Destinations Magazine

Lost Souls

By Thehedonista @the_hedonista
Lost SoulsMy husband calls this area the soul of Dubai. Perhaps it is, but I think not. It's quiet. Too quiet.
Just a falafel-throw away are the heaving and heavily fumed streets of Bur Dubai, an area of trade. Banks, bazaars, law courts and embassies are interspersed with crumbling apartment blocks and once-fashionable hotels. Possibly Bur Dubai is the soul. At least it is the heart - it sits smack in the middle of the City, between New Dubai and Deira. It beats 24/7, and without it, Dubai could very  possibly be a robot.
Lost SoulsBut the area Hambone calls the soul is Bastakiya. It's another world inside a heaving metropolis. Dubai's very own Vatican, I suppose, minus the crowds, cheap wine and Catholics. And if you want to visit this little treasure any time soon, you'd better hurry. The Dubai Summer is not a friend of this rustic outdoor area.
Lost SoulsMost of the buildings in Bastakiya date back to around the 1890s (I believe the Dubai Museum - walking distance from Al Bastakiya in cooler months - is the oldest with a birth-date of 1799). Way back then, they had been homes for the wealthy, but after oil was discovered and this wealth reached new heights, they moved onto bigger and more modern homes in newer residential areas. Bastakiya was left for expats, and eventually became an area of warehouses and accommodation for labourers. It was scheduled for demolition in 1989. But, thanks to the intervention of a concerned british expat, a letter to Prince Charles, a visit to the area and a bit of a nudge from all involved, it was given a reprive.
Lost SoulsDubai is old. It has existed as a settlement since 3000BC, prospering in a tiny way off the back of traveling trade and local pearl fishing. But there are no remnants of this time (besides some 6th century ruins fenced off in an indifferent way in the back streets of Jumeirah) - all architecture either eroded swiftly by the harsh desert environment or naturally disintegrated due to it's temporary nature. This is no Rome, Aleppo, Tunisia, Petra or Sanaa. The only buildings erected to last are those that stand more than 50 stories tall, and I wonder if even they will weather the shamals of the Dubai environment - both physical and economic.
Bastakiya is the closest we get, and few tourists see it, instead opting for malls, world's largest, world's tallest, world's most expensive monuments. Who wants to see the 'a bit old', smallish gathering of history and culture? I do.
Shortly after I started my photography course last year, we were asked to imitate the work of one of the artists from and I chose to attempt to capture the bold geometry of the work of Bruno Barney, because I looked at his work and immediately thought of the Bastakiya area. The architecture is basic, like building blocks, all in shades of ochre and terracotta, and with pathways narrow and uncluttered. But because the buildings are not laid in exact grid forms, the shade in the morning or evening angles its way across the crazy paving, creating a linear hotchpotch of dusty beauty.
Lost SoulsMost of the homes are open to tourists, and you may feel like an intruder as you creak open the heavy antique wooden doors, hunching yourself over to get through the stunted opening, asking anyone behind if it's ok to come in. The answer is always yes, and you will find galleries, cafes, coin museums, shops, calligraphers, spice stalls and cultural centres. You can easily walk around on your own, and cover it in a morning. Start with breakfast at Basta Art cafe. Then meander around the quiet alleys, falling into open spaces filled with (constantly changing) modern art, stopping in the galleries whenever the heat takes you, and fueling with turkish coffee and dates at XVA. Make sure you take the stairs to the rooftops at every opportunity (especially the Bastakiya nights Restaurant). From here, you can see another beautiful aspect of Bastakiya, the windtowers, inner courtyards and stone embellishments on the upper walls.
Possibly it is the soul of Dubai. Quiet, old fashioned, coloured like the desert, beautiful, welcoming and full of culture, but tiny, hidden, unknown by many, occasionally ignored by it's own people, and overwhelmed by the modern world.  It's a nicer thought than putting the local soul in the middle of the Burj Khalifa.
Lost SoulsIf you're not into accidentally barging into people's houses on your own, you can take a structured tour with the Sheikh Mohammad centre, or even sit with them for breakfast or lunch. Also look out for events such as the Bastakiya Art Fair - the link here includes a map of the area with the open houses listed - useful if you are going it on your own. You can find more of my pictures here, on the sandpit diaries
Lost Souls
Leave me a comment and make my day...

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Video: SalomonTV Takes Us on a Dream Trip to Nepal

    Video: SalomonTV Takes Dream Trip Nepal

    If you could go on a dream trip, where would it be? For trail runner Tyler Courville, it would be a visit to Nepal to go running with National Geographic... Read more

    The 23 May 2017 by   Kungfujedi
  • 5 Ice Cream Shops Keeping Chicago Cool This Summer

    Cream Shops Keeping Chicago Cool This Summer

    There’s no better sweet treat during summertime than ice cream. When the sun is out and temperatures climb higher, warm desserts just can’t compete. Read more

    The 23 May 2017 by   Urbanmatter Chicago
  • Coqui Coqui Residences

    Coqui Residences

    The chill and laid back subtle bohemian modern rustic elegance of the Coqui Coqui residences is undoubtedly the best way to drift away on a hectic Tuesday... Read more

    The 23 May 2017 by   Myparadissi
  • First Look: Christian Actress Meagan Good In Election Night Romance

    First Look: Christian Actress Meagan Good Election Night Romance

    ChristianNews We have the first look pics of Christian actress Meagan Good in an election night romance drama starring opposite Omari Hardwick. Read more

    The 23 May 2017 by   Firstladyb
  • Sedo Weekly Sales Led by

    Sedo released their weekly sales and was the top sale at $30,000. sold for $27,000. Songs and movies have both been titled Only You, so thi... Read more

    The 23 May 2017 by   Worldwide
  • Combining Posts

    Combining Posts

    Due to illness (not mine) it's been a while since I've been out either on the patch or further afield, today I finally made it out for a morning stroll around... Read more

    The 23 May 2017 by   Ashley Crombet-Beolens
  • Sir Roger Moore – Always Living in the Fast Lane…

    Roger Moore Always Living Fast Lane…

    Today at the age of 89 years, the film actor and former "James Bond", Sir Roger Moore passed away, after a short battle with cancer. He was the longest serving... Read more

    The 23 May 2017 by   Solarisastro