Discover a history bathed in intricate textiles, precious materials and ancient customs and traditions. Dubai’s early years are still being mapped, but the archaeological finds are on display in the Dubai Museum. From its beginnings as a homeland to Bedouin tribes, to its discovery by the West as a pearl diving centre, Dubai has sprung from a humble start, to making its way into the record books multiple times.
Jumeirah and Al Sufoh are home to the main archaeological sites, where you can see the process of uncovering Dubai’s past. The discoveries found in these sites are housed in the Dubai Museum, which resides underneath Dubai’s oldest constructed building, the Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787. You can trace the Emirate’s history back to the Bronze Age, with some relics aged from 3,000 BC.
While you’re in the area, visit the Persian quarter of Bastakiya, where some of Dubai’s oldest buildings survive. There are relatively few ancient constructs in the state, due to the Bedouins, who mainly used temporary tents to shelter in, which could be taken down as they continued their nomadic way of life. Persian merchants were the first to build solid, permanent buildings, making this area of Dubai one steeped in history.
After you’ve explored Bastakiya, hop on an abra, a traditional small wooden boat, and cross over to Deira, where you can explore souks selling sparkling jewellery, powerful spices, and enough trinkets and toys to last you a lifetime. From there, lose yourself in narrow streets and loud markets, until you reach the famous Gold Souk. While gold isn’t as cheap as it was once in Dubai, you can enjoy the atmosphere and the traces of ancient history as you browse.
Visit the official residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, the past ruler of Dubai, and grandfather to the ruling Sheikh now. The bold architecture, dazzling interior design and effortlessly elegant atmosphere will transport you to years gone by, and you’ll be able to see rare photographs and documents that make up Dubai’s glittering history.
Immerse yourself fully in Dubai’s diving history at the Heritage and Diving Village near the mouth of Dubai Creek. Here you’ll find a representation of what it was like to live in Dubai’s earlier days, with villagers weaving baskets, diving for pearls, and making pottery.