Al Bastakiya: An Historic Neighborhood of Deep Heritage

Al Bastakiya, also known as the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, is one of the most engaging neighborhoods in Dubai and a great place to go if you’d like to take a walking tour. You’ll see lanes lined with local shops and sellers, and the place is a virtual labyrinth of intrigue. Al Bastakiya has a history which stretches as far back as the 1890s and is a great area to view historic buildings and learn about Dubai’s past.

Al Bastakiya was saved from demolition

There is deep heritage in Al Bastakya, which likely is what prompted the district’s salvation in the first place. At the peak of its affluence this community had some sixty separate housing units which were separated by winding thoroughfares. About thirty years ago un-developed portions of Al Bastkiya were done away with, and had an Englishman by the name of Otter not come through and vied for the district’s deep historical heritage, there is a very good chance you’d never get to see Dubai’s deep history in this area. But lucky for you and every other tourist who comes through, Otter did stop in, and was able to renovate Al Bastakiya so successfully that he felt confident to call in a royal favor. He contacted Prince Charles and convinced the prince to take a tour with him of the district. Charles decided preservation was indeed a wise idea, after he had observed the deep culture saturated throughout the area, and encouraged the Dubai government to keep from destroying this historic neighborhood. Further demolitions of Al Bastakiya were cancelled and as of 2005, a restoration project began with the aim of restoring the district’s avenues, lanes, and buildings. Now Al Bastakiya is a great place for locals to enjoy memories of times gone by in Dubai and for you to experience Dubai-that-was through Dubai-that-is!

Take a walk through Al Bastakiya

Before you start your walk stop at the Sheikh Mohammed Center For Cultural Understanding. This center is in one of the finest buildings of Al Bastakiya and will give you an idea for the culture. After your visit head forward from the center and take a left towards the waterfront. A cavalcade of fine dining establishments can be found here; one of the best is Bastakiah Nights. Once you’ve reached the end of the walk, another left will bring you to one of the remaining walls of Al Fahidi Fort, which is part of the Dubai Museum which gives you an idea of Dubai’s past. As you’re walking you can enjoy the extremely foreign wind-tower architecture of the region. These towers are designed to catch the wind and funnel it into the houses as a form of air conditioning. They’re almost like bits of modern art; which is appropriate, because if you keep traveling the outskirts of Bastakiya’s historical district, eventually you’re going to come to XVA, a fine modern art gallery. Right beside it are two other galleries: Ave Gallery and Majlis Gallery.

A different view on Dubai!

You will find lots of modern architecture in Dubai like the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Khalifa, but if you want to learn about Dubai’s past and are looking for authentic shops and restaurants you have to visit labyrinthine Al Al Bastakiya. It’s the perfect place for you to get a real feel for the city’s soul; old and new!

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