Rashid Ahmed Al Tamimi from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding shares his love for Dubai’s most historical neighbourhood – Al Fahidi (which is otherwise known as Bastakiya)…

“I am Emirati and have been in Dubai all my life. Dubai is an amazing city and a very unique place to grow up and live. Under the guidance of our leaders we have gone from a small fishing village to a cosmopolitan city where many nationalities live side by side.

Al Fahidi is part of our history, and a charming area to visit with its unique architecture. You can explore the narrow alleyways, wind towers and courtyards of the houses of the past. Al Fahidi is also home to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre For Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), where we have various educational activities including our Open Doors Open Minds programme where guests can join us, learn about Al Fahidi and a time gone by.

An Open Doors, Open Minds meal at SMCCU is a great way to learn more about Emirati culture (and they cost from Dhs90 to Dhs120).

I am a very social person so SMCCU provides me the same opportunity in my work to engage with our guests from many different backgrounds every day, which I love. It gives me great pride to be part of the SMCCU team, making friends with our guests from across the globe and sharing my culture and religion.

During our guided tours, we visit the Diwan Mosque, which I still find so impressive.

This mosque sits in the middle of Bastakiya and is known for its distinct flat dome and it hosts up to 1,200 worshippers.

I’d also highly recommend trying out Arabian Tea House for a bite to eat, and for a taste of culture, you should visit AlSerkal Cultural Foundation – which is one of the oldest heritage sites in Dubai.


The Arabian Tea House is on the main road as you walk into Bastakiya (on the road side, not the creek side) and it serves a fantastic lemon with mint, as well as great flat breads (fresh from the oven).

AlSerkal Cultural Foundation was founded in 2008 and features galleries and boutiques that support regional creatives. The house it’s in was built in 1925.

It would be an honour to share my favourite area of Dubai, my culture, and religion with you at SMCCU.”

SMCCU hosts heritage tours on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10.30am, they’re 90 minutes long and cost Dhs80 per person (booking is essential). They run many other tours, and also host cultural meals, you can read about those here…

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