Bur Dubai (Old Town)

Bur Dubai is the oldest part of Dubai, so if you haven't visit Bur Dubai, you haven't actually been in Dubai! It is the historic city center, located at the Dubai Creek. On the opposite side of the creek is Deira, the old financial center, but much more modern then Bur Dubai. Most of the parts of Dubai that are situated south of Bur Dubai, were built less then 20 years ago. In the mid 1990s Bur Dubai was Dubai, and the rest was desert. Bur Dubai literally means Mainland Dubai. Since 2008, construction has going on on the extension of Dubai Creek, turning Bur Dubai into an island.

Here you can find the Ruler's Court, The Juma Grand Mosque (tallest minaret in Dubai), Al Fahidi Fort that hosts the Dubai Museum (oldest remaining buildign in Dubai), the Iranin Mosque, the only Hindu temple in the country as well as shopping streets and a traditional textile souk. From the creek you can take an large wooden restaurant boat or a small abra (water taxi) to Deira on the other side. Al Bastakiya historic area is situated just to the East of Dubai Museum. The area has been famous for its old buildings with courtyards and wind towers. Click here to go directly to Bastakiya. Shindagha, just to the North of Bur Dubai next to Dubai Creek, is also a historic part of Dubai, here you can find the historic Heritage Village and the historic ruler's house. Click here to visit Al Shindagha.

Bur Dubai is mostly a residential area with not so many hotels, and it feels less touristy then the modern parts of Dubai. A large number of inhabitans are from Indian, and the atmosphere is much more gritty with the souks, old houses, small traditional shops called "trading companies" and old boats, so it feels more then India then the Dubai most westeners got the picture of, but the truth is that this is the real Dubai!

We visited Bur Dubai on a Friday. Friday and Thursday are the weekly holidays, like Sunday in the western hemisphere, so many stores were closed during day, but opened later in the evening, but the souk was open all the time.



Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787-99, is Dubai's oldest existing building. It hosts The Dubai Museum, that presents the traditional way of life in the Emirate of Dubai and ancient discoveries.The fort was built of coral rock in Portugese style to protect the city, and was historically the home of the regent.
Because of the sunny weather, and the fact that it turned dark already 5-6 o'clock (and it was grey the day before), made us decide to not visit the museum. Instead we walked around the streets of Bur Dubai, that felt like a museum of its own.


A dhow, a wooden boat in the courtyard of Dubai Museum. Made for pearl fishing.


Entrance to Dubai Museum

The area around the fort

Al Fahidi Fort/Dubai Museum   Dubai Museum   Dubai Museum


Juma Grand Mosque at the square in front of Dubai Museum has the tallest minaret in Dubai. It has 9 large cupolas and 45 small ones, was built in the year 1900, and renovated in 1998.


Building with traditional architecture and small shops in Bur Dubai

Stores near Dubai Museum, closed on Friday (national holiday)

Arabian Courtyard, a 4 star hotel at Al Fahidi street opposite the Dubai Museum


Bur Dubai streetscape

Bur Dubai streetscape



Windmill houses in the Old Souk, the oldest kind of air condition   Historic Old Souk   Old Souk and Juma Grand Mosque

Old textile souk. The salesmen are very pushing! It is interesting to to through this passage though, you really got the feeling of Middle East here, or some traditional city in Africa or India.


Dubai's only Hindu temple is located in the Old Souk

Textile souk. Note the sign to the right, "Indonesian Trading"


Deira and Dubai Creek seen from Bur Dubai.

An abra, water taxi, that goes across Dubai Creek to the Deira side. These boats are really small, old and built in wood.


An abra filled with commuting locals

Wonder bus, a tour bus for tourists that goes on both water and land!

Old meats very old: an old fort and Bank of Barroda, 60's modernism   Strange Trading! With the faces of the two sheikhs!   Old Souk and Juma Grand Mosque

Police car of Dubai, green and white   Streetscape of gritty Bur Dubai   Streetscape of gritty Bur Dubai

The Iranian Mosque has a beautiful tile work in blue and grey patterns, covering the facade and the dome. At sunset when taking this photo, there was the call for prayer.


