There is no doubt about the glitz and glamour of Dubai as its towering skyscrapers and glimmering architecture are all the buzz today. However, while the beautiful modern buildings, expansive mall and gold souk are the lifeblood of the city, its heart beats strongly in old Dubai.
If you want to see a part of the city that still boasts traditional homes and wind catcher towers, schedule a walking tour of the Bastakia Quarter. This area was first established in the 19th century and really began to bloom when the area was announced a tax free zone for foreign traders.
Today, you can walk the streets of old Dubai and get a real sense of what it must have been like when camels were the main mode of transportation. Many of the buildings in the area have been completely restored using original materials.
What to See
Away from traffic congested areas, you will find a conservation district lined with well preserved limestone and coral buildings. Though many of these are private residences, there are some that are still open to the public such as:
- Dubai Museum
- Arabian Tea House
- Ostra- contemporary art
- Majlis Gallery- Local and international artists on display
One amazing architectural display you should experience is the wind catcher. These towers are a natural forerunner to modern air conditioning and they actually function quite well. The Majlis Gallery is housed inside one such wind tower.
Before you leave for the main city of Dubai, do not skip a trip to the Heritage Village. Established in 1997 it is an attraction much like a folk center you would find in the United States, but instead of candle dipping or fur tanning, you will see and learn about the Bedouin way of life. Different styles of traditional life are on display from coastal to mountain regions. You can experience:
- Jewelry making
- Pottery making
- Tools and equipment used by various tribes
- Shops where you can buy pottery, jewelry, traditional foods and much more
- Traditional Medicine- between October and March visitors can experience the various types of traditional medicine that has been practiced for generations.
Flying into Dubai is an experience all its own, where you are greeted with a bustling metropolis filled with fashion, magnificent buildings, exquisite cuisine and much more. However, if you want to see where and how it all started take the time to head over to Old Dubai, it is definitely worth the time.