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Saturday 24 December 2016

UAE 2016 Day 02: Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Like we said in an earlier post, breakfast took us two entire hours to complete. Not that we were complaining since the dishes served were both mesmerizing and appetizing at the same time.

Right beside the Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Café was a complex of historical sites called the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. Like the website Visit Dubai says: “Escape the skyscrapers of the city centre and travel back in time with a trip to Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, also known as Bastakiya. This atmospheric area in Bur Dubai is one of the oldest heritage sites in the city, with a neighbourhood that dates back to the early 1900s. A tour of the area offers a beguiling glimpse into the Dubai of a bygone era including traditional wind towers, bustling courtyards and maze of winding alleyways.

calligraphy, a dying art?

Sern capturing a moment

old and new: lantern with energy saving bulbs

the new portion of the quarter

aircond compressor was an eye sore

Brendan getting lost in the landscape

a high air tower

modern art in the mix

newly built old barn? 

a closer look

Brendan capturing me...

while I capture details of a wood grain

traditional front door

close-up of the modern lantern

contrasting colours

modern art in the mix

are you being helpful, eh?

a minaret in the distance

the closest thing to the translation of mawaheb...

is talent?

the old and the new

in perfect unison

A brief explanation of the history of the area taken from "The quarter was built in the early 1900s by merchants from the Persian town of Bastak who settled in Dubai to take advantage of tax breaks granted by the sheikh. By the 1970s, though, the buildings had fallen into disrepair and residents began moving on to newer, more comfortable neighbourhoods. Dedicated locals, expats and even Prince Charles prevented the area's demolition in the 1980s. Hidden within the restored maze, which is easily explored on an aimless wander, is a short section of the old city wall from 1800."

narrowing alleyways

cobbled pathways

blending in with the landscape

a door to its past and heritage?

a private building we guess 

takes you back to days gone by

an immense area of historical significance

Al Farooq mosque

Al Farooq mosque

the courtyard of Al Farooq Mosque

Here we found buildings with high air towers built with traditional building materials such as stone, gypsum, teak, sandal wood, fronds and palm wood. These building were aligned side by side, separated by alleys, pathways and public squares giving it an air of both mystery and mystic.

we found that the walls were made of many things

including sea shells

could this be the old city wall from 1800?

could it?

the gang planning about what to do next

and apparently the next plan is a selfie with the old city wall

We found the high air towers called barajeel expecially fascinating, and Sern explained its significance in the traditional buildings in the UAE and how it helped ventilate as well as keep its inhabitants cool during the hot scalding Arabic summer months.

it was so cool

even a bird perched gleefully

helps ventilate

and keep the interior cool

the barajeel

the high air tower

or the wind tower

ingenious traditional air conditioning

an integral part of UAE's traditional buildings

The buildings here house a number of varied cultural and artistic activities ranging from art exhibits, specialised museums, cultural and artistic societies. The Coffee Museum was especially to us coffee lovers (that's you and me, Ginny!)

come, come, come.. the proprietor smiled 

from the somewhat modern

to the positively ancient

all manner of devices 

in the quest of an exquisite cup of coffee

a barista's nightmare?

or a collector's dream

the end of the tour inside the coffee museum

A visit here is a great opportunity to get a glimpse into the old way of life in Dubai. The scarcity of front windows also intrigued us and hinted at the local population's need for privacy while maintaining the spirit of a community.

lack of windows hold a meaning

large cast iron doors

guarding something precious perhaps?

then we found out how it was used

ah, enlightening moment

a square in the centre of the quarter

or a courtyard for a majlis?

beheading device (kidding!)

a Majlis at a corner of the quarter

backdrop of the fine architecture


a falcon trainer?

about to go on a hunt?

After more than an hour here in the historical quarter, we were off in search of the next exciting thing in this neighbourhood: the Souks!

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