on December 19, 2005
The Dubai Museum is arguably the best museum of cultural history in the entire Gulf region. Although it lacks the archaeological treasures of the Bahrain Museum in Manama, it more than makes up for that failing with its array of splendidly conceived and executed dioramas depicting the street life of pre-petrodollar Dubai. There is also a superb collection of early rifles, pistols, and daggers (khanjars). Located along the Creek on the Bur Dubai side, it is housed in the old Al-Fahidi Fort, thought to be the oldest building in the Emirate of Dubai. At one time or another, the structure has been used as a military post, the residence of the local ruler, a jail, an ammunition dump, and now, in its latest reincarnation, as a museum. Utilizing what construction materials were to hand, it was built of chunks of coral and shells, held together by lime. Roughly 40 by 50 meters, it has two stories, with rooms surrounding a central courtyard with wind towers for ventilation on the corners. Entering through the small door in the gigantic solid teak gate, you see the large courtyard with various old boats, a model barastee (reed) house, a couple of cannons, and an extraordinary wooden water tank. Go through the rooms of the main building first, then go down the stairs beneath the building, where you'll find the dioramas, which are, in many ways, the most impressive part of the whole experience.
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