Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dubai: Gold

Gold in Dubai

My lodging is in the section of Dubai called Deira. It doesn't have the modern high-rises that one sees in the tourist photos. It does have the Gold Souk, Spice Souk, and nearby, the Creek.

View from my alley, looking toward Al Khaleej Road

First order of business today was to walk to the water. When I'd emerged from the metro yesterday, I saw palm trees, blue skies, and the suggestion of water.

Across from the Hyatt Regency is a water-side walkway.

There is a lot of construction going on in the water, moving sand about.

"Flag" juice
Next stop: Breakfast.  Walked up 27th Street (which I think is also called Al Moussal Road or something similar), turned into a cafe. Had a "flag" juice plus a mutton breakfast sandwich. Both tasted fine; nothing special.

After some difficulty, found my way to the Gold Souk, which is a market of small shops devoted to selling gold jewelry. Every day there is the day's market price for gold per gram. Today it was 152 dirham ($41) for 18k, 182 dirham ($50) for 21k, and 186 dirham ($51) for 22k. Add onto that the cost of the craftsmanship, overhead, and other profit. Or maybe the "other profit" is built into the daily gold price. Negotiation is critical.

There's a rather modest entrance gateway to the gold souk, nothing on the scale of the entrance, for instance, to Chinatown in San Francisco, which would seem more fitting, considering the tourist buzz enjoyed by the Gold Souk.  

Gold Souk entrance
I have a pendant that my grandmother gave to me, which belonged to her mother. It has no chain and for years, I've intended to buy a necklace for it so I can wear this heirloom.

I'm in Dubai, so why not get that now? A side benefit: If someone compliments me on my necklace, I can touch it delicately and say with a sheepish smile, "Thank you, I picked it up in Dubai." So next time you see me, be sure to ask, OK? 

(This kind of thing always reminds me of a trip a long, long time ago when a fellow traveler began a story with, "We were picking strawberries in [insert exotic locale here] when ....") 

I visited a number of shops to look at different designs and compare prices. I loved a 22k necklace for its color, liquid design, and heft, and even considered buying it. But then gave myself a reality check. I'm rootless, hello? A constant tourist whose likelihood of being a target for theft is much higher than the average bear. Just another thing I'm going to have to keep track of, like a toddler. And why am I even thinking about spending this kind of money ....

I did, however, buy a more modest chain of a more modest karat. Something more in keeping with my station.

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