‘Finding understated magic in old dubai- Al Bastakiya’
Al Fahidi is the historical neighbourhood also know as Al Bastakiya in Bur (old) Dubai that shows the middle east in a more traditional sense. Since most of Dubai is all about grandness, modernism, sky scrapers and a somewhat artificial surroundings, Al Bastakiya is a step back in time into the 19th century. The little village dates back to 1980s and is made up of beautiful winding streets originally built by Iranian immigrants who needed housing. Most of the village was destroyed in the 70’s, but still the remaining allows you to be captivated by the peaceful beauty of it all. The art district area fills with museums, cafes, little shops that sell rugs, spices and all kinds of ornaments.
Before exploring the old quarter, allow your journey to begin at the quaint Arabian Tea House that leads you into a secret garden with flowy white curtains, white rattan chairs and turquoise benches. My husband and I wanted to start the day bright and early so we arrived to the tea house just when it opened creating a luxuriously tranquil setting, just a few people and the birds chirping gently in the apple trees. We loved the place so much that we later came back for lunch after exploring the spice and gold souks. We ordered the most fragrant jasmine tea that burst into bloom as it sat in the water long enough, a cup of gahwa (coffee in Arabic) flavoured with cardamom and fresh dates with tahini. It felt like a middle eastern dream that set a dreamy mood for the entire day, surrounded with wind towers, stone architecture, spilling trees and the sound of the prayers echoing from minarets in the background. Dressed in a well covered all white silk gown, a sleek bun with henna rising up my arm, we allowed the Arabian culture to take us under its spell.
The old Dubai is significantly important and exciting to explore in the midst of modern infrastructure as it sheds light on the lifestyle of the people before the UAE was formed. It is a far less glamorous side, but magical and full of charm with its understated beauty. I loved observing the arches and designs in the architecture and exploring the antique shops. We purchased a beautiful tea/coffee set that now sits in our showcase in the kitchen. Since then I have made many golden milks infused with ginger/cinnamon that bring me right back to Dubai.
We purchased some darling leather slippers from the spice souk and because of this tea house, I became obsessed with these coffee/tea cups. I ended up purchasing beautiful porcelain cups with gold detailing that I found from a kitchen store from the mall.