One afternoon, when I was walking around Bastakiya neighborhood, I came across this interesting place right at the outset of my exploration. I had just stepped out of the famous Arabian Tea House Cafe and my eyes fell on the standee that read ‘Alserkal Cultural Foundation’ in Al Fahidi Heritage District. Curiously, I walked in and was pleased to walk-around this house of few rooms, full of art and colors. Art always gets my eye and thus I was impressed with this budding talent-house which spoke of both traditional and evolving art works by local and international artists.
When I googled about old cultural attractions of Dubai, several articles suggested me about the oldest heritage sites in Dubai. When I looked for directions on the map, I was happily surprised to learn that the cultural neighborhood and bygone era of Dubai was very closely located from my hotel apartment at Al Rolla road. My excitement knew no bounds and I was very sure what I had to do for the next few days. Museums, art galleries, cafes, cozy restaurants, wind towers, souks, old town neighborhood, narrow winding roads, everything read super exciting to the traveler in me.
The above picture is from the afternoon when I started walking towards this well-preserved traditional Arabian village. Far from the hustle and bustle of the emirate, Bastakiya neighborhood happens to be one of the most picturesque location of Dubai. If you are totally unaware of this side of Dubai, I must tell you that it was a delightful experience for me to acquaint myself with the first settlements, art, culture and heritage.
After walking for twenty minutes on the road D90 (map), I found myself standing just there when I was supposed to be. The setting of the area, the buildings, the design and the mud colors told me that I was in for a cultural treat already. First thing that caught my attention were these miniature camels placed outside the ‘Local House Restaurant’.
The next door ‘Arabian Tea House Cafe’ looked equally welcoming and charming. The rustic look and the character of the nearby buildings were absolutely in contrast to the Dubai that I had always known. I wanted to stop in for some Arabic coffee but I decided to do that some other day. For now, I just walked inside because I had heard a lot about its open-courtyard look. It was pleasing inside.
This neighborhood is important to Dubai because its been developed to give a rebirth to Old Dubai. I did not hesitate to walk inside every house that was open and every meandering lane there. While I was walking to this place, culture, tradition and old artistic ways were on my mind but I must say Bastakiya’s unique art scene really surprised me.
I had also read that Al Fahidi neighborhood was gradually adding institutional and educative side to it. More art galleries were opening and Dubai culture was trying to make it a place to nurture young Emirati and international artistic talent. Alserkal Cultural Foundation looked one such place in the bigger scheme.
That afternoon I discovered a creative side of Dubai at Bastakiya. Since this was the first house that I walked in and clicked a lot of pictures inside, this blog post will only be about it. I met a girl just at the entrance and she happily showed me around all the rooms.
I found this house a reflection of today’s contemporary art scene.
Dubai’s oldest architecture paired with its most contemporary art- A cool combination made this place all the more exciting.
This cute and stylish stool looks absolutely youthful and full of colors. I would love to have it in my living room.
Atlantis The Palm Hotel, Dubai, looked beautiful on the canvas.
Camel- The animal of the deserts is sure to fascinate the artists in Dubai.
For me this painting said- One life, many dreams. A woman has so much to think about and she has her hidden aspirations too. Of all that she is a master of multi-tasking.
For a small treat, don’t forget to stop at MAKE.
This is scrap metal! really?
Inside this house, there were different rooms assigned to different artists and all their art work was put at one place.
A creative style and a new imagination.
To me this painting was a beautiful imagination of life from another planet.
This was my first encounter with beautiful ‘Shadow Art’. The light bulbs and their placement had a very important role to play. Lovely wooden carvings and their shadows were amazing.
Another piece of art work that I would love to have in my house.
The sweet girl who accompanied me around also told me that the terrace was being done up and a wooden restaurant was in the making. The colorful stairs below guided me to the terrace. In future I can see this place grow as a cool hangout place for creative minds. No doubt, its gonna be a buzzing place among tourists too.
For now, this place is about few rooms and a small gift and mementos shop.
Whenever I am at a new place, I am always keen to learn about its Art and Culture. It helps me to connect better to the heart and soul of the place. Bastakiya had many such things that kept me upbeat that afternoon. Keep following many more interesting stories from there. This was just my first stopping point. Watch out for more.