The Madinat is a newly built souk near the Burj al Arab. There is an element of artificiality about it (my Lonely Planet guidebook refers to it as “Disney does Arabia”), but when it comes down to it, it’s a very pleasant place to hang out. Since it’s attached to two five-star hotels, all the restaurants serve alcohol and the large courtyard is a relaxing place to catch up with friends over grape-flavored shisha. At night it’s bustling with both tourists and locals, but my favorite time to go is in the morning for coffee because it’s not crowded and the sunlight shines through the pretty wooden ceilings and windows.
The shops sell all sorts of souvenirs from kitschy bobble heads to exquisite hand-made rugs. There are practical things available too, like swimwear and toys. Maybe it’s not the cheapest place to find these items, but it’s still fun to look around.
So many pretty lights and lamps
Views from outside
Being from Texas, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Riverwalk in San Antonio when I saw the canals at the Madinat. Exchange the abras for one of those big rectangular river boats, and you could be in Texas! Look at the resemblance: