Where to go in Dubai’s Old Town

Where to go in Dubai’s Old Town

Exploring Dubai’s Old Town: A Comprehensive Guide

Dubai, the vibrant city of wonders, is not just about towering skyscrapers, luxurious malls, and modern architecture. It also has a rich historical and cultural side waiting to be explored. Dubai’s Old Town, also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, is a must-visit destination for those seeking authentic experiences and an insight into the city’s past. Let’s delve deeper into this intriguing part of Dubai, highlighting its historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and unique experiences.

Historical Landmarks

The Old Town is home to several historical landmarks, including Al Fahidi Fort, which now serves as the Dubai Museum. This fort, built in 1787, is the oldest building in Dubai and offers a glimpse into the city’s history through various galleries showcasing traditional Arab houses, ancient artifacts, and traditional boats. Another significant landmark is the Al Bastakiya Quarter, a maze-like neighborhood of wind-tower houses that date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cultural Attractions

For those interested in art and culture, the Old Town is a paradise. The Gallery Al Quoz is a popular art gallery located in the Al Fahidi neighborhood, showcasing contemporary Middle Eastern art. The Al Serkal Avenue in the Al Quoz area is a hub for galleries, studios, and workshops. It’s a great place to meet local artists, attend art exhibitions, and workshops.

Authentic Experiences

To truly experience the Old Town’s charm, join a heritage tour. These tours provide an in-depth look into Dubai’s history, taking you through the narrow alleys of Al Bastakiya, exploring old houses, and learning about the traditional way of life. Don’t miss out on trying authentic Emirati cuisine at one of the local restaurants or cafes. The Old Town is also famous for its traditional markets, like the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk, where you can haggle for souvenirs.

Table: Key Attractions in Dubai’s Old Town

Al Fahidi Fort (Dubai Museum)Oldest building in Dubai showcasing city’s history
Al Bastakiya QuarterMaze-like neighborhood of wind-tower houses
Gallery Al QuozContemporary Middle Eastern art gallery
Al Serkal AvenueHub for galleries, studios, and workshops

Where to go in Dubai’s Old Town

Exploring Dubai’s Old Town: A Deep Dive into Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood

Dubai’s Old Town, also known as the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, is a significant part of Dubai’s rich cultural heritage. Located along the southern shores of Dubai Creek, this area has been a thriving community since the late 19th century.

Historical Background:

Originally inhabited by pearl divers, merchants, and other craftsmen, Al Fahidi Neighborhood is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in Dubai. It was named after Sheikh Butt Al Fahid, a pearl merchant who built his house there in the late 1800s. Over the years, this area evolved into a thriving commercial hub and cultural melting pot, with influences from Persian, Indian, African, and other communities.

Significance and Urban Development:

Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood’s significance goes beyond its historical importance. It played a crucial role in Dubai’s urban development, with the construction of the first school and hospital in the area. Today, it stands as a testament to Dubai’s past and serves as a reminder of its diverse cultural heritage.

Exploring the Wonders of Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood: A Comprehensive Guide

This guide aims to provide you with an in-depth outline for exploring Dubai’s Old Town, focusing on its historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and authentic experiences. By the end of this guide, you will have gained a deeper appreciation for Dubai’s past and present.

Historical Landmarks:

  • Al Fahidi Fort: This historic fort was built in the late 18th century and served as the residence of the ruling family. Today, it houses the Dubai Museum, which offers visitors a glimpse into Dubai’s history.
  • Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding: This cultural center offers traditional Arabic tours, including a visit to a local house and a falconry display.
  • Jumeirah Mosque: This beautiful mosque, open to non-Muslim visitors, offers guided tours and cultural experiences.

Cultural Attractions:

  • Souk Al Fahidi: This traditional Arabian market offers a variety of goods, from textiles and spices to jewelry and souvenirs.
  • Art Galleries: Dubai’s Old Town is home to several art galleries, showcasing works by local and international artists.
  • Al Seef: This waterfront promenade offers stunning views of Dubai Creek and features traditional Arabian architecture.

Authentic Experiences:

  • Traditional Arabic Coffee and Tea: Sample authentic Arabic coffee or tea in one of the many traditional cafes in the area.
  • Falconry Display: Witness this ancient art form up close with a falconry display at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
  • Traditional Boat Ride: Take a traditional Arabian dhow boat ride along Dubai Creek for a unique perspective of the city.

Where to go in Dubai’s Old Town

Historical Landmarks

Al Fahidi Fort

Al Fahidi Fort, built around 1787, is one of the oldest structures in Dubai. This fort once served as a residential palace for the rulers of Dubai and was also used to house prisoners and defend against invasions. With its unique architecture and historical significance, Al Fahidi Fort is a must-visit for tourists. Visiting hours: 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM, ticket price: AED 3 for adults and free for children under the age of six. For more information, contact +971 4 353 6026.

