The Al Fahidi fort, built in 1799 and located in Bur Dubai behind Al Fahidi St, houses Dubai Museum. The old fort building contains regular exhibits of weapons, traditional costumes and musical instruments and the courtyard has good examples of ‘arish huts and wooden boats. The underground section houses wonderfully lifelike exhibits of an ancient souq, a Qur'an school, typical Arabic households and an oasis. There is also a display on the desert by night with interesting local wildlife. A separate room is dedicated to lively modern exhibits of pearl diving and fishing. Archaeological finds are displayed near the shop.
Al Fahidi Historical Area
One of the original trading districts in old Dubai, this delightful area by the Creek is now famous for its unique collection of traditional houses with windtowers – rectangular structures that catch the wind and circulate it around the building. The area is a maze of atmospheric narrow alleyways and many of the houses have been converted into art galleries, cultural centres, shops and cafés.
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House
On the southern bank at the entrance to the Creek, this old house was built in 1896 as a residence for the ruling family. The traditional coral-block structure has four elegant windtowers and a large central courtyard. Carved teak wood doors, wooden lattice screens and balustrades have all been restored to former glory. Delightful photographs of old Dubai adorn the walls.
Heritage and Diving Village
Next to Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoums’s House, the Heritage and Diving Village celebrates Dubai’s maritime past. Displays include a tented bedouin village with traditional weapons, chests and household utensils. Shops sell handicrafts and camel and donkey rides are sometimes available. Folk dance and music performances are staged here on occassion.
Majlis Umm Al Sheif (Al Ghoreifat)
Situated in Jumeirah near the sea, this preserved house was originally built around 1955 as a summer retreat for Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum the late Ruler of Dubai. The simple two-storey stone building is constructed with traditional materials. The ground floor comprises an open liwan (terrace) and also a small storeroom, while on the second floor the majlis (reception room) is decorated in traditional style with carpets, cushions and Arabic coffee pots. The traditional garden features a falaj irrigation system.
Located about 150 kilometres from Dubai at the foothills of the mountains, Hatta’s fort and two round watchtowers were built in the late 1800s. The views from the watchtowers, including a perspective on the backstreets of the traditional town, are worth the climb to the top.
Hatta Heritage Village
This is an extensive heritage area in the centre of Hatta town. It has a wide range of buildings and exhibits illustrating the traditional lifestyles of this inland area. A shop sells an eclectic mix of antiques and handicrafts.