This post was written in partnership with OceanAir Travels
Visiting Historic Dubai on a Heritage House Tour
Visiting Historic Dubai was originally published in May 2021
If you’re wanting to learn more about some of Dubai’s history before its rise to opulent metropolis while getting to experience Emirati cuisine and view it’s traditional architecture then OceanAir Travels’ Emirati Heritage House Experience is the perfect quick tour that will check all these boxes.
Why Go With OceanAir Travels?
OceanAir Travels’ Emirati Heritage House Experience blends Emirati history, culture, cuisine, and architecture perfectly in a quick tour right in the heart of the Al Fahidi Historical District.
What you will experience on the Emirati Heritage House Tour:
Visit the Al Khayma Heritage House
Upon arrival at the Al Khayma Heritage House, you will be welcomed with qawa (Arabian coffee) or karak (Chai spiced with cardamom and saffron) and dates as you begin the tour. The experience starts with a photo series that documents Old Dubai’s history from desert outpost to the business hub of the globe.
Explore the Al Fahidi Historic Neighborhood
The Al Khayma Heritage House sits right in the Al Fahidi Historical District, the heart of Old Dubai (sometimes referred to as Al Bastakiya). This was one of the original places settled in Dubai, dating back to about 1890. It was chosen, of course, due to its proximity to Dubai Creek.
You will wander the narrow alleys of the neighborhood, as your guide explains the importance of various architectural features that you will see as you explore the area.
Unfortunately, much of the original neighborhood was demolished in the 1980s. A portion of what remained of Al Fahidi was slated for demolition, though architect Rayner Otter was able to put a stop to it and started a campaign to preserve the historic district.
The Bedouin Khayma
The tour continues into the back courtyard where you’ll have the chance to see a traditional Bedouin Khayma, or tent. The Khayma is the foundation of early Emirati architecture.
Continuing on from the Khayma you will enter the Areesh House to witness the continuation of Emirati architecture. The Areesh was an evolution of the Khayma, replacing the woven fabrics of the Khayma walls with palm reeds.
In the upstairs of the Areesh House, you will get to see a unique style of bedroom. In the Areesh House, you will also have the opportunity to partake in henna tattooing or dressing up in traditional Emirati clothing.
Learn to make Ragag bread & Luqaimat
Back at the Al Khayma Historic House, you will be given a demonstration of how to make traditional ragag bread as well as the sweet luqaimat. You will also have the opportunity to sample both age-old dishes.
Finish off the tour with traditional desserts
Finally the Emirati Heritage House Experience will conclude with sampling of the unique local desserts of camel milk ice cream and karak tea or saffron tea.
- 1 hour duration guided tour.
- Welcome refreshments of qawa and dates.
- Regag and luqaimat demonstration/samples
- Henna tattooing
- Pick up and drop off from you accommodation (this service is available for an additional fee).
Other Important Info
- The Emirati Heritage House Experience Tour lasts a duration of 1 hour.
- The starting point of the tour is from the Al Khayma Heritage House in the Al Fahidi District.
- Getting the starting point by public transportation is easy. From the Bur Dubai Abra Dock it’s a 1 km walk, and from Sharaf DG Metro Station a 750 meter walk.
Explore more of Old Dubai
Before or after your Emirati Heritage House Experience Tour why not check out more of what Deira, just across Dubai Creek has to offer? Of course, you must take an abra across Dubai Creek, the historical mode of transport between the north and south sides of this winding body of water.
Where to Stay in Dubai
- Budget: For budget travelers, the Bollywood Beach Hostel comes highly recommended.
- Midrange: I opted to stay at the Al Bandar Rotana Dubai Creek, which was the perfect choice in my opinion. The room prices were in the right range and the hotel is located near the Deira and Bur Dubai highlights.
- Splurge: A favorite among those looking to splurge on a room with an epic view, the Shangri-La Hotel is where to book.
Have any questions about the Emirati Heritage House Experience Tour?
Ask in the comments section below.