumeirah Creekside, Al Bandar, Rotana, Pullman Dubai Creek, Hyatt Regency.



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Advantages

The first and main advantage is a huge opportunity for shopping.

Deira has always been the shopping center of the Emirate of Dubai and has not lost its importance until now. There are several large shopping malls and famous markets.

Of course, the local malls are a long way from Dubai Mall in terms of size, but their main advantage is in low prices. The big shopping malls in fashionable areas are always overpriced. The assortment in the markets in Deira is wide. See a store window at the jewelry market The Gold Souq in the photo near. Click on the photo to enlarge.

The second advantage is the proximity to the airport.

Dubai International Airport (code: DXB) is located right on the border of the Deira district. You will need either to take a few stops by subway or 10-15 minutes by cab.

The third advantage is the low hotel prices.

If you want to go to Dubai as cheaply as possible, you can find a hotel in Deira for even USD 30-40 dollars a night. You'll get a full double room with air conditioning for this money. The room will not be luxury, but not worse than the rooms in hotels in Egypt or Turkey.

Disadvantages

The first and main disadvantage is the problem of beaches.

There are no first-line hotels with their own beaches in Deira.

An important point to make is that there are Deira Islands near the coast, to which the Deira Island Bridge leads. There are now (September 2022) two hotels with their own beaches on these islands. They are Hotel Riu Dubai 4* and Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai 4*. And now there are several more hotels being built on the island.

But these hotels CANNOT be compared with the hotels in Deira. Firstly, they are very far away - 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the main area, and you have to take a cab from the hotel to the main area. Secondly, these two hotels are "out of the way" with no restaurants or stores nearby. In addition, the prices are from USD 200 to 400 per night. So, all the advantages of the Deira hotels are not relevant to these two hotels. Take a closer look at these hotels, you might like them.

One more thing to note! On the bank of the Creek Canal, there is the Park Hyatt Dubai Hotel. This hotel has its own beach. But, it's not really a beach, it's a pool with a sandy entrance. This pool overlooks the Creek Canal and is separated from the canal waters by a wall. It's hard to describe, you have to see it, see the photo. Does it count as a "private beach"? Is it comfortable? Are you personally satisfied with this option? Decide for yourself.

There is only one public beach called "Mamzar Beach". It has a wild free part and an organized paid part with an entrance fee of 5 dirhams. See our review "What money in Dubai and in the UAE" for the current exchange rates.



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The Mamzar beach is located in the very north of the area, where the subway does not go. You will have to take a cab to the beach, the cost is from 12 to 20 dirhams one way, depending on the distance from the hotel to the beach. Read our review "Taxis in Dubai and the UAE" for the fares and more details. Or you can take the bus C28, if it stops near your hotel.

At such a cost, it is cheaper to take the subway to a public beach in the Jumeirah area, which some experienced tourists do.

Few hotels provide a free bus and entrance to the Mamzar beach. If you want to sunbathe on the beach and swim in the Persian Gulf without overpaying, we recommend you to find such a hotel. We will talk about the Mamzar beach in detail later on this page.

See the map of the Deira district near. The map has important and interesting sites for tourists shown. Click on the map to enlarge it to full screen. Look for the paid and free beaches of Mamzar to the north. The map shows Dubai Metro lines and stations in red and green, and shopping malls, markets, and attractions in blue.

The second disadvantage is transportation.

Deira is quite far from the main attractions of Dubai. If you plan to travel by subway, you will feel comfortable. If you prefer a cab, open your wallet wide.

Deira is separated from the rest of the city by the Dubai Creek Canal. There are 5 roads across it: Al Maktoum Bridge, Pontoon Bridge, Al Garhoud Bridge, Business Bay Crossing and Al Shindagha Tunnel. All of these crossings are tolls, this fee is called "salik", the price is 4 dirhams. For cab rides, the salik is paid by the passenger. That is, 8 dirhams will have to be paid for each trip to other parts of Dubai.

Of course, the amounts are not that big, but let's do the math. Let's say the tourists vacation for 7 days in a hotel in Deira. For those 7 days they took a cab 5 times to the Mamzar beach and 4 times to other parts of Dubai to see the sights. Total overpayment for transportation: 5x35 + 4x8 = 207 dirhams, which is about USD 55. Agree, unpleasant.

