3101-A W Highway 98, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Al Bastakiya Dubai Reviews
Bastakiya Quarter Feb 23, 2004
Perhaps the most striking neighborhood in Dubai is Al Bastakiya, a charming quarter along the Creek where every building possesses at least one wind tower. Wind towers (barjeel in Arabic) are olden architectural devices built to funnel breezes into homesteads and provide relief from the torrid temperatures of the region. Nothing more than a tower with openings facing every direction to ensure any breeze gets captured, wind towers were a sign of wealth (more barjeel in your homestead = more money). Most buildings here are multi-story, shrouding the narrow pathways threading through Bastakiya to manufacture shade, another device to yield respite from the unforgiving sun.
The community is named after the Bastak region of Iran, and although most of the original residents were Arabs, they were merchants who ventured back and forth to Iran for their livelihood. This was a wealthy village, but modern times reduced it to nothing as Dubai raced to construct western buildings and strive for economic success. The truly fascinating tidbit around its resuscitation is that it owes a debt to Prince Charles. While touring Dubai with Sheik Zayed some years ago he remarked what a tragedy it was to see such a rich heritage go to waste. Embracing this comment, the government rebuilt Bastakiya, preserving the days of old and providing a wonderful opportunity for visitors.
Today Bastakiya is a fascinating neighborhood to ramble about. Simply walking along the tight alleys and stumbling upon an excellent gallery is temptation enough, but there are also many fine eateries to sample. This is where the Dubai Museum is located and here’s my final validation of how cool this location is: when we popped into the Local House, a wonderful restaurant/art gallery (which I have reviewed separately because they now serve camel burgers!), Mark knew they had a rooftop area that was only used for catered events. He only had to ask if it was okay if we headed up the stairway and they casually granted us permission on the spot. So we bounded up the steps to a delightful rooftop patio and savored sweeping views of a magnificent neighborhood, one of a very few still thriving as western culture strangles diversity.
Part of the Hello Dubai travel blog
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