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Bastakiya (Bastakia) Dubai

Monday 18 February 2019 (UAE)   

Bastakiya - Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Dubai

Bastakiah renamed as Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in 2012 ...

The Bastakia quarter, or Bastakiya, is an area of Dubai on the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek that dates from the 1890s, where residents originally earned money from pearl diving. Bastakiya is named after the Iranian town of Bastak - many of the original traders in Bastakia were from Iran.

In the 1990s, most residents in Bastakiya had their homes bought by the Dubai Goverment, and starting in the late 1990s the Historic Buildings Section of the Dubai Municipality began redeveloping the area with old historic buildings renovated (or rebuilt), along with a number of art galleries and cafes being opened up. There are also a couple of pleasant boutique hotels with small doorways for tall people to bump their heads on. The area is one of the few historic areas in Dubai, and is also an excellent place to walk around for those interested in art & culture.

The Bastakiya area is home to several well known buildings and organisations for example

  • Al Fahidi Fort - the oldest building in Dubai, dating from the 1780s.
  • Bait Al Wakeel - the first office building in Dubai.
  • Dubai Museum - near the Al Fahidi Fort, and a highly recommended destination for tourists and residents to visit.
  • Majlis Gallery
  • Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU).
  • XVA Art Gallery - moved to DIFC then back to Bastakiya.

Many of the buildings in Bastakiya are topped with wind towers - a cooling tower that pre-dates the arrival of airconditioning, and is surprisingly effective in the summer heat of Dubai (at least that's what everyone tells the tourists, it's still hot though).

Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU)

The Sheikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding was established in 1995 to provide a venue where tourists and expat residents can learn about and understand UAE culture and traditions through their "Open Doors Open Minds" programs. Contact tel: +971-4-3536666, email smccu@emirates.net.ae. Activities and facilities include

  • Arabic language courses focusing on spoken Gulf Arabic, 12 week (two days per week) and 18 week (1 day per week) available, course fees AED 1250 per person, see SMCCU website for details of times and days. Morning and evening classes available.
  • Children's story circle.
  • Coffee Mornings.
  • Dubai and UAE orientation and cultural introduction seminars, lectures, and induction courses for corporate groups.
  • Gift shop with locally made jewellery, fashion accessories and other UAE souvenirs.
  • Jumeirah Mosque Tours.
  • Question and Answer sessions (Q&A).
  • Traditional UAE breakfast on Mondays at 1000 (10 am) at the SMCCU, AED 50 per person, booking required.
  • Traditional UAE lunch on Sundays at 1300 (1pm) at the SMCCU, AED 60 per person, booking required.
  • Walking tours of the Bastakiya area on Sundays and Thursdays, starting time 1000 (10 am) from the SMCCU, AED 50 (adults) and AED 25 AED (children).
Sikka Art Fair 2012
  • Sikka Art Fair held in conjunction with the Art Dubai fair and exhibition (in Madinat Jumeirah), organised by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
  • UAE based and foreign artists exhibit various works in the some of the Bastakiya villas.
  • Other events include live music performances, workshops, etc.
  • Dates for 2012 are 15-25 March 2012.
  • Sikka is an Arabic word for "lane" or "alley" referring to the maze of sikkas through the Al Bastakia district.
Souq Al Bastakiya (SAB) or Bastakia Souk

Update: Souk Al Bastakiya not operating during 2009-2010? Unknown yet for 2010-2011.

During the winter months in the Bastakiya area in amongst all the art galleries, an open air souq (market) gets going on Saturdays from 1000-1700 (10am to 5pm) (or 10am to sunset depending on what you read) with about 50 stalls displaying and selling arts & crafts, fashion items, antiques, food & drink, etc. A Kids Corner operates to keep the anklebiters happy, and what would a Dubai event be without the ubiquitous Valet Parking (for AED 20). There's also a courtyard styled Souq Café on Fridays and Saturdays from 1100-2200 (11am to 10pm). Tel +971-4-3217114 or email souq@albastakiya.com. For 2009 the Bastikiya Souq runs from 17 January to 28 February 2009.

  • Dubai Drums will be banging away at 4pm on Souq Saturdays.
  • Other musicians will keep you entertained, or your conversations stifled, at various times during the day.
  • The Jam Jar will offer 45 minute art workshops (from drawing cartoons to working with clay) three times a day on Souq Saturdays, for January/February 2009 at 1100, 1300, and 1500. For bookings (important) tel +971-4-3417303 or sign up in the morning.
  • And if none of that appeals, you can always sign up for a knitting class (a good opportunity for men to get in touch with their inner self, or something).
  • Stalls available for vendors AED 1250 for 5 weeks in 2009, contact souq@albastakiya.com or apply online.
  • "Souq Al Bastakiya" is organised by Dubai Event Management Corporation (DEMC). The first Souk Al Bastakia street market was on Saturday 20 December 2008.
Souq Al Bastakiya list of vendors
  • Arts and Crafts: Abbas Saberi, Agasi, Al Rahma Handicrafts, Badaweya, Copper Shop, Crystalaty, Dubai Artisanal, Emirates Philatelic Association, Jam Jar Gallery, Lale Taghiani, Quiet Riot.
  • Fashion: Chocolate and Pickles, Burqa Heritage Line, Cristina Franco, Fikra - Ink, Josefa, Jute Couture, Kobra Al Qaseer, Macrame Designs, Pink Pepper, Seven Minutes.
  • Fashion Accessories and Other Goods: Al Mutanabbi Bookshop, Al Rahma Handicrafts, Arif, Babyart, Babybling (Babay Bling), Beadtime stories, Bonita, Chuk Palu Rugs - Afghanistan rugs, Duwan by Fatima Al Qassimi, Fay Lawson, Frenzy Gifts, Khalil Fazal Antiques, Khan Saboun (Saboon), Lapaz Boutique, Mygold, Naqsh, Sansaya Boutique.
  • Food & Drink: Castanea, Souq Café.
  • Humanitarian and Charity Organisations: Al Noor Special Needs Center, The Citizens Foundation, Dubai Autism Center, World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
  • Lifestyle and other services: American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, Queen Bee Beauty Salon, Excelencia Publishing, Henna and Coffee Reading, Motivate Books.
President Bush visit to Bastakiya, Dubai

President Bush visited Dubai in January 2008 and was shown around by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed. Residents of Dubai were given a holiday and major roads were closed, including the Sheikh Zayed Road, making the place look like some sort of post-apocalyptic deserted city. During his trip to Dubai, (date Mon 14 Jan 2008) President Bush had a walk around the Bastakiya area, and stopped for a spot of lunch at the Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding, with Sheikh Mohammed and other dignitaries. Access to the whole Bastikya area was restricted on that day, and Bastakiya residents were instructed to stay indoors - even those standing on balconies were told to go back inside. President Bush was rumoured to have said "Nice place, but why doesn't anyone live here?"

Last update Thursday 11-Sep-2014
Related pages
Related websites (new window)
  • www.albastakiya.com - website about Bastakiya area but no connection when checked January 2009.
  • www.dubaihistoric.ae - Dubai Municipality website with details of restoration projects and a list of historic buildings in Bastakiya (and elsewhere in the emirate) that have been restored. Look under the Museums or Project headings for more details. Update 24 Dec 2013 - domain forwards to login.dm.gov.ae/wps/portal/HomeAr.
  • www.cultures.ae - Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding website.
  • www.sikka.ae - Sikka Art Fair website.
  • www.souqalbastakiya.com - Saturday open air souk (souq) in the Al Bastakia area from 1000-1700 in the winter months (in 2008-2009, but not operating 2009-2010?).


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