Friday, Oct. 10, 2008

6. The Traditional Dubai

While vast swaths of the city have been demolished in the relentless drive toward the future, one neighborhood harks back to the quiet fishing village that once was. The Bastakia Quarter, which squeezes itself between the Dubai Creek and the buzzing Bur Dubai district, is a mini maze of wind-towered buildings, a clutch of which have been transformed into art galleries and cafés. Start your tour at XVA Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art from across the Gulf region. Continue your appreciation of Middle Eastern art at the Majlis Gallery before lunching on hearty salads and a refreshing mint-and-lime juice in the neighboring Basta Art Cafe's sun-dappled courtyard.

Once refreshed, weave through the textile souk — where you'll find magnificent bolts of fabric, along with less inspiring tat — and on to the Creek where you can either join the commuters for a AED 1 ($.30) abra (water taxi) ride across the water or hire your own boat for a scenic tour of the waterway. Back in port, head to the small but interesting Dubai Museum to see how oil and ambition mixed to make this modern oasis. If you get hungry again, check out Bastakiah Nights, an atmospheric Lebanese restaurant with a great rooftop area.