Tag Archives: Gallery

Bastakia: Art, Heritage and Crafts in Dubai

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The Emirates

A stroll through Dubai’s Bastakia Quarter is like a stroll back in time, or a walk through a movie set. If you take the chance to step away from Dubai’s bustling, shiny shopping malls or its luxury beaches for a walk through this historical neighbourhood, you will find peace, beautiful architecture, and Middle Eastern art and heritage.

A beautiful mosque stands at the edge of the Bastakia Quarter. Photo © Kathryn Parsons

Bastakia in Bur Dubai is easily reached by heading to Al Fahidi metro station and walking up Al Satwa Road towards the creek. Once you reach Bastakia, immerse yourself in the area by walking around the tiny alleys and seeing what you discover! The neighbourhood is home to the Coin Museum, the Coffee Museum, various art galleries, craft shops and cafes set in sunny courtyards. Most of my purchases during my visit to Dubai are from Bastakia — there’s a wonderful incense shop where I brought some oud crystals for burning and an art shop where a lovely man wrote my name in Arabic and framed it. There are also shops filled with Iranian pottery, handicrafts and jewellery.

Often named ‘Old Dubai’, Bastakia is also home to the remnants of Dubai’s old wall, constructed in 1800 from gypsum and coral. The neighbourhood has recently undergone restoration and is now a completely pedestrianised heritage centre, so it’s a perfect, peaceful place to see traditional Middle Eastern buildings and visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Here you can also go upstairs for great views of the neighbourhood.

Shops, cafes, galleries and museums are hidden in the narrow winding allies. Photo © Kathryn Parsons

My favourite part of the Bastakia Quarter is the Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Café, and not just because the food is delicious — this courtyard café is dreamy! In my opinion, there’s no better word to sum up the atmosphere as you sit down under the white canopies amidst the trees and flowers, order a cool minty lemonade filled with ice, and enjoy your surroundings. They also boast a selection of over a hundred different kinds of tea from all over the world, and an impressive variety of dishes to keep you going throughout the day, from traditional breakfasts, to barbecue, to hearty salads and afternoon teas.

Mosaic graffiti spotted in Bastakia. Photo © Kathryn Parsons

One of the best things I found about visiting Bastakia was that it was an ideal place to visit with others or alone. I first went with a group of people, which was ideal for meandering around the lanes, checking out the art and enjoying a nice lunch — even if we did occasionally lose somebody to the next alluring alleyway or art gallery! But it was also great to visit the quarter alone. The second time I went, I was visiting my sister who worked in Dubai at the time, so I had a few days to entertain myself. Aside from being invited to lunch by two men on the metro who were on their way to their mother’s house, I spent the afternoon in uninterrupted peace walking round Bastakia. I got to spend as long as I wanted pondering the interesting graffiti, sampling the scents of each incense and, best of all, drinking coffee and writing alone in the serene courtyard café.

Featured image © Kathryn Parsons


Motuihe Island

Motuihe Island is an uninhabited island near Auckland. It can be reached by a 30-minute ferry or by private boat.

View from the East

1. The island from the air, looking east. The island has a long narrow neck at the west, separating the northern and southern shores.

Northern Harbour


2. The northern harbour. During the summer the harbour is scattered with boats, testifying its popularity among both locals and tourists.

Northern Beach

3. The northern beach. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, which are among the finest white sandy beaches in the Hauraki Gulf.

Southern Beach

4. The southern beach. The pine trees along the southern coastline are the remnants of the farming time during the nineteenth century.

The Wharf

5. The Wharf. Located on the southern side of the island where, due to the tide, the water is too dangerous to swim in.

Island Graveyard

6. The graveyard. The island was used as a quarantine for almost 50 years during the last century, thus has witnessed some of the new immigrants spending their last days fighting disease after being denied entry.

Western Cliff

7. The western cliff. Where there is a nice view of the nearby islands. The cliff is very steep, so be careful.

Having been used successively as a Maori settlement place, farmland, quarantine, internment camp and naval training base, the small island has a somewhat colourful history. It became a recreation reserve in the late twentieth century, with Kiwi being introduced in 2009. So you might well get a chance to see them in the wild should you choose to visit, but make sure you spend the night camping as these flightless birds are nocturnal.