Details of the dome and roof of the Iranian Mosque

The green minaret of the Iranian Mosque


Another Iranian Mosque   Iranian Mosque   Streetscape, minaret of Iranian Mosque

Ministry of Finance, a postmodern building   HSBC:s postmodern office building   Central Bank, a modern building in traditional style

Bollywood. This large souvenirs shop is proof of the large Indian influence in Bur Dubai. I bought several souvenirs there, like some miniature of Burj Khalifa.


All street signs are in both Arabic and English

The harbour where the cruise ships arrive

Post office/residential building, Al Fahidi Street   Streetscape, Al Fahidi Street   Backside of Al Fahidi Fort and modern building

Dhow at Dubai Creek   Deira and popular restaurant at Dubai Creek   St George Hotel, Deira

From the right: Bur Dubai, Al Bastakiya, Deira and Dubai Creek seen from Shindagha   Small mosque, Bur Dubai   Juma Grand Mosque



Ali Bin Abi Street   Ali Bin Abi Street   Neon lights at Ali Bin Abi St

lIluminated backside of HSBC Bank, riverside   A dhow in Dubai Creek, with neon lights!   HSBC Bank, front

A roundabout outside Bastakiya   The souk area at sunset    




Al Bastakiya is the oldest residential area in Dubai (together with Al Shindagha), the oldest parts were built in the 1690s. It is situated along Dubai Creek and is famous for its narrow lanes and wind towers, that are the first kind of air conditioning. Al Fahidi Fort is also considered to be in the Bastakiya district. Bastakiya was built by rich Persian merchants. After the discovering of oil, the rich families have relocated to other parts of Dubai, however. In the 1970s, half of Bastakiya was destroyed to make way for a new building for the ruler of the emirate of Dubai, while the rest felt into disrepair. In 1989, there were plans to demolish the rest of the area, but Rayner Otter, an architect who lived there and that renovated his house, started a campaign to preserve the area. He wrote to the British prince Charles, and met him later that year in Bastakiya. Shortly after it was decided to preserve the area and in 2005 a restoration of the whole area begun. Today these quarters are really interesting with its smal historical buildings in good shape. There are small museums, all where closed during our visit though, since we visited on a Friday (holiday).

Al Bastakiya consist of old windmill houses that have been restored. The Bastakiya quarters are located in Bur Dubai, near the Dubai Creek. The tallest structure is the Bastakiya Mosque. Some of Deira's modern buildings are visible behind.

Bastakiya windmill houses   Part of the wall, windmill house   Only remaining part of the old wall

Close-up of the old wall   Arabic Calligraphy House   The wind towers are up to 15m tall

Historic Bastakiya with Twin Towers in Deira in the background


Details of Al Bastakiya

Al Bastakiya Mosque


Architectural Heritage Society

Coins Museum

Al Bastakiya windmill house and graffiti


Narrow lanes of Bastakiya

Al Bastakiya skyline   Al Bastakiya Mosque   These wind towers are the oldest form of air conditioning

Bastakiyah Nights Restaurant. housed in Bastakiyah's oldest house, built 1890-1940 in 3 phases   The flag and the faces of the sheihks - of course!   Bastakiyah Nights Restaurant



The Ruler's Court. Half of the historic Bastakiyah quarters were torn down to build this office building for the ruler of Dubai! A very bad decision, the only thing you see is a fence   Outside Ruler's Court   Dubai Creek and Deira

Al Fahaidi Water taxi station in Dubai Creek and Deira   Deira abra stations and Dubai Creek   Deira and Dubai Creek

Monument resembling the old windmill houses   Monument for environment improvement   Monument

Bedouin Lifestyle festival   Bedouin Lifestyle festival   Bedouin Lifestyle festival

Park and promenade along Al Seef Road, at Dubai Creek   Al Bastakiya and Ruler's Court   Grand Souk and Juma Grand Mosque

Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai and Shindagha   Dubai Creek and Deira   A mosque, a plane and a bird!

Al Shandagah Watch Tower   Al Shandagah Watch Tower   Al Shandagah metro station