Walking, Eating & Photographing Our Way Around Old Dubai
You either live to eat or eat to live – I’m definitely in the first camp – I love food and everything surrounding mealtimes, from the chat around the table to sharing new tastes and flavours. Something else I love? Walking. And I don’t do enough of it (from the car to school, around the supermarket, sometimes through a mall). I used to walk EVERYWHERE in London – fab for the soul (and perfect for building up an appetite!). The Frying Pan Adventures walking trails of Dubai are a great way to combine food with walking and discovering a side to Dubai that goes beyond the skyscrapers and malls – and their latest edition, Old Dubai: Ramadan Walk & Iftar is one of the best things I’ve ever done in our beautiful desert city.
In collaboration with Gulf Photo Plus (the region’s largest photographic community), the tour – led by the super amazing Arva, a foodie, blogger, food writer and seeker of that must-find ‘hole in the wall’, took us through the winding streets of Ghubaiba, one of Dubai’s oldest neighbourhoods, to observe sunset and the call to prayer at the end of a fasting day before joining the many workers who make our city tick for Iftar.
Usually buzzing with activity and noise, the street was magically quiet in that hour before sunset as people quietly went about their preparation for prayer and Iftar, setting the streets for a communal meal, chatting quietly in groups, sitting cross-legged in meditation and helping in the delivery of food to the area’s many mosques. If you’re a keen photographer then these old areas of Dubai lend themselves totally to capturing some beautifully emotive images, and, if you ask, the many characters along the way are mostly very happy to be snapped. With my handy iPhone I managed to capture a little of the magic, helped by the GPP crew who taught me a few tricks (and whose iPhone photography course I’m signing up to pronto).
As a non Muslim I find the idea of Iftar and breaking fast with family, friends or as part of a community very special so the chance to be in the midst of a fasting community when the sun set and the call to prayer rang out from minarets all around us, when the quiet was broken and Naif suddenly filled with life was completely magical and very humbling. We sat on the streets and shared in the moment with dates, laban and the most delicious pakoras and samosas plus a traditional soup and cut fruit before walking on to a very authentic Afghani restaurant, sitting cross-legged on rugs and tucking into absolutely yummy dumplings with yoghurt sauce, grilled lamb, fragrant rice and a to-die-for dhal that I’d go back for in a heartbeat.
The food was incredible and the experience so very special – meeting new people, observing ancient traditions and seeing Dubai in a completely new way. The Ramadan Walk & Iftar trail is now open for booking with Frying Pan Adventures at AED395 per person. They also offer a whole menu of other tours including ‘The Indian Express’, ‘The Green Line Tour’ (using the metro during the hot summer months), ‘Local Flavours’ and ‘African Food Safari’ to name a few. I’m booking them all mamas – with visitors from out of town, with my husband, with anyone who loves food and exploring as much as I do – we’ll be tasting, photographing and soaking up the amazing cultures that shape Dubai.
The Ramadan/Old Dubai Iftar Walk runs on June 5, 6, and 11. For more info and to book a spot, visit here.
Hero image sourced via Gulf Photo Plus.