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.
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.
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.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Dubai Museum (United Arab Emirates). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Dubai Museum. Read more about this site.