The souq is over 100 years old, and is across rows of merchant dhows docked along the shores of the Dubai Creek--one of the main arteries of Dubai’s commercial past and present.
The spice and herb section of the souq is a testament to the area’s history as an important stopover en route to the historic “Spice Road”--a water route, with spices and herbs transported via the seas on dhows from the east to the west.
Sailors, pearl divers and fishermen would make a stop at the spice and herb souq where they would stock up on items that would protect them against sea related ailments like dehydration, skin problems, digestion and fevers.
These days, we all drop by the spice souq from time to time to refresh our stock.
You find what you expect to find, spices used for cooking, like saffron and cumin, spices and herbs used to boost health and fix any ailments, like “al Haloul” tea or Senna for digestion. Then, if you look carefully about some of the old shops inside this old souq, you find interesting items like Ostrich oil which is advertised as a “very special” skin ointment that nurtures the skin, as well as a great oil for a massage. Then there is snake oil, that promises to revive the hair and make it better than ever before.
On the Ostrich oil packet, it says that it is high in essential fatty acids, omega 3, 6 and 9, is a wonderful moisturizer and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, cures skin problems such as spots, eczema, and as well non-skin related issues such as headaches and muscle aches. In many ways it seems to be a miracle oil, and is said to have been in use since ancient Egypt and by one of its most famous Queens, Cleopatra.
As for the slithering snake oil, it is said to be “specially” designed for women of this region, implying that somehow Arabian hair is different and would benefit the most from this very distinct oil. This oil promises to reduce hair loss, split ends, remove frizziness and leaves hair smooth and shiny due to special vitamins found in the reptile’s oil.
If I wasn’t vegetarian, I would have bought these two oils and tried them out. For they seem to be the solution to our biggest cosmetic concerns, our skin and hair.