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12 February, 2007

Historic houses

According to rumour, the beautiful Bastakia area by Dubai Creek, with its traditional windtower houses and shady courtyards, has Prince Charles to thank for its preservation. While visiting Dubai some years ago, Charles allegedly expressed such horror at learning of the Bastakia's impending demolition that an order was made to save and restore it.

Since then the Bastakia has become one of Dubai's greatest cultural success stories. The extremely picturesque area is popular with tourists and filmmakers wanting to capture "Old Dubai". It is also an important legacy for future generations of Emiratis.

Now a law is being passed to save other historic buildings:

"Once the law is passed, which is expected in a couple of months, no one will be able to make any change to, or demolish any historic building in the country," said Rashad Al Bukhash, Director of the Projects Department at Dubai Municipality and Chairman of the UAE Architectural Society.

Any building constructed before 1960 comes under the category of historic building in the UAE. There are a total of 1,200 historic buildings nationwide.

The fact that "historic" means pre-1960 is a reminder of just how young the UAE is. But no matter how many Madinats, (as yet unbuilt) "Old Towns" and Lost Cities one builds, they can never replace real heritage.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for Prince Charles!

12 February, 2007 09:52  
Blogger Brian64 said...

I'm focusing on Dubai & religion on my blog. Thought you might be interested.

12 February, 2007 10:48  
Blogger littlejimmy said...

I was just saying a similar thing about the differences between the Madinat and the real souks in Deira and Bur Dubai on my blog (Beer and Bloating in Dubai). The contrast is quite stark, and you realise that they are literally turning this place into one giant theme park. It would be great if they put the brakes on and stop the Disney-fication.

12 February, 2007 12:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of bastakia has been converted to hotels

12 February, 2007 17:24  
Blogger Frances said...

Was Charlie stuck for something to say?

12 February, 2007 19:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God for Charles, the great western statesman for saving bastakia.

These sands people want to destroy everything.

12 February, 2007 19:23  
Blogger BuJ said...

Very interesting. I'm glad you pointed out the significance of the 1960 year to signify age.

A bit like the British system of "listing" a building, but here it works when someone actually files a request for a building to be listed to English Heritage (or another similar body) and then it's decided whether it's given a Class I, II, or III listing. Class I being the most onerous.

I know Mr Bukhash actually, he's a nice bloke and is doing a lot of good work with his boys at DM. Keep it up!

13 February, 2007 12:56  
Blogger nijaz said...

Wish they'd extend the year to 1975. It could save my home, in Al Qusais. We're all attached to it immensely. Folks that have moved away has to still visit it regularly sipping chai in the numerous shops.

We have even started a photobook project called "Kingdom G" (check out the cover pic.) Ghusais, as it was called before, few miles away from Jumeirah and Shaikh Zayed is a different world altogether, that you have to see it to believe it. But not even Prince Charles can save us.

P.S- Anyone willing to support the project let me know :)!!

13 February, 2007 16:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bastakiya is a step back in time in Dubai. The Bastakiya district has been earmarked for tourist development, with the construction of a museum, cultural Center, and an art gallery that showcases local talent.

I read information regarding Bastakiya at

23 February, 2007 12:54  

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