There are very few notable authentic arabic areas to visit here in Dubai. And for the few ones, the best place to visit within reach is the Bastakiyah in Bur Dubai. Shaikha writes a very interesting blog entry describing it’s history here. I never knew they had walking tours, and I’ve been living in the UAE since 1990! Talk about ignorance. Anyway, that goes into my bucket list.
While my brother was here, I took him and his wife to the Bastakiyah where we walked around just enjoying the Arabic architecture- drinking in the abundance of wind towers while getting lost in its narrow alleys called sikeeks. Apparently, the government has maintained the original look and feel of the Bastakiyah in the old days. A piece of the old wall of Dubai dating back to the 1800 is still standing there.
There were so many interesting doors of different shapes and designs and we were tempted to go inside each one. There were guest houses (boutique hotels) where one can stay overnight in Old Dubai. It was a hot afternoon. We were thirsty and wanted a place to rest when we found ourselves in the cool courtyard of XVA Cafe.
XVA cafe is an art gallery slash boutique hotel and they also host different art events. Paulo Coelho even held his book launch for the “Witches of Portobello” here in 2007. You can find art pieces of different artists in the different parts of the courtyard. The architecture is very Arabic, but there was an air of modernism alluded by the art pieces on display. We felt very relaxed sitting in the courtyard and my sister in law ordered for us some mint lemonade to cool us down.
They have a total of only 8 rooms available for renting (if someone knows i got the number wrong please correct me) each one uniquely designed by a famous designer or artist (including one by Karim Rashid). We didnt get to see any of the rooms because they were full that day, but it would be a really awesome experience to stay in the place.
The cafe has won Timeout Dubai’s best cafe numerous times before and offers only vegetarian meals. But from a lot of the reviews regarding their food, everything seems to be good. I would love to try their eggplant burger when I go back.
It’s really well worth the find and I would recommend everyone to go and visit there.