A couple of weeks back I was lucky enough to visit Zanzibar for the first time and cover Sauti za Busara festival which I have been dying to go to for years, and was every bit as fantastic as I hoped. The festival is held entirely in Stone Town which made the beautiful UNESCO Heritage site my base for a week.
My first encounter with Arab-inspired doors on the Swahili Coast was closer to home in Mombasa's Old Town - my clearest memory of the beginning of my love is a voice (I can't for the life of me remember whose) explaining to me that the carved flowers on the intricate wooden doors of a home were to represent how many daughters the family had.
There was more information on that tour probably, but that particularly stood out to me.
Arabic Doors vs Swahili Doors
So this trip I learned something new! Arabic or Arab-inspired doors are the more intricately carved ones, sometimes with an arched top and usually with a carved strip down the middle. They may have the same or similar strips on either side of the door and brass ornaments or studs - borrowed from the Indian Gujarati style which originally were spikes used to prevent battering by elephants. Swahili doors are much more simple with a grid pattern and almost exclusively rectangular.