Though it may be its futuristic skyscrapers and luxurious, state-of-the-art hotels that make the headlines around the world, Dubai boasts a rich and fascinating history stretching back centuries. And, really, there’s no better way of getting under the skin of the Emirate and learning what makes it tick than stepping back in time and coming face-to-face with this exciting past courtesy of the Dubai Museum. Located on Al Fahidi Street, in the very heart of the modern capital, the museum tells the story of Dubai, from its humble origins as little more than a collection of tiny Bedouin settlements to the thriving business and luxury travel hub it is today.
Rather than simply relying on fragments of old pottery and other old objects complemented by dry, informative texts, visitors really are taken back in time into stunning recreations of Dubai life in centuries past. After entering the main exhibition space through ornate gates, visitors follow a walkway past highly-detailed replicas of first Bedouin settlements and then, moving forward through the years, into a mock citadel, testament to the strategic importance of Dubai.
Alongside this and other exhibits documenting its violent past, such as a collection of old weaponry, a recreation of a dhow and a traditional souk also shows how, long before oil was discovered and the first multinational corporations arrived in the region, the city has always been a vibrant centre of trade and commerce. Perhaps most interesting of all is the section of the museum dedicated to the 20th century. Here, curious visitors learn that, even just a few short decades ago, most Dubai residents were living in rustic huts made out of mud and palms.
Highlighting just how much the Emirate has been transformed over recent years, the exhibition concludes with a slick video charting the emergence of the first skyscrapers and Dubai’s rapid emergence as a global business and luxury travel hub. No trip to the Dubai Museum is complete without a trip to the gift shop, home to its own gallery of historic artefacts, while visitors are then able to unwind with a drink and snack before heading back out into the modern metropolis.