Al Fahidi Historic District

Top choice in Bur Dubai

Traffic fades to a quiet hum in the labyrinthine lanes of this nicely restored heritage area formerly known as the Bastakiya Quarter. Its narrow walking lanes are flanked by sand-coloured houses topped with wind towers, which provide natural air-conditioning. Today there are about 50 buildings containing museums, craft shops, cultural exhibits, courtyard cafes, art galleries and two boutique hotels.

The quarter was built in the early 1900s by merchants from the Persian town of Bastak, who settled in Dubai to take advantage of tax breaks granted by the sheikh. By the 1970s, though, the buildings had fallen into disrepair, and residents began moving on to newer, more comfortable neighbourhoods. Dedicated locals, expats and even the UK's Prince Charles prevented the area's demolition in the 1980s. Hidden within the restored maze, which is easily explored on an aimless wander, is a short section of the old city wall from 1800. For a more in-depth experience, join a guided tour with the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

Next to the district is the bustling waterfront tourist development of Al Seef.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bur Dubai attractions

1. XVA Gallery

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Tucked into the Al Fahidi Historic District since 2003, XVA has a knack for ferreting out top-notch up-and-comers from around the Middle East and India…

2. Coin Museum

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This is a highly specialised museum which will appeal to anyone with an interest in rare and historic coins. Located near the Diwan Mosque in the Al…

3. Alserkal Cultural Foundation

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This nonprofit foundation runs the most dynamic cultural space in the Al Fahidi Historic District. Galleries showcasing traditional and cutting-edge works…

4. Coffee Museum

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This cute private museum in a historic Emirati home offers an aromatic bean-based journey around the world and back in time. Learn about the importance of…

5. Diwan Mosque

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The distinctive ornate flat dome and slender minaret of this snowy white mosque watch over the Al Fahidi Historic District. Non-Muslims may only visit the…

7. Majlis Gallery

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Dubai's oldest fine-art gallery was founded in 1989 by British expat Alison Collins and presents mainly paintings and sculpture by international artists…

8. Dubai Museum

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The city's main historical museum charts Dubai's turbo-evolution from fishing and pearling village to global centre of commerce, finance and tourism. It…