Attracting more than 611,840 annually Dubai National Museum can accurately be dubbed one of the most visited historical points of interst in the country. Housed within a historic structure itself the illustrious institution is contained within the ancient edifice of the Al Fahidi Fort which is coincidentally the country’s oldest building dating back to 1787. Declared open to the public by then monarch Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1971 the museum was instated to serve as a glimpse back at the traditional way of life of the Emirati people, their customs, lifestyle and heritage. Showcasing artifacts from the region and surrounding nations including those of the Asian and African continent which conducted trade ties with Dubai since time immemorial the venue also displays a number of dioramas dealing with traditional lifestyles of its people prior to the discovery of oil. Some of the oldest relics date back to 3000 B.C while more recent discoveries are also highlighted at this sprawling institution dedicated to documenting the proud history of this global player in the field of commerce, oil production, tourism and technology.
Once serving as a royal palace, prison and garrison the Al Fahidi Fort where the museum is housed is an architectural landmark and a historic site in its own right. One of the three inner halls of the fort contains the museum’s ticketing office while old weaponry from various periods and conventional musical instruments are found in the remaining two halls. Exhibition halls encircle a picturesque courtyard where cannon balls, ancient seafaring boats and a traditional summer house or Arish are on display. Made of weaved palm leaves the Arish houses ancient kitchenware and other household items as well as furniture used in centuries past.
Other galleries at the museum contain ancient maps of the country while a video room is also on-site to offer visitors an audio-visual presentation on life in Dubai during the pre-oil era stretching forward to the present context. A model of a creek-side souk and a makeshift thoroughfare filled with craftsmen, shops and artisans is also found within the venue where a true-to life market place dating back to ancient times has been recreated with startling accuracy. Model mosques, homes and households are also displayed alongside remnants of Bedouin life from age old tents, cooking utensils and other aspects of life in the desert. Sea-faring vessels and equipment used long ago are also highlighted as are the marine species and the types of dhows common during the period.
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