Saturday, 2 March 2013

Scratch An Al Fahidi Cultural Neighbourhood, Find A Bastakiya

English: Al Bastakiya, Dubai Español: Al Basta...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There's been a rash of renamings over the past couple of years. Satwa's Al Diyafah Street has been renamed December 2nd Street (December 2nd being the UAE's National Day, marking the establishment of the Emirates, formerly British protectorate the Trucial States, in 1971), the Emirates Road has been redubbed the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. And Bastakiya is no more.

Changing nomenclature is part of the scenery around here. Business Bay Bridge was originally called the Ras Al Khor Crossing and, of course, the Burj Khalifa was long intended to be the Burj Dubai.

Sometimes the name changes mark new futures or obliterated pasts - Jumeirah Beach was long known as Chicago Beach after the Chigaco Construction Company, which had its compound there - and Sharjah's Mothercat Roundabout was similarly named after a company compound, although the usage has largely lapsed. Naming places after nearby landmarks is part of the tradition of directing people by sending them from landmark to landmark, a habit born of the lack of early street names. National Paints, for instance, has lent its name to the infamous roundabout/interchange much as Staples Mattresses lent their name to London's Staples Corner. There's less and less need for that kind of thing these days as we use our mobiles to search for places and get directions from dispassionate avatar voices. Which is a shame, it was all part of, well, the colour of living here.

Now Bastakiya, with its crumbling barjeels now restored to their former glory, has been renamed the Al Fahidi Historical and Cultural Area. Home to the Emirates Literature Festival's Dar Al Adab, the area is a little warren of adobe buildings and paved walkways, barasti roofs and cool rooms lined with cushioned diwan seating, funky little hotels, tea shops and galleries. In this weather, it's a delightful place for a stroll in the sun or a cold fruit juice in the shade.

Shame about the name, but then that's progress, isn't it? Or something like that...
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2 comments:

Dubai Photo Story said...

Sad indeed. I cannot see any sense in changing the brand name. Bastakiya is a well established name so why change it to something as complicated as Al Fahidi Centre for.......

Can you see any reason for such a change? Not sure how a name change can mean progress is any way

Grumpy Goat said...

At least nothing in the UAE has been renamed OO-REDO-O.

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