A Visit to Al Bastakiya

I would joyfully accept a visit to Al Bastakiya in Dubai, again and again!  In the month of February, on a beautiful day of sun and patchy clouds (temperature 20o C) – I was out with my friend Patricia Al Fakhri, re-discovering history of the place which is almost 121 years old.  The charms of Al Bastakiya, a quaint historic district in Dubai (U.A.E) are to bestow upon the visitors a windfall tranquility shared with the freedom to halt here and there – be it to enhance your knowledge on herbs from Kashmir, Oman, Spain, Iran or, have a long rambling tour of art displays.  Art Galleries are housed in the once-upon-a-time residential quarters dating back to the 1890s.  Al Bastakiya is named after the Bastak region of Iran, from where many of the residents emigrated.  Most among them must have been prosperous traders who relocated themselves to other parts of Dubai depending upon how the scene changed for them with the discovery of oil.


Unique in its architecture, at the peak of its popularity, Al Bastakiya was supporting 60 housing units.  The wind tower, called barjeel, is in every house of Al Bastakiya.  The wealth of the family went by the barjeels a house had.  I noticed and learnt that the inner doors we pass are shorter than the main door, chiefly related to the cultural behaviours of society of that period.  The inner doors were erected shorter, so that when men entered the house, they had to bend down automatically; that way, they were prevented to gaze at women directly, before they entered the place.


Geeta Chhabra


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