Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood

A gateway to Dubai’s past and national identity.

Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

Residential building inspired by traditional architecture (2020) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The historical neighbourhood extends for about 300 metres along the Dubai Creek, and 200 metres inwards, 

Covering an area of approximately 38,000 square metres. Aspects of ancient Emirati architecture are evident in every corner. 

The buildings and structures of the heritage district highlight the distinctive features of the neighbourhoods, homes and buildings of ancient Dubai, showcasing a lifestyle that prevailed in Dubai from the mid 19th century till the 1970s.

Narrow alley paved with stones (2019) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The historical district is characterized by narrow streets and alleys, paved with stones, flanked by buildings made of traditional materials like coral stone, teak wood, sandalwood and palm fronds. 

Buildings and Architecture reflecting the identity of Emirati Culture (2020) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The buildings are all low-rise – no more than two storeys – and above them, the Barjeel stands tall as one of the most prominent features of Emirati architecture. These ‘wind towers’ are a testimony to the success of the region’s inhabitants in overcoming the challenges of the harsh climate, especially in summer.
 

The buildings and the architecture reflect the identity of the place as well as the customs and traditions of Dubai. The design of each structure affords visitors a glimpse of the traditional social lifestyle of the time. 

Beautiful close up for the Barjeel tower (2020) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The scarcity of front windows, their narrowness and high placement reveal how privacy was a sought-after quality. The winding and twisting alleys and pathways, the south-west orientation of the buildings towards the Qibla as well as many other architectural principles and social values can be discovered by exploring visitors.

Abra, a traditional wooden boat (2019) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is a distinct part of Dubai’s history for many reasons, the most important of which is its strategic location on the Dubai Creek. The Creek has been the hub of commerce for several centuries, welcoming ships and merchants from all over the world.

"The Barjeel" was one of the most prominent features of Emirati architecture (2019) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The historical neighborhood is adjacent to the court of the Ruler of Dubai, and encompasses the Al Fahidi Fort. Built in 1787 and located on the southern side of the Creek.

Al Fahidi Fort was the seat of the ruler of Dubai as well as the defence centre, as it was located on the borders of the Emirate. The Fort was later turned into a store for ammunition and weapons, and also used as a prison for outlaws.

Dubai Museum architecture (2019) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

  The fort was restored during the reign of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum and reopened in 1971 [the year of the declaration of the Union and formation of the United Arab Emirates] as an official museum showcasing the history and heritage of Dubai, named Dubai Museum. 

Dubai Museum architecture (2019) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

In 1995, an extension to the museum was opened, connected to the historic fort. Dubai Museum housed in the Al Fahidi Fort paints a comprehensive picture of Dubai’s ancient history and its interaction with various countries and civilizations.

A mock-up at Dubai Museum of a traditional fishing boat (2019) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The museum features the diverse environments of urban and rural life in Dubai, including marine, coastal, desert, mountain and agricultural lives. It also houses rare artefacts, illustrative paintings and installations as well as archaeological objects in its various wings.

Al Fahidi Historical heritage neighborhood alleys (2019) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Today, the buildings of Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood host a number of cultural and artistic activities – both public and private. They are home to art exhibits, specialized museums, cultural and artistic societies, ateliers and cultural centers. The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding is one of them. 

Cinema Akil at SIKKA Art Fair (2016)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

The neighborhood also hosts a number of seasonal events such as SIKKA Art Fair, Artists-in-Residence Programs, Heritage Week etc. besides important national and religious celebrations.

Explore more of the UAE's heritage: Bayt Al Emirati

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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