ALONG THE NORTHERN BANK OF KHOR DUBAI, a saltwater creek that divides the city into Deira and Bur Dubai, hundreds of traditional wooden dhows float alongside what’s known locally as the Iranian Bazaar.
The bazaar and its immediate surroundings are in sharp contrast to the Brobdingnagian Vegas-style real estate developments that have defined Dubai’s image abroad in the last decade. The creekside quarters are older, lower, softer, in colours of sand-brown; they lack the wildness of the city’s modern architecture.
Right opposite the bazaar, Ali, a 32-year-old boatman from Iran’s Fars province, is standing on the quayside of his boat, smoking a cigarette. His dhow, like many on the creek, is empty. Some others are packed tight with crates possibly filled with electronic items, spare automobile parts, clothes, bags, shoes and even furry teddy bears.