A Cultural Day in Dubai

Dear reader friends, Today we are going to tackle a subject that is close to our hearts. When you hear the name of Dubai, you immediately think of tall towers, large shopping malls, luxury cars … right? Don’t be fooled by the many TV reports that only show the luxurious part of the city, because Dubai… it’s so much more than that.


The United Arab Emirates is a country born in 1971, yesterday certainly, but politically speaking. Before the signing of the union by the Sheikhs of each emirate, the 7 emirates were independent, but protected by the United Kingdom since the 1820s and were called the Trucial States. In 1969, the British announced their withdrawal and the time had come to unite in strength.

If one can usually admire the superb modern buildings of the city of Dubai and think that it has no history, know that the Emirate was founded in 1833 by the Bani Yas tribe, which became the royal family of Al Maktoum. (To know more details, you will have to come and visit us;) Fort Al Fahidi, on the other hand, was the city’s first construction in 1787, and Bedouins lived all around along the Creek in tents, until historic districts such as Al Shindagha and Bastakiya were built. These districts have been restored and several museums have opened, so that travelers can discover the history, culture, traditions, and hospitality of a Bedouin people who have become a great world power in 50 years.


Jumeirah MosqueA trip to Dubai therefore often begins with exploring the old town and it is easy to spend 2 days there. And yes … for those who still think that a stopover in Dubai for an afternoon is enough, you have to come back! Close to Satwa district on Jumeirah Road, you can start by visiting Jumeirah Mosque. Built in 1979, this beautiful stone mosque has been welcoming non-Muslims since 1998 for a cultural visit. Before the visit, you can enjoy an Emirati breakfast: coffee, tea, dates, chebab and lugaimat. We love ! Emirati cuisine is a combination of Lebanese, Arab and Indian cuisine based on saffron and spices … we love lugaimat (small donuts covered with date syrup) and chebabs (typical saffron-based pancakes that we spread with cheese). On site, a British lady will tell you about religion, its customs and other explanations of the most interesting for a non-Muslim.

Etihad MuseumTo continue, you will be able to see the Etihad Museum, “the Union museum”, whose particular architecture in the form of a page, which represents the constitution signed by the 7 Sheikhs, traces the period from 1969 to 1971, the union of the Emirates. Not far from there, on the border between the old and modern districts, you can visit the Dubai Frame, magnificent architecture , which has many surprises inside…

Bastakiya Continue on your way and arrive at Bastakiya, formally named Al Fahidi Historic District. Its shaded and narrow streets, its large houses with their courtyards and wind towers, are just one aspect of the past life of this people. You can meet a calligrapher artist, as well as a local Emirati guide born in one of these houses, who will offer you a cup of Arabic coffee. You will also see a Bedouin tent, witness to the ancient habitat of the nomads, as well as the small museums and art galleries which make all the charm of this district. To make this tour even more cultural and meet locals, you will be able to participate in a special lunch in a house with Emirati hosts who will answer all your questions, even the most intimate!

Close to Bastakiya is the famous Al Fahidi Fort, renovated and opened in 1971 as a Dubai museum, retracing the life of Bedouins before the discovery of black gold. You can then stroll through the Indian souk, that of textiles, spices and gold, where you will taste a local tea and chocolate dates

Al Shindagha is the other historical part a short walk from Bastakiya. Here is the Creek Museum, the former home of Sheikh Saeed which displays old pictures, coins and stamps from life before. As well as the perfume museum to understand how the Bedouins created their perfumes with roses and oud for example. In the past, each tribe had its own house scent. Did you know that their Kandura (white dress worn by men) has a cord attached to the collar. It was used at the time to put the perfume of their home to recognize the tribe of the Bedouin they were belonging to.

From a romantic point of view, women had to sprinkle their scent so that their husbands everywhere felt at home…. The final secret lies in the Archaeological Museum which shows a large exhibition of objects found “by chance” a few years ago in the desert and which date from the Iron Age; children can learn to search for objects in the sand with a brush. Indispensable for making them aware of history!

Creek Dubai ABraThen, you will cross the Creek aboard an abra. The Creek is the place  where the maritime trade was born and which separates the two major districts of the old town. We can still see the old wooden boats, still operational despite their frail appearance. Across the Creek we find the souks, as well as the museum that honors the women of the Emirates and what they have accomplished for the life of the country. You will also visit the first school of 1912 where several teachers from neighboring countries came to teach; we can see the staging of classes, books etc. An interesting visit if you are with children, to show them how school used to be like. Not far away is also the house of a poet, a magnificent old residence to visit. Poetry has been an art form popular with Muslims for centuries.

DO YOU WANT MORE ? Follow us 😉


Leave a Reply