DUBAI // Tourists and visitors are to be given a taste of a bygone age where they can enjoy historic architecture and see craftsmen keeping almost forgotten traditions alive.
The Ahmedia Heritage Guest House, in the heart of bustling Al Ras, aims to be a haven for artists and a hotspot for visitors wanting something a little different from the gleaming towers of Dubai.
The hotel was officially opened last night with a show by artists in the city.
"What we are trying to do with this guest house is show visitors that there is more to Dubai than the tall buildings and modern infrastructure," said Habib Khan, chief executive of Planet Hospitality.
"In a way, some of Dubai's heritage has been neglected and we want to help keep these traditions alive."
The guest house is next to Al Ahmadiya School, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.
"We think this is the perfect location for us as you get a real feel for how Dubai once was," said Mr Khan.
Khalid Saeed bin Touq, the executive director for licensing and classification at the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, welcomed the opening.
"Dubai is famous for noticeable infrastructure but we also receive visitors who want to see the life during the early years of the city," he said.
The long-term aim is for professional and aspiring artists to display and introduce their work to visitors and guests.
Maria Iqbal, an Afghan artist who lives and works in Dubai, said the central courtyard that greets people as they come into the building was perfect for art shows.
"It's a very intimate area with a lot of natural light, which makes it a great place to put up art," she said.
"These old-style Arabic buildings are wonderful.
"Dubai is full of high-rise buildings and modern architecture so what I love most about this classic Arabic style is how elegant and grounded it is."
Haafiza Syed, an Indian artist, who was also displaying some of her paintings at the official opening, believes the UAE's traditions should be preserved.
"I love traditional Arabic architecture and particularly the ones in the UAE," she said.
"They have a very distinctive and earthy feel to them that you don't find in the more modern parts of the city."
The guest house also has two workshop rooms that can be used for subjects such as film screenings, photography, pottery and poetry readings.
There is also a traditional hand weaver at the hotel, and guests can see old fashioned hand weaving that creates rugs and carpets the traditional way.