The third disadvantage is the composition of the population of Deira.

Some European tourists are afraid of Indians, Pakistanis, Malaysians and Iranians (in the photo on the right, click to enlarge). Europeans feel much more relaxed if they are surrounded by European faces. Europeans in Deira are rare, the Bur Dubai area on the other side of the Dubai Creek Canal is more popular with European tourists and residents.

Deira is often referred to as "Mini-India". No UAE citizens live in this area, it is a place of compact residence for guest workers. Read more about the population of the United Arab Emirates in our review "Citizens and other populations of the UAE".

If you are European and you feel comfortable surrounded by Indians and Pakistanis, welcome to Deira. If this situation is uncomfortable, we advise you to choose another area of Dubai for vacation.

Note that there are no security problems there. Any area of Dubai is safer than London or New York. The index "Crime Index" for Dubai is 16.3 (category "very low"), for London - 53.5, for New York - 49 (category "average"). This statistics data of 2022.

The fourth disadvantage is that there is nothing to do except for shopping.

There is almost nothing to do in Deira. There is only one entertainment complex for children, a couple of parks, and a few places of interest.

The entertainment is particularly bad. The Deira City Centre has the Magic Planet amusement park. There are several attractions, game machines, and a children's maze. The easiest way to get there is by subway, the "Deira City Centre" station. This is the end of the entertainment program in Deira before it begins.



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Mamzar Beach and Park

The only public beach in the district. It is located very inconvenient for tourists - in the northernmost part. You can't get there by subway as the stations are far away.

You can take the C28 bus, which zigzags through Deira. The fare is 3 dirhams. The bus runs at 30 minute intervals. The journey time varies from 20 to 50 minutes depending on the distance from your hotel to the Mamzar beach. The C28 bus is a cheap option, but horrible in terms of time.

And the most comfortable option is a cab. A trip from the hotel to the Mamzar beach will cost 12-20 dirhams, a 10-20 minute journey.

The Mamzar beach is divided into two parts - free and paid.

The free part has no sun beds or umbrellas, there are changing cabins and showers. The quality of these services is not guaranteed as it is a municipal beach.

The paid part called "Mamzar Beach Park" is located on the cape. It is a combination of a park and a beach.

Admission to the park is 5 dirhams. Using the pool - 10 dirhams. Umbrellas and sun loungers - 25 dirhams. There is a restaurant with a small selection of fries and burgers. There is an amphitheater in the center of the park that hosts live concerts. Barbeque can be arranged in the park. Drinking alcohol is prohibited as it is throughout the UAE, read our review "Alcohol laws in the UAE".

On Mondays and Wednesdays, only women and children are allowed in the park.

See our review "Mamzar Beach" for more details.

Markets (Souks)

Deira has four famous markets (souqs) that attract people from all over Dubai and even from neighboring Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah. Each market focuses on a different product. Let us tell you about each one.

The Gold Souk (Jewelry Market)

This is a bestseller among tourists. Do you want to see 10 tons of gold at once? That's how much gold is permanently on the shelves of the more than 300 stores at the Gold Souk.

The imagination of the goldsmiths knows no limits. Crowns, bracelets of all sizes, even real gold dresses, necklaces up to an incredible size, figures of camels, turtles, fish.

To look at the variety of jewelry on the shelves is highly recommended, but you should not buy gold there. Of course, the authorities of Dubai city assure that they strictly control the authenticity of all sold items and constantly conduct inspections. But think about it, to who they will try to sell fake first of all? Of course, a tourist!

Opening hours - from 10 am to 10 pm (10-00 to 22-00).

Read our detailed review "The Gold Market in Dubai".

Deira Fish Market

The variety of Gulf fish there is no less than in the public aquariums. And visiting the market is completely free. Some of the sea creatures sold there even cause a loud shout among tourists, "You're eating them????"

In addition to the large fish section, there is a fruit and vegetable section. You can buy quality dates inexpensively. Read our review "Dates in the United Arab Emirates" about them.

The market works from 5 am till 1 pm and from 5 pm till 11 pm (5-00 to 13-00, 17-00 to 23-00).

