Dubai’s iconic skyline is a manifestation of the emirate’s overall opulence and affluence. Looking at these sky-piercing towers jutting from the desert landscape, it is often difficult to imagine the time before these infrastructural Goliaths existed. However, Dubai has a history just as rich and intricate as its skyscrapers and there are a plethora of museums devoted to represent this city’s past, present and future. With themes ranging from historical and archeological wonders to futuristic and sense-altering attractions, there is a museum in Dubai to pique everyone’s interests.
HISTORIC MUSEUMS IN DUBAI
- From Dubai’s humble beginnings as a fishing village to the 1966 discovery of oil and the nation’s subsequent modern-day extravagance, the Dubai Museum follows the history and transformation of this influential Middle Eastern emirate.
- The museum houses relics of Dubai’s 3,000 year old past and provides a comprehensive overview of how the city came to be.
- In the museum’s 1950s wing, visitors can walk through the recreated Dubai marketplace to see the various objects from that era.
- Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the museum, was built in 1787 to serve as a defense post and a home for the local monarch. This fort remains the oldest building in Dubai.
- Walk the halls of the first police headquarters in Dubai as you explore the history of Dubai’s security forces.
- The Naif Museum, created in 1997, is housed inside a wing of Naif Fort, which remains an operating police station. The headquarters however, was moved to its current Al Twar location in 1973.
- The current Dubai Police Force was established in 1956 and the museum includes displays of uniforms, weapons and medals from that time.
- Exhibits include models of jail cells, detention centres and interrogation rooms.
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House
- Explore the former residence of Dubai’s one-time ruler, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum at this museum.
- With a collection of old coins, stamps, jewelry, photographs and maps, this house is a time capsule of old Dubai.
- The historical documents and old maps of Dubai housed at the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House hold immense cultural significance for Middle Eastern historians and cartography enthusiasts alike.
- This compound, built in 1896 for the Maktoum family, is one of the oldest in the city.
Saruq Al-Hadid Archaeology Museum
- This museum houses artifacts from the important Saruq Al-Hadid archeological site, which was a center of metalworking 3,000 years ago.
- Visitors can see the distant past come to life with Iron Age artifacts like jewelry, pottery, and tools recovered from the sands of history.
- This comprehensive experience brings visitors into the history of the site by showing the intricacies of ancient Middle Eastern metalwork and even giving visitors the chance to create their own clay pots.
- The museum’s building is itself an artifact, a traditional building where Sheikh Juma bin Maktoum Al Maktoum once lived.
- Where the Dubai Museum follows the historical journey of Dubai, the Etihad Museum houses artifacts and history that commemorate the founding of the United Arab Emirates.
- Right next to the museum, at the Union House, the federation documents creating the United Arab Emirates were signed by the founding fathers in 1971.
- The museum contains displays detailing the history and background of the United Arab Emirates as well as personal artifacts of the ruling families, including passports and cherished trinkets.
- Interactive 3D films, classrooms and photographs here, make for an absorbing learning experience.
UNIQUE MUSEUMS IN DUBAI
Women’s Museum at Bait Al Banat
- This site commemorates women’s contributions to the development of the United Arab Emirates by highlighting their achievements in politics, education, art and humanitarianism.
- Bait Al Banat, where the museum is housed, is a historic house built in the 1950s that translates to “the girls’ house.”
- The Women’s Museum’s founder, Dr. Rafia Obaid Ghubash, teaches psychiatry at the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain and created the museum to provide a place to showcase the achievements of women today and in the past.
- Visitors can leave in style with the traditional attire and souvenirs sold in the gift shop.
Museum of Illusions
- Visitors enter into a mind-blowing experience at the Museum of Illusions, a place where rooms “trick your eyes and entertain your mind.”
- The museum’s halls include science-based optical and sensory illusions designed to alter visitors’ perceptions of reality, such as the anti-gravity room, the vortex tunnel and an interactive, three-dimensional version of the classic Rubin’s vase.
- In one exhibit, the rotated room, visitors appear to have been flipped upside down in a space made to create unique photographs.
- Special events and performances are also hosted at the museum.
- The Coin Museum lets visitors explore more than 470 rare coin and paper money types from a range of historical periods and locations.
- The history of coins is told through engaging digital displays and timelines.
- The museum’s collection features currency sourced from the Middle East and North Africa, including rooms dedicated to coins such as Arab-Sasanian dirhams and dinars from the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates.
- The Coin Museum has free admission and is a dream destination for the avid coin collector.
Museum of the Future
- Visitors to the Museum of the Future will be engaged in learning about technologies and the life of the future.
- Four floors of exhibits envision the future of the world in space technologies, advanced ecosystems, bioengineering, health and spirituality.
- An entire floor is dedicated to near-future technologies that are sure to change how people eat, move and live in the coming years.
- The awe starts before entering the museum, as the exterior is an award-winning building that forms the shape of a giant silver torus that is decorated with Arabic poetry.
- This museum is more of an antique bazaar, selling items of the past, while doubling as an observational museum.
- Its winding walkways contain everything from traditional artwork and jewelry to old Arabic lamps and tea sets, all available for purchase.
- Authentic Middle Eastern dishes and drinks are served for visitors who meander through the antique knick knacks.
- Shoppers can leave with a smile and the satisfaction of knowing that every purchase includes a donation to charity.
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