Dubai // Sheikh Zayed Road and Downtown Dubai //

Old Town

On the far side of the Dubai Fountain, directly in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, is the chintzy Old Town development: a low-rise sprawl of sand-coloured buildings with traditional Moorish styling. The overall concept, with a soaring futuristic tower placed next to a cod-Arabian village with waterways, is effectively a blatant copy of the Madinat Jumeirah/Burj al Arab concept, except not quite as impressively done. The centrepiece of the development is the Souk al Bahar (“Souk of the Sailor”), a small, Arabian-themed mall specializing in traditional handicrafts and independent fashion, though it feels rather underpowered after the excesses of the neighbouring Dubai Mall. A string of restaurants line the waterfront terrace outside, offering peerless views of Burj Khalifa – although they tend to get absolutely rammed after dark, and none is of any particular culinary distinction. On the far side of the Souk al Bahar stands the Old Town’s opulent showpiece hotel, The Palace, its rich Moorish facade offering a surreal but quintessentially Dubaian contrast with the needle-thin outline of the Burj Khalifa rising imperiously behind.

More about Dubai

20% off ebooks

Subscribe to the Rough Guides newsletter and get 20% off any ebook.

Join over 50,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month.