Although now effectively swallowed up by Bur Dubai, the historic creekside district of Shindagha was, until fifty years ago, a quite separate and self-contained area occupying its own spit of land, and frequently cut off from Bur Dubai proper during high tides. This was once the most exclusive address in town, home to the ruling family and other local elites, who occupied a series of imposing coral-walled and wind-towered houses lined up along the waterfront. Many of these old houses, now sprucely restored, have survived, making this part of town – along with Bastakiya – the only place in the city where you can still get a real idea of what old Dubai looked like. A growing number have also been converted into low-key museums, including the absorbing Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum House and the outstanding new Crossroads of Civilizations Museum, along with a number of other places which are hardly worth bothering with, despite being free.
The edge of the district is guarded by the distinctive waterfront Shindagha Tower, one of only two of the city’s original defensive watchtowers to survive (the other is the Burj Nahar) and instantly recognizable thanks to the slit windows and protruding buttresses on each side, arranged to resemble a human face.