In the current face of Dubai, which stands tall with its skyscrapers and modern infrastructure, it is difficult to find the traces of old Dubai and get a sense of the city’s history. The Al Bastakia in Old Dubai is a historically significant neighborhood.
Also known as the Al Fahidi Historical District, as the neighborhood sheds light on the lifestyle of the people before the UAE was formed. If you want to know a side of Dubai that shows the state of the city before the glamour, oil magnates, and cloud-touching building were added to the landscape, take a trip to this old neighborhood. However, before you visit the Al Bastakia in Dubai, here is some basic information about this iconic neighborhood.
History Of Al Bastakia In Old Dubai
The Al Bastakiya history dates back to the time of the seafaring trade in Dubai when most of the trade business of Dubai grew out of the old neighborhood of Khor Dubai, which was also referred to as the creek, or Old Dubai. The neighborhood was built in the 19th century by Mr. Qasim Bin Abdullah Al Bastaki, and the construction was funded by rich textile and pearl merchants of Dubai.
Spread over an area of 300 square meters, what was once a dull, old neighborhood, today is a maze of age-old wonders that still hold true to the real essence of Old Dubai. Legend says that the area was up for a massive renovation and it was the visit from Prince Charles that stopped the demolishing of the neighborhood, as he said the place was too precious to be brought down.
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The Architecture Of The Bastakia In Old Dubai
Originally designed by Mr. Qasim Bin Abdullah Al Bastaki, the area was refurbished in the early 2000’s under the keen supervision of architect Rashad Bukhash. He oversaw the renovation of over 50 buildings in the area, as well as managed the construction of a couple of museums, and took the renovation very personally, as his own family has fallen prey to the urbanization of Dubai, having lost their ancestral neighborhood.
The architecture is really unique and one-of-a-kind, taking inspiration from the many nations that inspired and helped build Dubai into the city that it is today. Islamic calligraphy adorning the walls of the buildings, Levantine decorations, the Aran Hijazi mashrabiyya and the North African style of courtyards are some of the different styles of architecture you will find in Bastakia in Old Dubai.
Walking through the streets of this neighbourhood, with the unkempt roads and the rugged surfaces of the walls of the buildings, you wouldn’t feel the glamour you find in the rest of Dubai, but it is like taking a tour back through the many centuries and exploring the many different cultures that had an impact on the UAE.
Attractions In Al Bastakia In Old Dubai
1. Dar Al Nadwa
The history of this building dates back to the 19th century. The building was constructed in the year 1925 by Mr. Abdul Rahman Mohammad Farooq and is 463 square meters in area. Since the renovation, it has hosted many important events like symposiums, art shows, conferences, and national and international gatherings.
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2. Sheikh Mohammed Center for Civilized Intercommunication Building
Constructed in the year 1944, this iconic building is a great example of traditional Dubai architecture, and after the renovation in 2004, the building has become the premises for the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Civilized Intercommunication, where many international conventions and important gatherings are hosted. Spread in 300 square meters of area, this building is an icon of Old Dubai.
3. Historical Buildings Section
Constructed in the year 1930-1931, this building spreading over an area of 400 square meters and three stone staircases link the two storeys. The building is distinct from all the other buildings in the neighborhood for the beautiful view of the creek the building provides. After the restoration of the building in the year 1999, it became the headquarters of Dubai Municipality’s Historical Buildings Department.
4. Gallery Majlis
This building was constructed in the year 1930 and is spread over an area of 400 square meters. It was, later on, renovated in the year 2002. Adorned in traditional Middle Eastern decor, the architecture of Majlis takes you back in time when antiques were the trend. Today, it is used as a store of traditional paintings, art pieces, and antiquities and has some of the most unique antique art pieces in all of Dubai.
By Bus: If you’re taking a bus, you can get down at the Al Fahidi stop.
5. XVA Hotel
To enjoy a hotel stay at Bastakia quarter in Dubai, then head to this hotel. The building was restored in the year 2003 and consists of two floors. All the rooms overlook the pretty courtyard and are resplendent with cozy amenities. This is your opportunity in getting a unique hotel-stay experience which is different from all the other things you get to do in urban Dubai. It is an experience of a lifetime.
6. Bastakiya Nights Restaurant
This is an interesting restaurant in the Al Bastakia neighborhood, where you can dine in Dubai. Before it was a restaurant, the building was built in the year 1895 and is spread over an area of 649 square meters. It is a two-storey building with traditional interiors, overlooking a creek. The restaurant serves traditional Arabic food, and you will leave the restaurant feeling like you had a homemade delicious meal.
7. Sahara Gate
Constructed in the year 1954 and spread over an area of 310 square meters, this building in the Al Bastakia in Old Dubai. The building had undergone a renovation is 2005, and has then onwards been dedicated to the culture and tourism of Dubai. Due to this, the interiors have very traditionally designed interiors, with Islamic writings on the walls. The gate is a picturesque example of Arabic designs and is a must-see in old Dubai.
8. Architectural Heritage Society
Constructed in 1936 over an area of 184 square meters, this is a small building in the neighborhood. However, it has one of the best architectural designs in the entire Al Bastakia district. After its renovation that in 2001, the building has been renamed the Architectural Heritage Society of Dubai and has been dedicated to preserving the architectural heritage in the neighborhood.
How to go to Bastakiya in Dubai
By car: You can easily take a cab from any point in the city as all the drivers are well familiar with the Al Bastakiya neighborhood.
By metro: The nearest metro station to the Bastakiya neighborhood is the Al Fahidi station, and the Bur Juman station is also close as well.
By Bus: If you’re taking a bus, you can get down at the Al Fahidi stop.
Basic Information About The Bastakiya Neighbourhood In Old Dubai
Al Bastakiya location: Al Hamriya, Bur Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Al Bastakiya Dubai Timings: The Al Bastakiya timings are from 9 AM to 6 PM every day.
Al Bastakiya entrance fee: There is no Bastakia quarter entrance fee. Anyone can visit and learn about the heritage of Dubai.
· Carry your identification with you at all times
· Make sure you always have some cash on you as you can’t always rely on cards and ATM machines
· Remember to wear lightweight clothes as this is an outdoor tour
· Keep your phone charged or carry a power bank with you, as there are not many charging points in this area
· You can hire a guide at the venue to give you a detailed tour of the neighborhood
There’s a lot to learn at the Al Bastakia in Old Dubai, so hurry up and start planning your dates for your next vacation to Dubai. As they say, the flavors of a city can be found nowhere but in the oldest districts, so pack your backs and head to a truly delightful experience!
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