Dubai Museum

Overview: The Dubai Museum, located in Al Fahidi Fort, offers visitors a glimpse into the rich history of Dubai. It showcases various artifacts and exhibits related to ancient traditions, pearl diving, maritime history, and desert life. Historical importance: The museum is a crucial part of Dubai’s cultural heritage. Visiting hours: 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM, ticket price: AED 3 for adults and free for children under the age of six. For more information, contact +971 4 353 6026.

Jumeirah Mosque

Architectural style: This beautiful mosque, built in 1979, is an excellent example of modern Islamic architecture. Its white marble exterior and intricate geometric designs make it a stunning cultural landmark. Visiting hours: Guided tours are available from Saturday to Thursday between 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM. Ticket price: AED 20 for adults, AED 10 for children below ten years old, and free for children under six. For more information or to book a tour, contact +971 4 330 9669.

The House of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Description: This elegant house, built in 1958, was once the residence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the current ruler of Dubai. It offers visitors a glimpse into the life and traditions of the ruling family. Historical importance: The house is a significant part of Dubai’s heritage, providing valuable insights into the history and culture of the city. Visiting hours: Open from Sunday to Thursday between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Ticket price: AED 10 for adults and free for children under ten years old. For more information, contact +971 4 331 2855.

E. The Bastakiya Quarter

Historical background: The Bastakiya Quarter, also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, is one of the oldest residential areas in Dubai. It was originally inhabited by Persian merchants and artisans. Architectural styles: The area is known for its traditional wind-tower houses and narrow streets lined with coral-stone buildings. Notable buildings: Some popular buildings in the Bastakiya Quarter include the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, XVA Art Gallery, and the Al Fahidi Coffee Shop. Authentic experiences: Visitors can enjoy traditional Arabic coffee at the cafes, shop for handicrafts, and take a guided tour to learn about the history of the area.

Where to go in Dubai’s Old Town

I Cultural Attractions

Discover the rich cultural heritage of Dubai through its various attractions. Here are some must-visit destinations that offer unique experiences and insights into the region’s history and traditions.

The Arabian Tea House

The Arabian Tea House is a charming venue nestled in the heart of Bastakiya, an historic neighborhood in Dubai. This traditional tea house offers visitors an authentic Middle Eastern experience in a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.

Description of the Venue

Decorated with intricate Arabesque patterns and adorned with traditional textiles, The Arabian Tea House exudes a sense of warmth and hospitality. The low seating on colorful cushions invites guests to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Activities, Menu, and Contact Information

Visitors can enjoy a variety of hot and cold beverages, including traditional Arabian tea and coffee. The tea house also offers a selection of light bites and pastries.

Address: Bastakiya, Al Fahidi Street, Dubai.
Phone: +971 4 353 6282
Email: [email protected]

The Al Fahidi Gallery and XVA Gallery

The Al Fahidi Gallery and XVA Gallery, both located in Bastakiya, are must-visit destinations for art lovers. These galleries showcase the works of local and regional artists, providing a unique glimpse into Dubai’s artistic scene.

Overview of the Galleries and Their Exhibitions

The Al Fahidi Gallery, established in 1993, is the oldest contemporary art space in the UAE. It features a diverse program of exhibitions that highlight various aspects of Middle Eastern culture and contemporary art.

XVA Gallery, founded in 1993 as the first fine art gallery in Dubai, showcases works by both established and emerging artists from the UAE and beyond. The gallery focuses on contemporary Middle Eastern and South Asian art.

Visiting Hours, Ticket Prices, and Contact Information

Al Fahidi Gallery: Sunday – Thursday, 10am – 6pm, Friday by appointment only.
XVA Gallery: Sunday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Both galleries are free to enter.
Address for both: Bastakiya, Al Fahidi Street, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 353 6182 (Al Fahidi Gallery) and +971 4 353 6155 (XVA Gallery)

The Gold and Spice Souks

The Gold and Spice Souks, located in the Deira area of Dubai, offer a vibrant and bustling shopping experience that is steeped in history and tradition.

Description of the Souks and Their Historical Significance

The Gold Souk, also known as the Gold Market, is famed for its dazzling displays of gold jewelry and ornaments. The Spice Souk, or the Old Souk, is renowned for its fragrant spices and colorful herbs.

Both souks have a long history dating back to the early days of Dubai’s trade economy. The Gold Souk is said to have been in existence since the 1940s, while the Spice Souk can be traced back to the late 18th century.

Shopping Experiences, Haggling Tips, and Recommended Items

Visitors are encouraged to haggle for the best price when purchasing items from the souks. This is a common practice and can be an exciting part of the shopping experience.

