Established in the early 20th century and fully restored just before the turn of the 21st, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is an authentic taste of the Dubai of old, before this cruise port and global tourist destination became the metropolis it is today.
The Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is located directly adjacent to Al Seef Dubai and conveniently offers an opportunity for tourists in Dubai to explore both, one for the shopping and dining in an artificial-yet-charming old world setting, while the former offers greater authenticity.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood sits on part of Dubai’s original city wall from the 1800s and still the district adjacent to the Ruler of Dubai’s diwan, or historic Royal Court – although HH Sheikh Mohammed and his Executive Council now conduct most of the city’s major business from their offices near the summit of the Emirates Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road.
This area of around 50 historic buildings contains labyrinthine lanes and charming locally-owned Arabic stores selling sprices, perfumes, jewelry and clothing. There are also museums, craft shops, cultural exhibits, courtyard cafes, art galleries and two boutique hotels – one of which is a stone building with a striking central courtyard dominated by leafy trees. You step through the doorway and feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
The narrow walking lanes are flanked by sand-stone houses built with traditional building materials such as stone, gypsum, teak, sandal wood, fronds and palm wood and topped with wind towers, providing the natural air-conditioning of yesteryear.
Originally built in the 1900s by merchants from the Persian town of Bastak, who settled in Dubai to take advantage of tax breaks granted by the sheikh, the area fell into disrepair as modern Dubai grew up around it, but was saved from demolition in the 1980s and fully restored.
You can easily explore this area over the course of an hour or so, or you can join a guided tour with the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. The district also hosts a number of seasonal cultural and artistic events such as Sikka Art Fair, Artists-in-Residence Programme, Heritage Week, National Day Events and religious celebrations.
The Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is also home to the fantastic Arabian Tea House restaurant, which sits in a building that was once the home of a prominent pearl merchant.
The secret garden-like courtyard has turquoise benches, white rattan chairs, lace curtains and beautiful flowers where you can dine of a range of popular Emirati dishes and Arabic teas.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is located on the Dubai Creek near Al Seef Dubai. The nearest metro station is Burjuman Metro station (green and red line intersection), which is about a ten to fifteen minute walk away.