Having in mind that I come from Europe and that by places to visit in Dubai I a priori think of monuments, great archaeological ruins, traces of cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years, I was a bit surprised by being referred to shopping malls by default. Since I have been persistent, a museum was recommended, the main Dubai Museum which occupied the old fortress. The stronghold is called Al Fahidi, it dates back to 1787, they said, “and there you will find all you are so keen to learn”.
There is a castle-like building, but it was built on the spot where the original Al Fahidi stood, thus – a replica. Right after the courtyard decorated by (replicas of) handcrafted pearl trading boats, you come across a spiral lane whirling underground. The temperature decreases rapidly and you enter a shady space with posters representing specific decades from 1930s to this day. And there it was, the whole history of Dubai, in posters on the wall!
When you go further into the tunnel, you come to experience a museum “with a touch” of an amusement park. A lot of separated boxes turned into (replicas of) old Arab craft shops on each side of the lane with huge life-sized dolls. The floor was covered in sand, to give you a hint of a desert. There was also a smaller room dedicated to pearl diving, once the main and very lucrative occupation in early Dubai, and another one with panels hanging from the wall with inscriptions about night orientation through the desert. And that was it, the “amusement” history of the city!
I needed a moment going back up, had to restart my focused “gray cells” and to keep reminding myself where I was. This is Dubai, proud to have sprung up from mere sand in less than 20 years, not the “usual” historical site one comes across. “Places to visit” here are not what you might expect…
Anyway, it really was time for shopping!
The full Dubai SERIES