x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

New tour lets people do Dubai by foot

Ann innovative three-hour walking tour offers participants a taste of Old and New Dubai.

DUBAI // A non-profit group is leading weekend walking tours to encourage residents to connect with their city.

Eight guides - most of them artists, architects and graphic designers - will lead the three-hour tour each Friday until the end of the month. Participants are invited to meet the next day to commemorate their walk in a collective piece of art, which will go on display in an exhibit in mid-May.

"It's about reconnecting people with their city," said Adina Hempel, a cofounder of Tasmena, the tour organisers.

The route starts at the splashy Downtown area near the Burj Khalifa, then crosses Sheikh Zayed Road into a rundown sand lot with concrete shacks and graffiti called the Defence Neighbourhood.

It then winds through more empty lots, past police buildings, across Al Wasl Road, through a few abandoned homes, past shiny boxy villas, and onto a fishermen's section of Jumeirah Beach.

The organisers hope that participants will brainstorm ways to turn abandoned lots into people-friendly spaces.

"This area could be a beautiful park," said Ms Hempel, pointing to an empty areaThe eight participants in that group were asked to bring cameras and take pictures of "the small things"- a theme chosen by their guide, Saif bin Adhed. As they crossed a footbridge over Sheikh Zayed Road, he took a photo of the metal knobs laid on the ground to guide blind people.

Vyachaslava Goncharova, a 24-year-old freelance photographer from Kazakhstan, took a picture of the sandals left outside a little mosque. "Just five minutes from Dubai Mall you find somewhere full of life that is very different from the glamorous Dubai," she said. "It feels like you're in a time machine."

At their final stop, the beach, participants wandered around the fishing boats and steel nets.

Nurida Bayramova, a 21-year-old student from Russia, said she has lived in Dubai for five years but not explored much on foot.

"Walking in Dubai is something definitely new," she said.

Tasmena will offer another set of walking tours in the fall.