A visit to ‘old’ Dubai

In a city where people are always talking about the next big thing (check out Dubailand for an idea of what I’m talking about), we thought it might be interesting to explore the ‘old’ region of Bastikia in Dubai.  Bastikia is the oldest residential area of the city and has recently been restored to house shops, art galleries, and restaurants.  The government has quietly ‘asked’ families occupying the old homes to leave to set forth the tourism project.  

When we visited, Bastikia was eerily quiet and most of the stores were closed.  We wandered through the narrow streets rather confused before being invited for tea by a group of men dressed in traditional white robes.   These men are former residents of Bastikia and the government has set up a place for them to spend time with each other.  Here they play dominoes, backgammon, watch soccer matches, smoke sheesha and eat together.  If ever there were a Middle Eastern version of DU (my fraternity at Tufts), this was it.  In fact, the conversation quickly turned to pro football as my new friend Amir had spent 6 years in Denver and is an avid football fan.  He even had recent scores for me–I found out the Pats won, but will have a difficult ‘match’ against Chicago next week. 

Amir insisted we stay for dinner.  It was fantastic and consisted of a huge tray/bowl of chicken with spinach and lemon.  5 of us sat on the floor in a circle as we used our hands to dip fresh flatbread into the meal.  We met about 15 other former residents and they were all very welcoming and kind–the Bedouins always welcome travelers for three days until they are able to find their way.

In a city where it might be easy to find people more concerned with the next big thing, it was a refreshing reminder that what makes a place truly special is the people that live there.

5 Responses to “A visit to ‘old’ Dubai”

  1. Auntie Annette Says:

    Hi Ed,

    I just left a message on Courtney’s site. You two are doing a great job at keeping us informed about these countries. We are learning!

    Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving in India and may the remainder of your travels continue to be safe and fun. Keep up the good work.

    Love you.

  2. Pauline Says:

    Hey Ed! This is fantastic, I am so glad that I get to vicariously live through your travels.
    I love your witty writing, and it keeps me smiling at my desk just thinking of you and Courtney traveling around the world. Inspires me to go perhaps this Spring.
    Happy Thanksgiving, and,
    in vino veritas.

  3. heba Says:

    why not egypt on the list?

  4. Jesse Miller Says:


    Certainly sounds like you’re eating well. Do you still have that god-like figure, or are you beginning to look like Walls?

  5. Auntie Annette Says:

    Hi Ed,
    Uncle Bud and I had a lovely weekend w/Beth, Mohamed and boys in Melbourne. Our Thankgiving dinner was wonderful and we had plenty of Turkey leftovers. You know how that goes!

    One of these days, I hope we can have one of the old time holidays again. Seems we are all so spread out now.

    I talk to your Mom almost daily while she is on her walk. I think that perhaps she will come for a visit with Mary, Caroline and Luke this winter. I certainly hope so! I haven’t met your nephew yet but he is a cutie. That’s it for now. I will be in touch again.

    By the way, Mohamed was also wondering why you didn’t have Egypt on your travel plan! You know you are welcome.
    Love you.

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