The illuminated city lights, the spectacular tall buildings, the amazing skyline, the enormous malls and abundant luxuries are the things that come to mind when one thinks of Dubai, the city of UAE. However, it would amaze you to know that all the growth and advancement that you see today has happened in the last 4-5 decades, after the discovery of oil. Before it became the power city that it is today, it was a fishing village ruled by the Bani Yas tribe, who still rule Dubai. In short, Dubai has an interesting history, and the city still holds the remnants of the past. Hence, a trip to Dubai would not be complete without a visit to some of the top historical places in Dubai.
Located in Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek, the Bastakia Quarter is one of the oldest historical neighbourhoods in Dubai which also has a lot of historical significance. It is the perfect place to go to if you want to take a look at the architecture of Dubai during the yesteryears.
Comprising of several small streets and roads, the Bastakiya Quarter was developed by Persian merchants. The streets comprise of several wind houses, many of which still stand. While the exterior of these buildings looks plain, the interior is totally different and matches the glitz and glamour of Dubai. When in the city, do take time to walk through this area to get a feel of the past. Apart from these wind houses, you should also check out the museum as well as the many traditional cafes and shops in this place.
Al Fahidi Fort:
The Al Fahidi Fort in Dubai was built in the year 1799 to protect the city from invasion. The fact that this is one of the oldest structures of Dubai is an important reason to visit this place. Apart from this, it is also home to Dubai Museum, which preserves and exhibits Dubai's history, culture and heritage. A visit to this museum would give you a clear idea about Dubai's past.
The museum depicts the life in Dubai before oil was discovered in splendid detail. The everyday life of the Arabs, their occupations, their homes, their clothing and ornaments, the mosques, date farms, the instruments and weapons they used, etc. are displayed in a spectacular way. Apart from this, miniatures of old bazaars and souks can be seen here. You will also find several artifacts that were discovered during excavations in this museum. A visit to the museum would also give you a glimpse of the growth of Dubai from a desert land to the vibrant city it is today through an audio-visual documentary.
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House:
One of the oldest buildings in Dubai, the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House was the residence of Sheikh Saeed till the time of his death in 1958. Built in 1896, this building is a perfect example of the architecture in those times. This building is located in the historic district of Shindagha and is a huge building with a spectacular inner courtyard.
While it has not been inhabited for several years, today it acts as a museum that depicts the history, culture and heritage of Dubai. The museum holds several rare photographs of Dubai in the 1940s and 1950s. These photographs are of the traditional celebrations of the city, the scenes of the souqs as well as the Dubai Creek during pre-oil times. The place also displays the Arab occupation of pearl diving in a unique way which you would find fascinating. You will also be able to take a look at the weapons, stamps, coins and such other things of the olden times.
Hatta Heritage Village:
Hatta is an exclave of Dubai and is located 115 km away from the city, at the base of the beautiful Hajjar Mountains. Hatta is a must visit place if you want to take a peek into the Heritage Village located here. The Hatta Heritage Village was restored and opened for public exploration in the year 2001. This village has restored several important buildings and houses of ancient Dubai. The mosque which is 200 years old and the Hatta Fort are the two most important and oldest buildings of the area. The fort has been transformed into a museum where you can see knives, weapons, pistols, guns, swords, daggers, etc. used in the past. The village also has a display of traditional homes and many other historical buildings.
The place is also home to International Hatta Fort Hotel where you can reside for a day or two if you wish to soak in the history, culture and ambience of the place for a longer duration. Moreover, the Hatta Heritage Village tour is usually a part of the Hatta Safari. The Hatta desert safari offers all the activities found in a usual desert safari along with a wonderful view of the Hajjar Mountains and an opportunity to take a look at Dubai's past living conditions.
The Dubai Creek is a place with utmost historical significance as it is here where the Bani Yas tribe first settled. Another significance of the creek is that it divides the city of Dubai into two, one side being Bur Dubai and the other being Deira. While both sides of the Creek have seen tremendous growth and development, they still preserve the charm of the old world. It is still a major trading point as in the past. Also, the traditional water taxis called abra are still used for transporting people from one side of the Creek to the other. As the Dubai Creek is a perfect blend of the past and the present of Dubai, a stroll along the creek is a must to get a feel of this beautiful city.
The Jumeirah Mosque was built in 1975 by Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and the architecture of this mosque has been influenced by Fatimid style. This mosque is quite popular as it is one of the most photographed monuments, the picture of which can be seen in 500 dirham note. The best thing about this place is that it is open to tourists of all faiths. The SMCCU (Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding) conducts tours during all the days of the week, except Friday. The purpose of the tour is to give an insight into the Islamic religion to the tourists.
The history of Dubai is fascinating, and beneath all the luxury and glamour, it still has deep roots of the past. The city has been able to keep its history and culture alive with its museums, monuments and historical buildings. Hence, it is important that you take time from sightseeing the exceptionally tall buildings, shopping from the attractive malls and indulging in the thrilling adventures that Dubai offers for visiting the incredible historical places in Dubai.