Recommended items to buy at the Gold Souk include gold jewelry, watches, and coins. At the Spice Souk, visitors can purchase a variety of spices, herbs, and dried fruits.

Traditional Boat Tours (Abra)

Traditional boat tours, or Abra, offer a unique perspective of Dubai’s stunning waterfront and historic areas.

Description of the Boat Tours and Their Historical Context

Abra boats have been a part of Dubai’s transportation system since the early 20th century. These wooden boats, traditionally powered by large outrigger sails or engines, have played a crucial role in connecting Dubai’s various neighborhoods and districts.

Taking a traditional abra ride provides visitors with an authentic experience that allows them to appreciate Dubai’s history and culture from a different perspective.

Cost, Hours of Operation, and Contact Information

The cost of an abra ride is very affordable, with a one-way ticket priced at just AED Tours operate daily from early morning until late evening.

Address: Various locations along Dubai Creek

Where to go in Dubai’s Old Town

Authentic Experiences

Traditional Arabic Dinner (Al Fanar Restaurant)

Step into the enchanting world of authentic Arabian culture at link, an establishment that transports you back in time with its traditional ambiance and delectable cuisine. Located in the heart of Dubai, this iconic restaurant is a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable dining experience. The restaurant’s interior is adorned with traditional lanterns, intricate Arabesque patterns, and Middle Eastern artwork that create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The menu features a variety of authentic Arabian dishes, from succulent shawarma and kebabs to fragrant rice dishes and delicious sweets. Prices range from AED 100-300 ($27-84) per person. For reservations, contact +971 4 336 5050 or email [email protected].

Falconry Experience

Indulge in a unique and thrilling adventure with the falconry experience. This ancient Arabian tradition dates back over 4,000 years and is deeply rooted in the Bedouin culture. Falconry involves training birds of prey, primarily falcons, to hunt wild game. At various locations across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, visitors can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience under the expert guidance of experienced falconers. Participants get to hold, fly, and learn about these majestic birds. Prices start from AED 300 ($82) per person for a basic experience lasting 1 hour. Operating hours vary, so be sure to check the website or contact the service provider for more information. For bookings and inquiries, call +971 50 854 2635 or email [email protected].

Traditional Arabic Art Classes

Unlock your creativity and immerse yourself in the rich artistic heritage of Arabia with traditional Arabic art classes. These workshops offer participants a chance to learn various traditional art forms, such as calligraphy, henna painting, and Arabesque design. Classes are led by experienced artists who provide personalized instruction, helping students master the techniques required to create beautiful pieces of art. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, these classes offer something for everyone. Prices range from AED 50-200 ($14-55) per session. For schedules and bookings, visit the link website or call +971 4 332 5600.

Camel Ride Experiences

Experience the history and culture of the Arabian Peninsula in a unique way with a camel ride experience. This iconic mode of transportation has been an integral part of desert life for thousands of years. Camel rides offer visitors a chance to explore the vast deserts while gaining insight into the Bedouin way of life. Most camel ride experiences last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours and can be arranged at various locations across Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Prices start from AED 50 ($14) for a short ride. Hours of operation may vary, so be sure to contact the service provider for more information. To book your camel ride adventure, contact +971 50 111 4243 or email [email protected].

Where to go in Dubai’s Old Town


Dubai’s Old Town, also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, is an enchanting destination that takes visitors on a captivating journey through time. Recap: From the captivating Al Fahidi Fort and its adjacent art galleries to the bustling Al Fahidi Souk, Dubai’s Old Town offers a myriad of authentic experiences. History enthusiasts will be enthralled by the Arabian House, which showcases traditional Dubai architecture, while cultural aficionados can indulge in a variety of art exhibits and workshops.

Key Historical Landmarks:

The Old Town’s historical landmarks include the Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Museum, and the Arabian House.

Cultural Attractions:

Visitors can immerse themselves in Dubai’s rich cultural heritage by visiting the numerous art galleries, traditional coffee shops, and authentic souks.

Recap of the key historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and authentic experiences in Dubai’s Old Town

B. Recommendations for planning a visit to Dubai’s Old Town based on personal interests and preferences:

For History Enthusiasts:

Spend a day exploring the Dubai Museum, housed within the Al Fahidi Fort. The museum offers insights into Dubai’s history from its humble beginnings as a pearling and fishing village to its transformation into a global metropolis.

For Cultural Aficionados:

Visit the XVA Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, and Tashkeel to witness an impressive collection of contemporary art. For a more authentic experience, head to the traditional coffee shops and engage in conversations with locals.

For Foodies:

Savour the local delicacies at the Al Fahidi Souk or indulge in traditional Arabian cuisine at Al Dawaar Revolving Restaurant, offering stunning views of Dubai Creek.