Old Dubai still retains its distinct charm

A traditional Arab courtyard home stay.

There is plenty to see and do in Dubai. For those of you short on time and money, here are some suggested attractions which are located within the city limits and accessible by public transport:

Windtower house in Bastakiya, Dubai
Windtower house in Bastakiya, Dubai.

Once upon a time Dubai was just a creek where fishing and pearling dhows took shelter from the rough waves of the Persian Gulf.

On the southern bank of the creek was Dubai and on the northern bank was Deira. There was often bitter rivalry between the neighbouring clans resulting in the odd skirmish.

Then under the wise leadership of the ruling family they patched their differences and have never looked back since as Dubai has gone from strength to strength.

But the waterfronts of Dubai and Deira still retain their own distinct atmospheres. This attraction, Old Dubai, refers to the Bastakiya area, the Bur Dubai Souq and the Dubai side of the creek up as far as Shindagah where the creek meets the sea.

Arabian Tea House, Bastakiya,Dubai
Arabian tea house in Bastakiya

Until the 1960s nearly all the buildings in the small town of Dubai looked like this with mud and coral stone walls, topped with a wind tower designed to catch the sea breezes and funnel them down into the house below.

Most of the old houses were demolished in the 1970s and replaced with concrete block constructions cooled by air conditioning.

Realising that it was a mistake to demolish Dubai’s unique heritage buildings, efforts were made to salvage and restore what remained. They have done a good job in making the most of what survived and these buildings are concentrated in Bastakiya alongside the Ruler’s Office.

Many have been converted into galleries, studios, restaurants and museums.

If you would like to experience a traditional style Arab courtyard home, book a stay at the Orient Guest House in the Bastakiya area.

Bur Dubai Souq
The Bur Dubai Souq has been given a retro makeover.

There is a small souq running parallel to the creek. The shop-fronts have been given a makeover to make them look older and more archaic than they really are. It’s rather touristy so hard bargaining is recommended.

Veggie Samosas in Dubai
The veggie samosas are best eaten piping hot.

Your nose will lead you to these delicious vegetable samosas on sale in this area. These spicy potato-filled snacks have to be the best veggie samosas in the world.

Dubai Museum
The Dubai Museum is probably the oldest structure.

Nearby is the Dubai Museum housed in an ancient fort which is probably one of Dubai’s oldest structures.

If you still have plenty of energy after this do continue to walk on the embankment of the creek all the way to the Shindagah area where the Heritage Village and the Diving Village are located.

These are living museums where potters, weavers and other local crafts people practice their traditional arts for the benefit of tourists

This article first appeared in http://thriftytraveller.wordpress.com