UAE Tour Guide: The Dubai Museum

UAE Tour Guide: The Dubai Museum Last updated on Monday 26th April 2010

Al-Fahidi Fort, built in 1800, is home to the Dubai Museum, and is thought to be Dubai's oldest building.

In the past the fort was used to defend the town from warlike neighbouring tribes. It has also served, at various times throughout history as the seat of government, the ruler's residence, a store for ammunition, and a jail.

The walls of the fort are built from coral and shell rubble from the sea, and are cemented together with lime. Wooden poles called handel support the upper floor, and the ceiling is made of palm fronds, mud and plaster. A massive, iron-studded door stands at the entrance, and its battle-scarred walls and towers bear witness to the conflicts of the past.

When the Museum was opened by the ruler of Dubai in 1971, its main aim was to furnish a record of the Emirate's traditional life, much of which is fast disappearing. Local antiquities have been collected and stored, along with artifacts from many African and Asian countries, trading partners with the Emirate, throughout its long commercial history.

At the Museum's entrance, the visitor can browse through a collection of old maps of the Gulf and the Emirates, together with aerial photographs showing Dubai's considerable urban expansion between 1960 and 1980.

Inside, a treasure trove awaits. A large section is devoted to musical instruments, with displays of drums, flutes, lyres, bagpipes made of goatskin and other locally-made instruments used in performances on festive occasions.

On a less peaceful note, displays of deadly weaponry are enough to curdle the blood. The curved daggers known as hanjars are much in evidence, and the display also includes swords, spears, bows and arrows, shields made of sharkskin, pistols and axes.

A model of a wind-tower room is an interesting feature of the architecture section, with diagrams and photographs showing different types of wind-towers from the older areas of Dubai city.

Narish Khyma, situated close to the Museum, is a typical Arab summer-house, with an interesting collection of local boats. These include a replica of the famous abra -- the ferry boats used for transporting passengers across Dubai's river creek.

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