It’s easy to get lost in the glamour and intrinsic lifestyle that Dubai offers, but, as with pearl diving that created the foundations of this land, the true treasure lies within the shell. A timeless journey within a pearl…
Dubai evokes a lot of emotions in people’s minds. It is the home of the world’s tallest building, the most extravagant hotel, the largest human-made archipelago, and the largest mall by occupied space, among so many others. People from around the world converge towards it, packed with suitcases full of dreams they aspire to fulfil and wonder in their eyes for the possibility of being present as one of the foremost trailblazers in the region and the world.
It’s easy to get lost in the glamour and intrinsic lifestyle that Dubai offers, but, as with pearl diving that created the foundations of this land, the true treasure lies within the shell. The real story of Dubai lies within its people, their journey, and their shared hopes of a future yet to be written. Theirs is a tale weaved in sands of time, documented over the years and shared from generation to generation through folk songs, music, and art that captures the essence of this land and its people.
From historical locations to the very place where the United Arab Emirates was founded, one need only slightly lift the veil to bear witness to the rich history of Dubai and its culture. Those seeking to embark on this voyage can explore the universal tale of human innovation, resilience, and the desire for progress at Shindagha Museum, located in the heart of the iconic Dubai Creek, to explore true Emirati culture and its origins from a global perspective.
Stepping out of the museum, visitors can experience the traditional style of life that was prevalent in Dubai from the mid-19th century till the 1970s through a visit to at Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood. There, they will bear witness to buildings with high air towers (Barajeel) that were built with traditional materials and aligned side by side, separated by alleys, pathways and public squares. These same buildings are now the home of a number of varied cultural and artistic activities, ranging from art exhibits, specialized museums, cultural and artistic societies, ateliers to cultural centres, all of which come to vibrant life through seasonal cultural and artistic events such as Sikka Art Fair, Artists-in-Residence Programme, and Heritage Week as well as National Day events and religious celebrations.
Dubai presents to its visitors myriad opportunities to unearth and explore the cultural heritage of the region facilitated by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the custodian of culture, art, heritage, and literature in the city. Abreast of the museums that reveal the story of the land is a museum that celebrates Dubai’s history through the eyes of a luminary who documented the emirate’s story in verse. Mubarak bin Hamad Al Oqaili was one of the city’s most famous and accomplished poets in writing eloquent, Nabataean poetry. His house now stands as a treasure trove of history and written words where visitors would be able to experience a valuable collection of documents, in addition to an original collection of poems, some of which are in Al Oqaili’s own handwriting.
A world of wonder awaits visitors curious to unravel the true story behind Dubai’s rise to its modern-day stature, recounted in a multitude of mediums. Those seeking the history of the region’s currency to track the city’s progression may do so at the Coin Museum. Those seeking a visceral experience and to see the world through the eyes of a man who tackled everyday life should visit the Heritage House. Built by Matar Saeed bin Mazina in 1890 with his own two hands, it helped him withstand the conditions of the desert environment and obtain physical and moral comfort at a time when people had only themselves to rely on.
Today, Dubai also represents the ground upon which the United Arab Emirates was formed in 1971. On the very spot were the union was signed, Etihad Museum was erected to not only commemorate the event but also celebrate the perseverance of the human spirit and the brotherhood that brought the leaders of the emirates together under one banner.
From libraries that house the region’s historical documents and books, to museums and exhibits that harbors the wonders of regional culture, Dubai is a land as rich and beautiful on its earth as it is seen from atop Burj Khalifa. Explore the magic of this land and set a course on an unforgettable journey of discovery and heritage that formed on the bed of the Dubai Creek and is still rising to reflect the sun, moon, and stars.
By Luma Jasim Bourisly - Dubai Culture & Arts Authority