(Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE)
Dubai was culturally rocked by the 20th-century discovery of oil. As a result, lavish new construction has stolen the stage from the historic architecture (a great deal of which is less than a century old). Today, the history and spirit of Dubai lives on in its museums.
The Dubai Museum is the forerunner of these cultural institutions, and its exhibits explore every aspect of the city's history and traditions. Often overlooked, the Narish Khyma Museum is housed in an historic summer house near the more prominent Dubai Museum.
The entire facility is devoted to historic watercraft from the region, headlined by a well-crafted recreation of a traditional water taxi (abra). These boats remain relevant today, and tourists can even charter abra rides across Dubai Creek. For even more museums, head next door to Sharjah, where many similar attractions await.
Address: Al Fahidi Fort, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE
Tel: +971 04 353 1862
The city's flagship museum is housed in the Al Fahidi Fort, an 18th-century structure built over the Dubai Creek. Inside is an exhaustive collection of displays and dioramas exploring the culture and history of the city. Plenty of attention is given to the pre-oil economy, especially to the local pearl industry. Be sure to view the fascinating collection of traditional Middle Eastern weaponry.
Open hours: daily - 08:30 to 20:30
Narish Khyma Museum
Address: Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE
The Narish Khyma is a very popular attraction within the city, due in no small part to its relative proximity to the Dubai Museum, which is just a stone's throw away. Those who choose to visit the Narish Khyma will find an interesting collection of local boats, a number of which are still used today and can often be seen on the Creek. A number of traditional 'Abra' boats are on display here, constructed of wood, capable of seating around 20 passengers and featuring a small single engine, being topped with a simply canvas roof.
Open hours: Saturday to Thursday
Sheikh Saeed House
Address: Shindagha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE
Tel: +971 04 393 7139
First a national monument, now the Museum of Historical Photographs and Documents, this house is a marvellous work of architecture. Its first resident, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, governed the city during the first half of the 20th century (his grandson rules today). Exhibits cover the sheikh's life and go on to explore stamps, coins and other local paraphernalia.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 20:00