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United Arab Emirates II: Dubai - Bastakiya

Published: 2.3.2015
I go on to the district of Bastakiya. This neighborhood preserves the memory of old sea port of Dubai as there are typical Arab houses surrounded with high walls. Hopefully, they will manage to preserve these sights for next generations …


Most of the rooms in the house faced the inner courtyard, windows as well. Thus, women could move freelyBastakiyawithout being covered and without fear of being seen from the outside. Only the guestroom on the ground floor had windows facing the street. They never locked the door of this room as it would be against Arab hospitality. When they used to sit on the ground while drinking coffee, or smoking water pipe they could invite somebody in …

Inside the homes it was cozy for the wind catchers, ancient forms of air-conditioning… Towers called Barjeel were equipped by two intersecting dividers that would catch any with blow and send it down below where it would cool down room temperature. Wooden beams stick out of the towers. On the beams, usually wet cloths were hang to make the air even more fresh. The houses were built of mud, and blocs of coral. The poor built their dwellings of palms called Barastis


The entire district is very authentic, one can easily imagine how people lived there. Many migrants settled there around 1900. They came from Bastak, the Iranian province, due to newly employed tax on commerce and abolition of free trade zone in the Iranian port of Lingah. Clever Dubai Sheikh Maktoum Bin Hasher Al Maktoum  made use of it instantly. He declared Dubai free trade zone without tax. Merchants and traders from Persia and India headed there which made the trade flourish in Dubai. Economic policy of Sheikh Maktoum was the first step towards economic miracle of Dubai as we know it.

pevnost Al Fahidi

I take a walk through the entire district towards the near fort of Al Fahidi. There is a beautiful museum depicting Bedouin tradition. The fortress was build as soon as 1787 and defended the city against sea invasion. Later, it served the rulers as a residence, and then as a military fortress and prison. In the 1970s, the fortress was declared a museum which now holds photos, wax figurines of fishermen, pearl-divers, traders, and Bedouins wandering the desert on Arabian camels. Then Bedouin dwellings, old ships, Arab weapons, and musical instruments. Old cannons guard the entrance gate. I take one picture after another. I was absolutely thrilled.

pevnost Al Fahidi

To be continued...

Text/photo: Sylvie Halouzková


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