Created by Margaret Tully
Dubai with its ever changing face in the modernisation and imagination of its creators is a mecca for people looking for a luxurious and fantastical holiday destination.
In old Dubai you will find the roots of this wonderful and exciting destination. The Khor Dubai, which is a salt water creek that snakes its way through, splitting Deira and Bur Dubai. On one side you can see the tall towers of the relatively old, Dubai Creek Tower and on the other Al Bastikiya.
Al Bastikiya is where the creativity begins. Here you will find sandstone coloured Moorish buildings with fretwork stone windows, that when the strong sun flows through, beautiful shadows are cast within the cool buildings.
This is a gathering spot for local artists and those visitors looking for history and to ignite their creative juices. Art galleries are all around, you turn a corner and there are paintings lined up on the streets and through a dark opening you enter a courtyard where a café resides, and many pieces of art grace the walls and sculptures sit in the corners.
It is very odd at times to see the contemporary art sit well in this ancient place but they are destined for the shiny, glitzy and modern skyscrapers that are only a creek away.
The creek is an ever changing scene of business, the brightly coloured Dhows, which are wooden boats, are loaded with shipments that travel to the far flung parts of the world. It seems very primitive compared with the new Dubai but it is charming and makes for a perfect place to sit and dream and get ideas – which explains fully the imagination behind many of the modern constructions in new Dubai.
You can dig deeper into the history of Dubai by visiting the Dubai Museum which gives you detailed information set out in an interesting way, it also provides you with a much need respite from the hot, dry heat of the day.
This wonderful weather is why people come to Dubai and its many excellent beaches and perfect waters to cool off in. You can take to the water here in old Dubai but in an Abra, which are water taxis that are a basic wooden boat with two long benches on either side and a wooden canopy to shade you from the sun. They are a great way to see the many buildings which flank the creek.
Whilst in old Dubai you must visit the cities oldest building, Al Fahidi Fort, which was built in the 18th century, this is a low rise sandstone coloured building that has the gun points still in place with old cannons. It seems like a strange place for this building, in amongst the image of Dubai with its tall, glass and mirror fronted skyscrapers but this fort is the beginning, and its first defence.
At the end of the creek lies the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a wetland sanctuary for many birds, fish and crustaceans but it is the birds that most people come to see and can´t fail to notice. Especially when the flamingoes arrive, which is late Autumn, early Winter. There has been up to 500 of them at any one time. This creates a unique experience and is fast becoming the main attraction of this wonderful place. It is great at all times as a piece of tranquillity and nature in this somewhat mechanical world that is Dubai.
Back in the narrow streets of Al Bastakiya and the smells of the old Dubai are that of spices and soon you find yourself in a spice souk, endless opportunities to buy wonderful ingredients and blends that you have perhaps never heard of. They arrive from all over the world and are traded as they always were over hundreds of years. This atmosphere is really what makes this place historical, you can create history with the preservation of buildings but people who keep traditions alive and blend well with the modern movement of their city will be the window into the past but are always influencing the future.