Al Bastakiya, the old Iranian district of Dubai

Updated on 03.06.2018

Night view of Bastakiya district, in historic old Dubai ©Odyfolio

Built by Sunni Iranian merchants at the end of the 19th century, the Bastakiya district is certainly the most typical of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. It is good to stroll through the shady lanes, stroll through the art galleries or take a refreshing drink in an inner courtyard.

History of Bastakiya

The district of Bastakiya has its origins in a community of Sunni Iranian merchants from the locality of Bastak, who settled in Dubai at the end of the 19th century. Attracted by the status of free zone, the dynamism of the port and the protection offered by fort Al Fahidi nearby, they developed this district of Dubai and built beautiful homes there.

During the second half of the twentieth century the district, formerly opulent, served as a residence for poor workers in Dubai, such as taxi drivers. In the 1980s, the municipality became aware of the need to protect the historic heritage and in the early 2000s conservation work was undertaken, rehabilitating the neighborhood and transforming it into a place frequented by tourists.

Wind tower in Dubai's Bastakiya district ©Odyfolio

Visit of Bastakiya

The district of Bastakiya is a maze of narrow streets, where you will find a few restaurants, cafes, guest houses, small museums and art galleries.

Near the Great Mosque, pay attention to the wall, which is a vestige of the ancient fortifications of the city.

Dubai Coin Museum, Bastakiya District ©Odyfolio

Art galleries

The district of Bastakiya is a popular place for local artists. You can see their works on display at Ave Gallery, XVA Gallery, or Majlis Gallery, the oldest art gallery in Dubai from 1970.

Some art galleries also sell local crafts.

Bastakiya Restaurants

The neighborhood offers a few restaurants with simple local cuisine, usually in a beautiful shady courtyard. The prices are very reasonable, the atmosphere relaxed, and the overall experience completely different from other standardized restaurants in the city.

One example is Bastakiah Nights restaurant, at the entrance of Bastakiya, creek side.

Restaurant in an inner courtyard of Bastakiya district in Dubai, UAE ©Odyfolio

Bastakiya Hotels

There are two guest houses in the district of Bastakiya. Our favorite is the XVA Art Hotel. The alternative choice is the # hotel:Orient Guest House|4210#.

Access map

The district of Bastakiya is easily accessible. From the banks of the Creek (if you come from the Al Khabeer soul), the entrance is at the Bastakiah Nights restaurant; from the Dubai Museum, take the 19th Al Fahidi Street.

Map with location of Bastakiya district, in Old Dubai, United Arab Emirates ©OpenStreetMap contributors