Historical Dubai

5 Things to see on a historical tour of Dubai

This article is about the historical attractions in Dubai. You may also be interested in :
Attractions in Jumeirah, Dubai | Visiting Dubai Marina and The Palm | Downtown Dubai attractions

The city of Dubai was established in the early 19th century by the Bani Yas tribe. The current ruling Maktoum family took over Dubai in the year 1833. For a brief history of Dubai, please visit About Dubai page.

The best place to see the historical heritage of Dubai is in the Bur Dubai area. You can visit places like the Bastakiya, Dubai Museum, Sheikh Saeed's house, Dubai Heritage village, Dubai Diving village, etc. Then hop onto the traditional Abra and visit the Gold Souq and Spice souq across the Dubai Creek and finally end the day by going on a traditional Dhow cruise.

1. Sheikh Mohammed Centre - SMCCU

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
You can start your itinerary from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. It is located in a traditional Wind Tower House in the heart of the historic Al Fahidi District in Bur Dubai.
  • You can take the Dubai Metro Green line and get down at the Al Fahidi Metro station. Its a short walk from there, ask for Bastakiya or Al Fahidi roundabout.
  • The office hours are Sun-Thu : 9am to 5pm and Saturday : 9am to 1pm.
  • For further information, please contact them on Phone: +971 4 353 6666 or Email: smccu@cultures.ae or visit their website at www.cultures.ae
Historical Dubai Tours conducted by SMCCU
  • Walking Tour (60 minutes) AED 35 per person includes a walk through the historic district. Tours start Sun-Thu at 9:00am.
  • Heritage Tour (90 minutes) AED 55 per person takes you through the historic district and the Diwan mosque. Tours start every Sat at 9am and Sun,Tue and Thu at 10:30am.
  • Creekside Tour (120 minutes) AED 255 per person, 5 person minimum, consists of historic district walk, Diwan Mosque and the souks.Tour on request.
  • Advance booking required for all the three tours
  • All tours include a Q&A session on cultural discovery and Arabic tea, coffee and dates.
  • The center also hosts traditional breakfasts, lunch and dinner.

2. Bastakiya Historical Quarters

Bastakiya Historical Quarters
Bastakiya is an area consisting of traditional Arab houses with courtyards. It is a nice, pleasant walk through the old buildings with its distinctive architecture and a beautifully restored neighborhood.

The houses were built in the 1890s and were restored in 2005. Most of the houses are occupied by cultural offices and shops selling traditional artifacts, paintings, carpets, arabic perfumes, etc. Things to watch out for are the part of the wall of old Dubai city, a coin museum and Bastakiya nights restaurant on the creek side.
  • The souks (shops) are open from 10am to 10pm, though on a Friday you might not find much activity in the area.
  • There is no entry free.
  • For more information, please call the Architectural Heritage Department at +971 4 3539090

3. Dubai Museum

Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort
Dubai Museum is the best place to get a rundown on the history of Dubai and the various stages of its transformation. The museum is short walk from the Al Bastakiya quarters. The museum is housed in the Al Fahidi fort. The fort was built in 1787 and was renovated in 1971 to be used as museum. The museum recreates the life in Dubai before the discovery of oil. The museum displays the traditional Arab houses, mosques, markets, life in the desert and the life of the fishermen. There are exhibits portraying the pearl diving, including sets of pearl merchants’ weights, scales and sieves. Watch out for the video of Dubai showing its progress from 1930s till the present day.
  • Dubai museum is open from Sat-Thu : 08:30am - 20:30pm and Friday from 14:30 - 20:30pm.
  • There is a entry free of AED 3.
  • For more information and timings during Ramadan, please call them +971 4 353 1862.
Please Note : Your next stop, the Sheikh Saeed's house is around 1 km walk from the Dubai Museum. As you come out of the Dubai Museum, you will see the Grand mosque of Bur Dubai. Right behind it, there are the Hindu temples of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna. Walk a little further down through the narrow alleyways and you will reach the Dubai creek. Spend some time here and watch the hustle bustle around the abras. You can then do some shopping in the Textile souk. And continue walking towards the Sheikh Saeed’s house.

4. Sheikh Saeed's house

Sheikh Saeed's house in Dubai Attractions
Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum was the Ruler of Dubai from 1912 until his death in 1958. He is the grandfather of the present ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The house was constructed sometime in the late 1890’s.

Today, it houses a rare collection of historic photographs, coins, stamps and documents that record Dubai’s history. If you go upstairs, you can catch beautiful views of the Dubai creek.
  • The Sheikh Saeeds house is open from Sat to Thu : 08:30 am - 20:30 pm and on Friday from 15:00 - 20:30 pm.
  • There is a entry free of AED 3.
  • For more information and timings during Ramadan, please call them on +971 4 393 7139.

5. Dubai Heritage & Diving Villages

The Heritage village is setup in the form of a Bedouin settlement and features potters and weavers practicing traditional crafts . The homes are made from Barasti (dried palm leaves tied together) and mud. Traditional Bedouin handcrafts are also on sale and there is also a traditional coffee shop. The Diving village depicts the life of pearl divers and pearl traders.

The sites may look artificial but it gives you an idea of the life in Dubai those days. The visiting hours are from Sat to Thu : 08:30 am - 22:00 pm and Friday from 15:30 - 22:00 pm and there is no entry free.