A Brief History
Dubai as a town or city has existed for much longer than the past two
or three decades during which it gained prominence in the modern world
- it wasn't until 1969 that oil was first exported from Dubai. Before
the business, oil and tourist sectors developed, it was already a significant
Going back a little further, there have been tombs found in the Jumeirah
area which date from the second century BC and older tombs found elsewhere
in the UAE. It is likely that people lived in the UAE region as far back
as 5000 BC.
there is a written record of Dubai and Dibba is mentioned as
the time of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Dubai and some of the other
emirates are mentioned in the writings of a pearl merchant from Venice
(unlikely that it was THE Merchant of Venice however) in the 16th century.
By the turn of the last century in 1900, Dubai was already on the map
as a trading hub. Even then, a large component of its 20,000 population
was made up of foreigners.
On 02 December 1971, the UAE came into being (six emirates
at first with Ras Al Khaimah signing up on 10 February 1972) and replaced
the Trucial States.
Restoration of historic buildings in Dubai and UNESCO
- Historical Buildings Maintenance Unit (now known as Historical Buildings
Restoration Section) was established in 1991 by the Dubai Municipality.
- Up until 2006, about 100 buildings have been restored.
- Dubai Municipality Historical Building Section intention is
to restore another 320 buildings by 2010.
- None currently on UNESCO World Heritage Sites list but attempts being
made to get several sites on the list including Sheikh Saeed House,
Al Fahidi Fort, Al Ahmadiya School, and Hatta Heritage Village as well
as the Bastakia and Shindagha areas.
Historic Landmarks in Dubai
As of 01 September 2006, government department weekends will change
from Thursday/Friday to Friday/Saturday. This will probably not affect
opening hours of historic tourist sights but you may want to double-check
if going anywhere on a Saturday.
Ahmadiya School - first school in Dubai, built in 1912, renovated
as a Museum of Education.
- Al Fahidi Fort (Al Faheidi) - Bastakiya
Quarter, oldest fort in Dubai, built in 1799,
was home to Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher al Maktoum in the late 19th century.
Now houses the Dubai Museum. Restored from 1993 and opened to public
- Al Ghuraifa Majlis
- Al Hijaz Heritage Motel
- Al Qusais (Ghusais) graveyard - excavation dating back to before
0 BC. Not open to public, enquire at Dubai Museum for permission to
- Al Sufouh (Sufooh) graveyard - excavation dating back to before 0
BC. Not open to public, enquire at Dubai Museum for permission to visit.
- Al Wakeel House
- Bait Al Wakeel - first office building in Dubai, built in 1934 by
Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, restored in 1995.
- Bastakia Quarter (Al Bastakiya Area or Al Bastakia Area) - original
center of Dubai, in Bur Dubai near Dubai Creek, now known for its restored
Some of which are now
with cafes and art galleries including the Basta Art Café,
Majlis Gallery and Cafe, Ostra Gallery, XVA Art Gallery and Guesthouse.
The area was originally
built by Persian merchants trading in Dubai in the late 1800s, who
named it after the town of Bastak in Iran (since that's where many
of them came from).
- Bur Dubai creek - along the creekside between Bastakia and Shindagha
are many old buildings that have had resotaration work done.
- Bur Dubai Souk / Souq
- Burj Nahar - Deira another fort dating from 1876 and restored
in 1992. Not to be confused with the Burj Nahar Hotel (or Burj Naher).
- Deira Souk / Souq
- Dubai Museum - in the restored Al Fahidi fort in
the Bastakia Quarter. Definitely worth a visit. If any cynical resident
expats try and tell you
otherwise, ask them if they've been, and drag them along if they haven't.
Tel +971-4-3531862, open 0830-1930 daily except Fridays 1330-1930,
during Ramadan 0900-1700 and Fridays 1400-1700. Admission cheap.
- Ghurfat Um Al Sharief majlis
- Grand Mosque - oldest mosque in Dubai, built in 1850
- Grand Souq
- Hatta archaeological site - not
open to public, enquire at Dubai Museum for visiting permission.
- Hatta Fort
- Hatta Heritage Village - 16th century
village in the Hajar or Hajjar mountains, one hour's drive from
Dubai. Also called Hatta Village, Historical Hatta Village, or Hatta
- Heritage House in Al Ras, Deira - dates back to around 1890.
- Heritage Village and Diving Village (or Heritage & Diving Village)
- Al Shindagha area near mouth of Dubai Creek, live demonstrations
Diving Village describes
the pearl diving industry. Open 0800-2200 daily except Fri 0800-1100
and 1600-2200. During Ramadan 0900-2400 with activities from 2100-2400.
- Jumeirah archaeological (or archeological) site - excavation with
relics found dating back to between the 7th and 15th centuries. Not
open to public, enquire at Dubai Museum for permission to visit.
- Lootah Mosque
- Majlis Um al Sheif - Jumeirah, built for Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed
Al Maktoum in about 1955.
- Nahar Tower - see Burj Nahar
- Naif Fort - another fort
- Round House - Jumeirah, replica of original Roundhouse
where documents signed forming the UAE.
- Sheikh Obaid bin Thani House - Shindaga, near Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum
House. Built in 1916, converted into a museum (completion date?).
- Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House or Shaikh Saeed House - built
in 1896 for Sheikh Saeed who was ruler of Dubai from 1912-1958.
Opened in 1986 as
photo, coin and document collection. Also referred to as Sheikh Saeed’s
House. Open 0800-2030 daily except Friday 1530-2130. During Ramadhan
0900-1700 daily, 1400-1700 Friday. Tel +971-4-3937139.
- Shindagha area
- Umm Rayool Square / Tower (or Murabba'at
Umm Rayool / Umm Royool / Um Rajool) - a weapons store and vehicle
checkpoint. Of sorts, it was
built (in 1838) on legs or pillars. The tower was
relocated and restored in 2004 in Union Square near the Deira taxi
station. And knocked down again in 2005 to make way for Dubai Metro's
Dubai Municipality Historical Buildings Section
- Tourist maps of the historic sights are apparently available.
- Walking tours can be organised.
- Can become a member of the Society for the Conservation of Historical
Buildings in the UAE.
Updated Tuesday 15-Jun-2010