Barjeels: Keeping cool in old Dubai

Summer in Dubai is intense with relentless humidity and temperatures soaring close to 50°C (122°F). How did people stay cool before air conditioning? We had heard about barjeels – traditional wind towers – but we didn’t quite know how they worked, or if they were still used today. So, we went to Al Bastakiya, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, to find out more. There we discovered the barjeels were just one architectural element – there are more! – that kept the houses and streets cool.

Listen as architects Rashad Bukhash, Chairman of the Architectural Heritage Society for the UAE; and Dalia Hamati, professor of architecture at American University of Sharjah TELL US MORE.

Find Out More!

To find out more about Dubai’s windtowers and to see drawings of the Bukhash family home, check out Peter Jackson’s book Windtower: Houses of Bastakiya (co-authored by Anne Coles).

Episode Credits

This episode of TELL ME MORE was brought to you by Amaeya Media. It was produced and edited by Liz McEnaney and hosted by Spatika and Liz. Our fantastic music is composed by Daniel Belquer.

A big thank you to Rashad Bukhash and Dalia Hamati, and to XVA founder Mona Hauser and architect Clemens Russ who helped us with our research. They’re very important people and we’re grateful to them.

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