Dubai is not just skyscrapers, modernity and avant-garde. It is also a story and a tradition. And the best place to live this experience is a small neighborhood called Al Fahidi, based on the stories of the Arabian Nights.
Al Fahidi or Al Bastakiya is a journey to Dubai's past. It is a small area of historic buildings and streets, one of the oldest in the city, in the Bur Dubai district. It is the ideal place to enjoy local cuisine, art and exhibitions of all kinds.
The neighborhood of Al Fahidi, also known as Al Bastakiya, was founded in the 19th century in the estuary mouth area of Dubai. The buildings were constructed of stone, teak, plaster, sandalwood and other materials commonly used at the time. Thanks to their excellent state of conservation, today they are in perfect condition and have even been declared a World Heritage Site. Keep exploring!
1. Dubai Fort
Technically, Dubai Fort and Dubai Museum are the same thing, as the museum is located inside the fort. However, I preferred to separate them to tell you some interesting things about this building. It is the oldest building in the city.
The building dates back to 1787 and was made of stone, clay bricks and palm leaves. It is surprising that it is still in place, as it has undergone numerous damages and repairs throughout history. However, it was built to protect against pirates who besieged the coast. At the beginning of the 20th century, three large towers were added and since then the fortress has been used as a barracks, prison, palace and today as a museum.
2. Mosque Al Farooq
In the heart of Al Fahidi is the Al Farooq Mosque. Together with the Jumeraih Mosque, it is the only mosque in Dubai that opens its doors to tourists. The mosque and its surroundings look like a fairy tale. When you book your tour to visit Al Farooq, you'll find that it is inspired by Istanbul's iconic Blue Mosque and shares many architectural similarities, although not in terms of size; It is one of the best mosques in Dubai.
Visiting hours and tickets: Although the mosque is open to the non-Muslim public, the tour is not free. You need to book, so the best option is to see it as part of Dubai tours running tours. If you want free access, you need to contact the mosque staff via their website. The opening hours are as follows: Sunday to Thursday from 10:00 to 11:00 and from 16:15 to 18:00
- How to get there: The mosque is located in the northern part of the neighborhood. close to Dubai Creek and very close to Dubai Museum. There is parking nearby, but a taxi is best and there is also a bus stop very close, including the F70 line. There is also Al Fahidi Marine Abras station nearby if you want to cross the estuary.
- Dress code:
- For women: loose trousers and long skirts. Tight clothing is not permitted. Long sleeves and scarf. Transparent clothing is not permitted.
- For men: shorts below the knees are not permitted. Shirts and t-shirts must be at least shoulder length.
3. Al Fahidi and culture
Al Fahidi is also the ideal place for those who love to immerse themselves in local culture. Among the more than 50 historic homes that make up the heart of the neighborhood are countless art galleries, museums and historic buildings. Some of the best options to visit are:
- Money Museum: More than 500 historic coins of the UAE are on display here, dating back to before and after independence.
- Casa Simposio: They also offer cultural conferences for tourists, many of which are in English.
- Casa de Eventos: Offers events and activities such as craft demonstrations or small musical concerts.
- House of Calligraphy: linked to Arabic writing and its creative art form.
4. Dubai Museum
The first visit I recommend is undoubtedly the Dubai Museum. Before diving into the streets of Al Fahidi, it would be good to absorb the history of the place and see everything from another perspective. If you think museums aren't for you, don't worry. The exhibition is very well organized and the visit is very fun. It is organized in chronological order and includes historical pieces from the time when the city was a fishing village to the megalopolis it has become today.
Exhibitions range from dhows to typical boats. From a territory more than 1000 years old to a space dedicated to ancient and modern architecture and antiques of all kinds. This museum is where you will truly learn about the origins and essence of Dubai.
The museum is located in the Dubai Fort and is a must see. in Al Fahidi.
Prices and opening hours of the Dubai Museum: the entrance fee to the museum is low. The exchange rate is not 0.30 euros, but you can also donate for free. You see, the price is no excuse not to visit. from Saturday to Thursday, from 8.30am to 8.30pm; Friday, from 2.30pm to 8.30pm. Friday is a free day in Dubai, so it closes in the morning and is usually a little busier in the afternoon.
Go to the Dubai Museum: The museum is located in Dubai. Dubai Fort on the east side of Al Fahidi on 62A Street. It is very simple to get there, but I recommend you do it in two ways: or on foot if you are already in Bur Dubai, since the museum is in a central area of the neighborhood and it won't take long, take it with you when you travel or by car .
5. A walk through the streets of the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood
It's not just about visiting museums, monuments and much more. Al Fahidi is also a spectacular area for those who simply want to take a relaxing walk. The narrow, winding streets are reminiscent of the Arabian Nights and are the perfect place to bring your camera.
There are several bars in the area where you can drink something to drink. excellent typical coffees and teas, as well as good restaurants at affordable prices, ideal for tasting the local cuisine. If you want to bring back a souvenir from Dubai, Al Fahidi also offers craft shops, clothing shops and all kinds of opportunities to bring or give a souvenir.
6. Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding
For us Westerners, the customs of the United Arab Emirates can be difficult to understand. It is for this reason that the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding, or SMCCU, opened in 1998. The aim is to introduce visitors to the culture and customs of the country.
For this purpose, various activities are proposed, including traditional breakfasts, meals and dinners. Right in the center, they serve these typical meals around a Bedouin-style carpet, while your guide answers all your questions about their culture. An activity that I recommend 100%.
Opening hours and visits: The doors of the center are open to everyone, even if the activities offered are for a fee. You can discover them and book them on site or book them in advance and do it via their website. If you are interested I recommend you book in advance on the site. From Sunday to Thursday from 8:00 to 15:00 and on Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00. They close on Fridays as it is the day of rest in Islamic culture.
How to get there: The center is located in the heart of Al Fahidi, in a carefully restored typical wind tower. To get there you can walk, as the surrounding streets offer a very pleasant walk. If you choose to drive you won't have much difficulty finding a place to park, as there are several car parks nearby. The taxi is always the most comfortable and economical and by bus the closest stop is HV1 on the F70 line.
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7. Al Fahidi at night
I have already talked about walking the streets of Al Fahidi. But I think everything changes for the better when night falls in Dubai. The lighting of its emblematic buildings is very successful and completely transforms its streets. You can start at sunset, have a quiet meal in one of the restaurants and then admire the lights. The Al Farooq Mosque and Dubai Fort are particularly beautiful.