• LOCATION 8 | On the road to Etihad: From street art to sweet treats

    The History of Satwa

    Look around you while you walk.

    You’ll notice that low-rise buildings are the norm here. They’re often painted in beige and neutral tones. This style reflects the era when many of them were built – between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, when Satwa first became a popular suburb.

    Its residents then were mostly Emirati families living in small, close-knit quarters. These homes were given to them by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, whom I mentioned earlier.

    When the city started to grow rapidly in the 1990s, expatriates from South Asia and the Philippines started settling in Satwa. These days, the Filipino influence is so pronounced that Al Hudaiba Road, just south of here, is affectionately known as ‘Manila’.

    You’ll still find some Emirati families living in Satwa, but a lot of them have moved to newer parts of the city. And the neighbourhood is now a home away from home for the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Filipino communities.

    There are also plenty of businesses that serve this community, including barbershops, tailors, used bookstores and supermarkets, along with small shops selling all kinds of wares — from textiles and carpets to electronics and souvenirs, mostly owned and operated by South Asian businesspeople.

    Keep going straight. I’ll introduce you to one of these businesses just ahead.

On the road to Etihad: From street art to sweet treats