Mike Raanhuis (1975) is an independent Dutch journalist and photographer for ad agencies and (digital) magazines. Using evocative images to back up his words and vice versa, Mike captures the purity of people and nature in unique reports. See also www.miketekstenbeeld.nl.
Monument to time
The oldest district of Dubai is Al Bastakiya, where you can stroll along a 200-year-old city wall and wander over squares with terracotta-coloured houses and classic windcatchers. This place gives a great impression of what old Dubai must have been like. It is said the district was saved from demolition by the British Prince Charles, a well-known art and architecture enthusiast, during a visit in 1989.
XVA Art Hotel
The historic centre contains a hidden pearl of whose existence even taxi drivers are unaware. The truly unique 120-year-old XVA Art Hotel has nine rooms and a very helpful manager named Iwan. You can forget about a swimming pool and in-room TV here – what you get instead is an authentic overnight stay, old Dubai style. An eye-catching feature is the regularly changing exhibition of work by local artists.
Deira fish market
Octopus to go
Another good insider tip is the Deira fish market and adjacent vegetable and fruit market next to Dubai Creek. You can buy the freshest fish imaginable for a small price here while rubbing elbows with the locals. Have a mini shark or octopus prepared for you in the blink of an eye. And there’s plenty to see even if you don’t intend to buy. Don’t miss it!
There’s lots to explore in the unknown Dubai, including many museums like the Dubai Museum and Al Ahmadiya school. But if you’re looking for something uncommon, check out the fascinating Camel Museum. An inspired English-speaking guide will tell you all about animals that are so central to life in Arabia they are called the ‘ship of the desert.’ Camel races are held here specially for the powerful rich.
Shakespeare and Co
A little piece of France
To eat in a unique location, visit Shakespeare and Co. in the fancy business district of Dubai. This eatery is a real breath of fresh air among the skyscrapers. The shabby-chic French interior is reminiscent of the Paris of Marie Antoinette. The cuisine ranges from soft butter cakes to buckwheat pasta and shrimp in piri piri sauce. Make sure you don’t miss the house patisserie – especially the chocolate is adored by Dubai’s jet set.