At a distance of 8 km from Dubai International Airport, Bastakia Quarter or Al Bastakia is one of the oldest and traditional Emirati residential areas in Bur Dubai, also known as Old Dubai. Situated along Dubai Creek, it is one of the oldest and most picturesque heritage sites in Dubai.
Also known as the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai, Al Bastakia village was built in the late 19th century by Persian merchants who left their native homeland due to ongoing religious persecution, as well as tax breaks and incentives offered by the Emirati government. This place gets its name from Bastak, Iran, the origin of many of the traders who first plied their trades. In its prime, the locality was capable of 60 housing units, most of which were separated by narrow, winding lanes.
In the 1980s half of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood village was destroyed to make way for the development of a new office complex. The remaining houses were mostly used as warehouses or accommodation for foreign laborers. In 1989, the Dubai Municipality directed that the remaining parts of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood were to be demolished. Rayner Otter, a British architect, came to the area and made extensive renovation in the house where he was staying. Rayner started a campaign to preserve the area and wrote a letter to Prince Charles, who was scheduled to visit Dubai that year. On his arrival, Prince Charles asked to visit Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood and explored the whole area with Rayner Otter. During his visit, the Prince suggested that Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood should be preserved and then the demolition was canceled. In 2005, a project was initiated by the Dubai Municipality to restore the localities of old buildings and lanes.
Spread over an area of 300 sq. m, 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. Al Bastakiya is often referred to as being the soul of Dubai, while others refer to it as being the heart of Dubai due to its central location. Characterized by large buildings made in traditional materials like mud and wood, Al Bastakiya offers a good break from the modernism and technological advancement that Dubai stands for. Tourists will notice the ancient houses with wind towers, beautifully carved wooden doors and wooden lattices while walking on the narrow winding lanes of Al Bastakia village. Now, many of the houses are open to the public in the form of the Dubai Museum, Arabian Tea House, Coffee Museum, Majlis Gallery and Ostra.
Rather than the chaos that accompanies most of Dubai, Bastakiya is a relatively small area that is stuck in a bygone era and can be easily explored by foot. However, opting for a Heritage Tour or Walking Tour through Al Bastakiya is an excellent way of exploring the neighborhood. Most tours also often include a treat to authentic Arabic tea, coffee, and much-loved dates. One can also go for a pleasant dhow ride down the Dubai creek.
Timings: 9 AM - 6 PM