Dubai Museum opened its doors to the public in 1971, aiming at preserving the history and heritage of Dubai, especially these of the days prior to oil discovery. The Museum is housed inside Al Fahidi Fort in Al Bastakiya quarter. A 1995 renovation resulted in added exhibit space and additional multimedia displays.
Al Fahidi Fort, built in the 1780’s, is the oldest existing building in Dubai. It has mainly been used to protect the town from raiding neighbouring tribes, although at different times it was used as the Ruler’s residency, a garrison, even as a prison.
The external exhibits, mainly in the central courtyard of the fort, include a bronze cannon with cannonballs, a well, a dhow, an abra and an exact replica of a traditional Arabic summer-house, built entirely of palm fronds. The rest of the exhibits are presented to the public in halls, built inside the walls surrounding the fort, as well as in underground galleries beneath the fort’s main courtyard. Through an impressive series of life-size dioramas, visitors are taken back in time as they step on a dhow deck unloading at a creek-side souk and walk down a street full of craftsmen, vendors and shoppers. Other dioramas feature scenes from a dhow building, desert and marine life, as well as the excavation at the archaeological site in Al Qusais, an area that goes back five thousand years to 3000 BC. All the dioramas and the accompanying special effects greatly enhance the experience of walking through time in Dubai.
Dubai Museum operates from 8.30'am to 8.30'pm Saturday to Thursday and from 2.30'pm to 8.30'pm on Fridays. There is an admission fee of 3 dirham for adults and 1 dirham for children.