28 December 2004

Bastakia Quarter

One of the good things, apart from the obvious benefits of having friends visiting, is that we get to see parts of Dubai we don't go to in our normal routine. I think it's called touristing.

Today Naime and Thomas had finally finished sleeping off their busy German lives and we went in search of old Dubai. After a short walk along the Creek we turned into an unassuming-looking car park to find a whole neighbourhood of 19th century houses. They were initially build by Iranian traders who settled here because business was good, the name of the area stemming from the Southern Iranian district of Bastak.


Houses in the Bastakia Quarter near the Creek

The houses are designed in the local style with wind towers and an inner courtyard, all aiming to keep the interiors and their inhabitants cool. Wind towers are an ingenious form of early air conditioning. It uses convection to draw in cold air and breezes from the outside and funnels them into the room below, thus creating a pleasant atmosphere even on very hot days. The rooms are arranged around a central courtyard, usually planted with a tree for extra shade or featuring a fountain. The courtyard would be surrounded by covered walkways and there was often a covered corridor on the first floor as well. The outside walls were thick to keep out the heat and the sand, also so that the house could be extended upwards easily, should the family grow.


Courtyard and Walkways inside a Traditional House

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