Cul­ture, Court­yards and Kaf­tans

LUXE City Guides - Dubai - - Dubai Marina / The Walk -

The tiny, old Al Fahidi His­toric district near the mouth of Dubai Creek af­fords a rare and fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse of the old Dubai with its ren­o­vated, but at­mo­spheric wind-tower houses. (Note most places are closed Fri­day). Start late af­ter­noon and take a taxi to the Al Musalla round­about to find Ma­jlis Gallery / Al Fahidi St. / 353 6233 / 10am-6pm SatThu / the­ma­jlis­ This con­verted court­yard house is home to an eclec­tic ar­ray of art of vary­ing abil­ity and style, ce­ramic and jew­ellery, in­clud­ing a se­lec­tion of cov­etable pieces by the tal­ented Oy­tun Cam­cigil (see Ad­vanced Shop­ping). Ad­ja­cent and just be­hind is the Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid Cen­tre / 353 6666 / 9am-5pm SunThu, 9am-1pm Sat, closed Fri / cul­ Stop in to en­joy a cup of Ara­bic coffee and dates, or get in­volved with one of the her­itage and walk­ing tours hosted by lo­cal Emi­ratis. Opp. Ma­jlis is the Basta Art Café / 353 5071 / with its laid-back, rus­tic court­yard and shady tree, per­fect for a snack or sooth­ing mint cha. With tea in your veins, turn right as you leave and then im­me­di­ate right again be­fore walk­ing past the quaint lit­tle Ori­ent Guest House / 351 9111 / to reach the cen­tury-old Her­itage House / 226 0286 / 8am-7.30pm Sat-Thu, 2.30-7.30pm Fri / on the cor­ner. This gallery-cum-cul­tural foun­da­tion in a beau­ti­fully re­stored court­yard house sup­ports art from lo­cal and re­gional artists – don’t miss the stun­ning Is­lamic cal­lig­ra­phy tucked away in the cor­ner. Exit right and you can’t miss lovely XVA Art Ho­tel (see Ac­com­mo­da­tion). This bou­tique-y ho­tel/art gallery/café is the per­fect re­treat from the heat and hurly burly. Browse the art, sip fresh mint lemon­ade in the court­yard and feast on sim­ple lo­cal veg­e­tar­ian fare. There’s even a sweet lit­tle air-con­di­tioned sa­lon and a good loo, Lou.

Re­freshed? Re­trace your steps back to Al Fahidi St. and swivel right. You will soon come across the fas­ci­nat­ing old Al Fahidi Fort on your right (see Ac­tiv­i­ties/Dubai Mu­seum). You can whip round this mu­seum in twenty min­utes no sweat. When you exit sim­ply head to­wards the Grand Mosque (yes, the one with all the domes), and take the lit­tle street that runs down the right side. Go as far as you can to­wards the river and then turn left into the rab­bit war­ren of nar­row al­leys (par­al­lel to the creek). Th­ese lanes lead to the Old Souk, a semi open-air mar­ket that no doubt once was redo­lent with Ara­bian magic, now sadly packed mostly with Ara­bian tat and touts. Al­righty, choices... If it’s early evening you could weave through the rest of the souk end­ing up at the Bank of Bar­oda on the creek, from which you can jump on a boat (abra) at Bur Dubai Abra Sta­tion and shut­tle over to the Deira side (one way costs 1Dhs), for the touristy but fun Spice and Gold Souks (see Shop­ping/Souks). Or, you could hire the whole abra (100Dhs/1hr) and have them chug you along the creek to the ma­rina at the Park Hy­att (see Ac­com.) for glammy al­fresco cock­tails at The Ter­race. What­ever you do, avoid cross­ing by car to Deira at rush hour as the traf­fic can be pur­ga­tory. Phew, and you’re done!

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