Everything in Dubai seems to be brand new, with ever more sparkling skyscrapers rising constantly. For a glimpse into a different kind of Dubai, head to the charming Al Bastakiya district in northern Dubai. This area, also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, has its origins in the 1800s.
Unfortunately in the 1980s the fever for a new way of life destroyed most of Al Fahidi, as it made way for the development of new office buildings. In 1989 the entire area was ordered to be demolished but was saved at the last minute by Rayner Otter, a British architect, and his desperate plea to Prince Charles, who in the end helped spare and preserve this historic gem.
The neighborhood has since been revamped and it has found a new life as a calm yet cultural hub for those seeking a different side of Dubai. The area is filled with charming little cafés and restaurants as well as several art galleries and shops.
XVA is a one-stop treasure in Bastakiya. The old building houses XVA Art, a boutique hotel and an interesting and brave art gallery. The lovely inner courtyard has a wonderful café that serves traditional mint tea and dates as well as a fine selection of local vegetarian dishes.
Al Bastakiya’s narrow streets are especially atmospheric after dark