Exploring Dubai: Bastakiya
This article was written by Hannah Mestermann, Editor In Chief and Co Founder of KCDSpeaks.
Also photographed: Isabella McCarter and Moeen Abu Al-Zakhab, Year 12
Living in Dubai as a teenager can be exhausting as the things to do often seem very limited. With the pandemic blocking the ease of traveling oversees to visit cities and their renowned museums, cafe's and landmarks, we thought: why not explore Dubai a little and find our very own hidden gems?
In this series, myself and my 'entourage' will be exploring different locations and corners of Dubai. Our first stop was Bastakiya, plus a trip on the Dubai metro.
Whether you are a student- or adult; this collection of articles will hopefully inspire you to explore past the commercial malls and discover the beauty and speciality of Dubai.
Bastakiya is based in the Al Fahidi Neighbourhood and it is known as the Historical District of Dubai. The construction of this area dates back to 1890- and was built by Sunni Iranian Merchants who came to Dubai after fleeing from persecution in their homeland.
Bastakiya once consisted of 60 individual houses, which became inhabited by immigrant workers of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh during the Emirati economic boom in the 1950s. Some decades later, the Dubai Government decided to claim these buildings as historical landmarks and protected them to mark its heritage. They were restored to their original shapes and started welcoming tourists in the early 2000s.
Arriving in Bastakiya was somewhat transcending. Watching the car lanes go from six- to four- to two, to eventually just one, organised chaotic path. Seeing as the buildings went from scraping the sky- to barley six stories high. A cacophony of colours, spices and sounds flooded my senses. Less than a half- hour drive; and there we were: in the heart of Dubai.
Every instagrammer and blogger who has visited this corner has shared a snap at the Arabian Tea House... so naturally, we had to check it out. Although famous for it's courtyard, we decided to sit on the terrace instead .
We deviated slightly from the tea menu, and went for a Lime & Mint shake to cool off in the parching sun. The food menu really is all- out Arabic- and includes many vegetarian options. We tried the hummus plate, that was served with Arabic bread that we just couldn't get enough from!
The service was exceptional, which distracted from the elevated prices.
Another must-see in Bastakiya is the XVA Gallery; a traditionally- styled hotel, featuring a beautiful art gallery that you can visit completely for free!
We were already full from our early brunch; however the cafe in the courtyard is definitely a reason for me to come back!
Unfortunately, the XVA Gallery was the only art exhibition that we found to be open. We did visit on a Friday, but apparently most galleries have shut down for the time being because of Corona restrictions. Nevertheless; the ally ways and small nooks are art enough!
We ended our adventure in Bastakiya with a boat ride across the creek. For 2 AED for a one-way ticket per person, we got to experience a gorgeous dhow ride to the other side.
From there, we found ourselves close to a metro station.
We thought that to complete our tourist- behavior for the day; we had to ride on the Metro. This was a first for me. And as someone who has lived in Dubai for almost twelve years; I was totally amazed. Not sure of what to expect, I had the time of my life. Driving through the clouds, away from the Old Dubai- and towards the new.
The contrast between the traditional soul- and the metropolitan spirit of Dubai reminded me of the vast diversity of culture this city has to offer.
So, if you haven't already; go check out Bastakiya. Without dining & travel fare, it was completely free- and It really was the perfect day!
Hannah, Isabella and Moeen