Further towards the creek, away from the glittery flashing lights, lie two of the biggest parts of Old Dubai: Deira and Bur Dubai. Newcomers to Dubai might not realise it, but before the emergence of mega-blocks like DIFC, Dubai Marina and JBR, Deira used to be the heart of Dubai, and Bur Dubai its quieter, more relaxed sister. Bur Dubai is home to many historic sites, museums and old buildings. Tour the living museums of the Heritage and Diving Village in Al Shindagha and explore the souks. Or wander through the lanes of the historic Al Fahidi District, home to some of the only original Arabic wind-tower houses left on the Arab side of the Gulf, built by wealthy traders and pearl merchants.
Bur Dubai mainly attracts South Asian expats as well as international expats looking for affordable housing close to the centre of town. Like Deira, Bur Dubai is densely populated. Both areas are worth exploring, and offer countless benefits. Much of the charm of Bur Dubai lies in simply wandering along the waterfront and through the busy backstreets, although there are a number of specific attractions worth exploring. At the heart of the district, the Dubai Museum offers an excellent introduction to the city’s history, culture and customs, while the old Iranian quarter of Al Bastakiya (recently renamed Al Fahidi district) nearby is home to the city’s collection of traditional buildings, topped with dozens of wind towers.
Bur Dubai is perfect for people looking for reasonable residential rent in close proximity to the hotspots of central Dubai. It’s one practical place to live when considering rent, amenities, and local transport links. Working expats with low-to-mid income can find great accommodation options in Bur Dubai for a reasonable price.
Bur Dubai gets quite busy in the evenings as more and more people go out to grab a snack, have dinner, or finish errands. Residents spend a good deal of time out and about walking the streets and enjoying the many quick snack shops and cafes that line the streets. On weekends, particularly Friday afternoons, families head out to the creek or spend time in the different parks and attractions throughout the neighbourhood.
Compared to newer districts in Dubai, Bur Dubai enjoys a more natural, organic feel. The availability of outdoor activities and affordable entertainment options give residents a chance to explore the beauty of the city without breaking the budget.
Pet owners, large families and people who like to live in a quiet environment
If you are someone who owns a pet, or generally needs a lot of space, then Bur Dubai is probably not the best choice for you. Despite the apartments being larger than other newer areas of Dubai, the chaos of the backstreets does not lend itself to happy free-roaming pets like other areas in the Greens, The Springs, and The Lakes. Bur Dubai can get very congested, especially during rush-hours and weekends, so prepare yourself for a lot of bumper-to-bumper traffic and noise pollution. In this area, using the Dubai Metro is a great option to avoid the delays caused by traffic.
Low to mid-range apartments
Rent in Bur Dubai is relatively cheap (starting from 50,000 AED/year). The area is dominated by mid-rise buildings offering 1BR, 2BR, 3BR, and 4BR apartments. There are the occasional villas in Bur Dubai, but finding a vacant one to rent is very difficult. Residential buildings vary in Bur Dubai; some offer top-notch amenities such as swimming pools and gyms, while others conspicuously require maintenance and upkeep.
Every small detail in Bur Dubai is a reminder of a rich Emirati past. From museums, to art galleries, old Dubai is where residents can explore the “real” Dubai. This is also where you’ll get the strongest sense of Bur Dubai’s status as the city’s Little India, with dozens of no-frills curry houses, window displays full of glittery saris, and optimistic touts offering fake watches or “nice pashminas”.