The mention of Dubai conjures up images of oil-driven towering buildings, iconic hotels, and snow skiing and water parks in the desert. Dubai Creek is the beating heart of the city with a chaotic frenzy of workers, abra (wooden water taxi) catchers, shoppers and travellers all bustling with activity.
In sharp contrast is the neighbouring historic district of Al Bastikiya. Built by wealthy Iranian traders in the late 1800s, a gentle stroll around the peaceful but tangled streets of Al Bastikiya highlights the wonderful adobe wind tower (or windcatcher) houses. With the houses built closely together to maximise shade, this ingenious design uses natural ventilation to target the extremes of weather of scorching hot dry days and chilly nights.
The cooling effect is due to the air movement (the air isn’t actually cooled) with the air forced downwards into the main living areas of the house. Similar ideas are used in the Middle East with some extending the idea by steering the air over running water to provide a natural form of air-conditioning (a similar technique was practised in Amer Fort in Rajastan).
Take some time out from the souqs and shopping of Dubai for a peaceful stroll through the historic Al Bastikiya area and see the inventive resourcefulness of the past traders in making living in the heat of Dubai as refreshing and pleasant as possible.