Port Lingah in Persia used to be a major Gulf Seaport located in the Governate of Lingah. This Governate was ruled by Arabs who had built a relationship with local Merchants based on nominal Taxation. In the early 1900s the Persian Government needed money. They believed Lingah's Customs Officials were helping Merchants avoid paying Customs Dues. So the Government replaced all the Arabs with Persian Officials then employed Belgian Customs to collect Customs Dues at Port Lingah. Local Persian Merchants were unhappy with this new Customs arrangement. They liked the old Customs which was viewed by the Persian Government as poorly operated and corrupt. Merchants preferred not to pay any Customs Duties. But taxes and duties were increased and continued to increase. Consequently Port Lingah began to decline and the Merchants started to leave.
Dubai Free Port
Around 1901 Dubai's Ruler Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum declared Dubai a "Customs Free" Port - Dubai's Port in those days being Dubai Creek. Sheikh Saeed was looking to attract business. He offered these unhappy Persian Merchants free land in Bastakia area as encouragement to bring their trade to his newly established Customs Free Port. Merchants accepted his offer and moved to Dubai bringing with them their Families and Builders. These Builders constructed coral rock and mud houses in Bastakia replicating their homes in Lingah. These incorporated unique Windtowers, a feature of buildings in their Persian homeland. Windtowers trapped and redirected prevailing breezes into the interior of these courtyard houses for cooling during summer.
Windtowers were incorporated by local people in new houses and Barasti Huts.
Neglect and Restoration
Merchants prospered and began to leave Bastakia, reestablishing in other parts of Dubai. Bastakia's unique buildings became accommodation for Dubai's growing Labour force and Godowns (store houses). Buildings were neglected. Their coral and mud constructions started decaying and crumbling. Many of these Old Bastakia buildings were demolished to make way for the new Government Diwan before the realisation these unique buildings had historical importance and were part of Dubai's heritage. Dubai Municipality restored what remained of Bastakia.
Boutique Hotels, cafes, restaurants and art galleries now occupy these unique buildings where once Persian Merchants and their families lived.