Landmarks of Dubai: Bastakia (Old Dubai)
The Bastakia Quarter (also known as the Al-Fahidi neighborhood) was built in the late 19th century to be the home of wealthy Persian merchants who dealt mainly in pearls and textiles and were lured to Dubai because of the tax-free trading and access to Dubai Creek.
Bastakia occupies the eastern portion of Bur Dubai along the creek, and the coral and limestone buildings here, many with walls topped with wind-towers, have been excellently preserved. Wind-towers provided the homes here with an early form of air conditioning — the wind trapped in the towers was funneled down into the houses. Persian merchants likely transplanted this architectural element (common in Iranian coastal houses) from their home country to the Gulf.
Lined with distinct Arabian architecture, the narrow lanes are highly evocative of a bygone, and much slower, age in Dubai’s history. Inside the district, you’ll find the Majlis Gallery, with its collection of traditional Arab ceramics and furniture (housed in a wind-tower) and the Al Serkal Cultural Foundation, with a shop, cafe, and rotating art exhibitions (located in one of the historic buildings).