There are two fish markets in Deira - Deira Fish Market and New Fish Market. Go to the one closest, there is not much difference between them.

The Spice Souk

They say you can find every spice in the world there. They bring spices from India, Iran, and Pakistan. Iranian saffron is very cheap. The smells in the market are fantastic.

Despite all its flavor, The Spice Souk in Deira is slowly dying. Too much competition from supermarkets is reducing the flow of visitors. Hurry to see it before it closes.

Opening hours are from 10 am to 10 pm (10-00 to 22-00) all days except Fridays. On Friday, the market is open, but there is no point in coming, some of the stores and stalls are not working.

In addition to spices, they sell textiles, incense, hookahs, and souvenirs.

The Perfume Souk

This is not even a market, but rather a large concentration of perfume stores in the area of Sikkat al Khail, Al Soor, and Souk Deira streets.

You can find both traditional Arabic perfumes and international perfume brands there. We don't recommend buying foreign perfumes there as there is a big chance of buying a fake one. The local perfumers can even mix the essences and oils in front of the buyer to create a personalized scent of perfume.

This is the best place to buy bakhoor and oud-based perfumes. Read our review "Agar perfume - bakhoor and oud" about them.

Shopping malls

Deira has four large shopping malls: Deira City Centre, Hamarain Centre, Reef Mall, Al Ghurair Centre.

The biggest of them all is Deira City Centre (pictured near, click to enlarge) with 1,300,000 square feet (121,000 square meters) of retail space. Certainly, it is not comparable to Dubai Mall (350,000 sq.m.), Mall of Emirates (223,000 sq.m.) or Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi (232,000 sq.m.).

The main advantage of Deira malls is not the size, but prices. Prices are cheaper in all stores, except for those where changing prices prohibits the brand itself. Even then, merchants in Deira often violate the price policy and give cheaper, especially if the price is discussed with the seller privately, without extra ears. Traders in the UAE have every opportunity to give low prices as there is only 5% VAT tax (for comparison, it is 20% in the UK). We talked about prices in the UAE in the review "Shopping in the UAE".

Sightseeings

There aren't many of them, nothing amazing, but better than nothing.

Deira Clocktower

The Telegraph, a British newspaper, ranked this clock tower as number 17 on its list of the most beautiful in the world. At night it sometimes illuminates in pink, looking as if it has just been taken out of a Barbie doll's accessory box.

It looks brand new and even a bit futuristic (pictured near, click to enlarge). You wouldn't think it was built in 1964.

To be more specific, the clock was given to Sheikh Rashid by his son-in-law, Sheikh Ahmed of Qatar. The clock was very big and there was no place to put it. Sheikh Rashid commissioned engineer Ziki Homsi to design a monument on which the clock could be placed. That's how the Deira Clock Tower came into being.

Now one of Dubai's symbols, it is a symbol of the UAE's transition into a new era of oil and oil revenues.

Read all the details in our review "The Clock Tower in Deira".

Heritage House Museum

This house was built in 1890 and once belonged to Matar Saeed bin Mazina, a rich pearl merchant. The building was built of coral stone, which was the height of luxury at the time.

In the house, you can see utensils, furniture, household items. See how the wealthy Emirati lived before the oil age. When tourists see this, they ask, "If this is how the rich lived, how did the poor live?"

Dhow Wharfage

At Dhow Wharfage on Dubai Creek, you can see traditional Arabian dhow boats. These boats were once used to transport cargo, as pirate ships, and as mother ships for pearl divers.

The dhows still carry people across the Creek for only 1 dirham per person. You can book an evening stroll with dinner, prices range from 70 to 100 dirhams.

Good and important to know

- If you're going to Deira and choosing a beach, read our review "The Best Beaches in Dubai";

- Read our review "How to get from Dubai airport to the city";

- If you're going to see places of interest in Dubai, read our reviews "How to save money on amusement and water parks in Dubai" and "Excursions in Dubai";

- To stay out of trouble on transportation, choose the best fare and get around Dubai cheaper, read our review "NOL Cards".

Have a great holiday in Deira and read our useful pages about the UAE (see the pages list below).

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