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United Arab Emirates: Dubai Museum

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Dubai Museum | United Arab Emirates | Asia

[Visited: February 2015]

After walking past it on several previous occasions, I decide to finally visit Dubai Museum. Apart from learning more about the fascinating history of this city, the building in which the museum is housed, is reason alone to pay a visit. Al Fahidi Fort was built in the late 18th century to defend Dubai against attacks from the sea. It is the oldest still existing building in the city. In front of it, a dhow, a traditional ship used in the Persian Gulf, is on display. Behind it, I can see the earth-colour ramparts and towers of the fort. I walk around the small fort, before entering on the eastern side. In the courtyard, I find smaller boats, used for both fishing and transportation, such as crossing the creek of Dubai, and a dawar shani, a wooden device used to pull boats out of the sea. Furthermore, there is a traditional house with a wind tower on top. Used in summer, this provided enough draft through the house to cool it off.

Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Dhow on display outside the Al Fahidi Fort in which the Dubai Museum is located

Inside the fort, there is a small exhibition of arms and musical instruments, some of which are remarkable. What to think of a skirt with goat hooves which, when swinging your hips, would produce a sound that must be peculiar. I also see a traditional string instrument, and wonder what it would sound like if played. Apart from old guns, there are also khanjar, traditional daggers, richly decorated, and other old pointed weapons. The big surprise of Dubai Museum is that, when you think you have seen it all, there is a staircase leading you down into the basement. The exhibition continues here, sheltered from the sun. It gives an overview of the amazing history of Dubai, which only a few decades ago was a small fishing village, and now has turned into a major transportation hub, and the economic powerhouse of the UAE.

Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Traditional coffer in close-up

The museum is certainly not just a display of Dubai's current power. It also has many interesting objects on display. Wooden carved doors, old jewellery, an exhibit about traditional architecture. You walk through a suq, with sounds and even moving (fake) persons in the stalls. There is a big room on the sea, where you can see shipbuilders constructing a dhow, but also learn about the fish swimming through the waters of the Gulf, and explanation about the pearl trade which was so important once upon a time. Then, there is a section about archeological sites, with mummies, and displays showing how people lived in this harsh environment many centuries ago. With all the buzz about this glitzy city, you would easily forget that Dubai, and the Emirates, have a long history. Seeing some of the places in the country on display here makes me want to visit them myself, and I promise myself to do that on a next visit to Dubai. For now, after learning a lot about the history of this city, a walk up a winding stair takes me back to the present.

Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Traditional house inside the walls of the old fort
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Close-up of a traditional dagger, or khanjar
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Old bracelets in a row
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Jewellery of various kinds and shapes in the museum
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Trays of various sizes leaning against a wall in a traditional house in the courtyard of the museum
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Traditional instrument on display in one of the wings of the museum
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Close-up of decorated wooden door
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Fake salesman in the suq found in the underground section of the museum
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Curious musical instrument: skirt with goat hooves which makes sound when you move your hips
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Handicraft object standing against the wall of a traditional house in the courtyard of the museum
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Wooden cassette once used for the pearl trade
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Top of three weapons on display in the museum
Picture of Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates): Device used to pull boats ashore: a wooden dawar shani

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