The True Gem of the Bastakiya

The Bastakiya is one of those rare places in Dubai I always enjoy visiting. Not only do I delight in having lunch at the Arabian Tea House Café (a reincarnation of the Basta Art Café), but just strolling around this peaceful haven with its many nooks and crannies is a delight.

A truly exceptional place in the Bastakiya is Mawaheb from Beautiful People.

This is an art studio for young adults with special needs and one of its kind in the UAE. Mawaheb means ‘talented’ in Arabic and the environment fosters not only creativity, but also acceptance and self-confidence in the students who sign up for the year. The space is filled with beautiful and vibrant art work, and one of the students eagerly took me to one of her paintings that she showed off with visible pride, when I asked her if she was one of the artists. When I was encouraged to enter a room filled with people working at a communal table, I felt hesitant, as I did not want to intrude upon a class. Great was my delight when I did enter, as I was warmly greeted by Wemmy (founder and managing director), Gulshan (art teacher) and the four students hard at work at a new project. I was touched by the generosity of everyone present that shared their time and conversation with me. There is a sense of community and love here that is tangible not only in the artwork that is created, but also through every word that is spoken.

* Take a look at Mawaheb’s website ( or visit them in the Bastakiya at villa 28, just behind the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Sunday – Thursday: 8.30am – 3pm from September – June.