Mumbai Memoir 101- ‘Golden Memories’ at Dubai’s Gold Souk
As I walked from the Al-Ras Greenline Metro station towards the market area of Deira I felt like a fish in water, as Dubai’s Deira area is a hustling bustling market place, which very much reminded me of Crawford Market area, in my home town Mumbai. The last activity on my Dubai trip itinerary was touring the ‘Gold Souk’ located in Deira market. ‘Souk’ is an Arabic word meaning ‘market’ or ‘bazaar’. Traditionally most of the market places across Arab countries are in an open area where customers walk through the narrow labyrinths to buy all what is been offered. Disney’s Aladdin movie beautifully depicts what an open market looks like as Aladdin & Jasmine fly on the magic carpet. Well, I wish I had a magic carpet to fly through all the various market places in the Deira area, so that I could swiftly check out so many varieties of goods that the precinct has to offer. But due to limitation of time (I was leaving Dubai that evening) and energy I just thought of visiting the ‘Gold Souk’ which is a major international tourist attraction in Deira.
The ‘Gold Souk’ is a labyrinth of covered walkways where retail merchants sell gold, platinum, diamonds and other precious stones. During early 20 century a lot of Indian and Iranian gold merchants opened shop in the then blooming Deira area and now their next generation run their family business. Majority of the retailers sell gold and the gold-oriented visual merchandise that is displayed at the shops, captures one’s attention in a mesmerizing way. It’s like a ‘festival of gold’ being celebrated in all directions at the souk from 10am to 10pm (Monday to Thursday) and 4pm to 10pm (Friday). The Iranian bridal gold jewellery, a gold neck tie, a turtle made up of gold and the world’s heaviest ring displayed at a jeweller’s shop impressed me the most. Since there is government tax relaxation on sales of Gold, the pricing is done based on the purity of gold (24, 22, 20 & 18 Karat) & the labour charges. The per gram weight cost of gold varies daily but one can bargain at the shop and bring down the cost by 30% also! Since the labour charges of various retailers vary, customers can haggle with the sellers and get a good deal on their gold purchase. Here’s a video to get a glimpse of Dubai’s Gold Souk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu-ShtaiPYk
As I closely looked at the ‘gold art’ around I missed my mom as she is a BIG fan of Gold and as a professional she understands all the nitty gritty of purchasing gold. So as a travel memento, I purchased a raw rectangular piece of gold, as a gift to my mom. Admiring the gold piece in my hand, as I bid good-bye to Dubai’s Gold Souk, I looked up at the sky and was amazed of the fact that how a metal which was once created in a neutron-star collision in the astronomical galaxies above, now sits in my hand!