Dubai museum, in the enclosure of Fort D'al Fahidi

Inner courtyard of Fort Al Fahidi, now Dubai Museum, United Arab Emirates ©Odyfolio

The Dubai Museum is Dubai's most popular tourist attraction. Housed in the compound of Fort Al Fahidi, which once had the mission to protect the port and its flourishing trade, it allows to understand the roots of the emirate and its transformation after the discovery of oil.

Dubai Fort History

At the end of the 18th century, Dubai was a port city much less developed than today, but nevertheless already very coveted. In 1799 Fort Al Fahidi was built to protect the city and its creek against attacks from the sea, on the basis of a watchtower that would have been erected in 1787. In the 19th century, especially between 1830 and 1850, works of enlargement of the original structure were realized.

Subsequently the fort remained a military building, including serving as an armory. In the 1970s, the small fortress ceased any defensive function and became the museum of Dubai in 1971.

The main building and the inner courtyard

Fort Al Fahidi is a rectangular structure with two round towers and a square tower. On the inside, along the walls, large rooms once occupied by the garrisons, as well as living rooms.

Today one can find in the inner courtyard representations of primitive habitat, named Al Khaimah and Al Arish. Built with palm leaves, the presence of natural aeration allowed to regulate the temperature summer and winter. You can also see the reconstruction of a traditional wind tower: put yourself below, and you will see that the temperature drops a few degrees.

Still in the inner courtyard, models of traditional boats give an overview of the naval architecture of the region.

The large room on the right hand side of the courtyard presents documents and objects related to the old Dubai defenses. The room opposite the latter presents weapons and objects on the theme of dance and music.

Wall of braided palm leaves of a restored traditional house in the courtyard of Fort Al Fahidi, Dubai Museum. ©Odyfolio

The underground rooms

The visit continues in underground rooms built in the 20th century which are accessed by a staircase.

A succession of rooms deal with the following themes: Dubai from the past to the present day, handicrafts, nature (desert, oasis, water), fauna and flora, maritime traditions, archeology.

The tour ends with a souvenir shop and a staircase to get to the surface.

Rates and practical information for the visit

Entry to the Dubai Museum costs 3AED per person (1AED for children under 6 years old).

Dubai museum is open every day from 8.30am to 8.30pm except on Friday when it opens at 2.30pm.

Hotels near Dubai Fort Museum

A short walk away, in the Bastakiya district, there are two guest houses: XVA Art Hotel and Orient Guest House. There are many bad hotels in the area. If you really want to stay there, take a look at the Arabian Courtyard.

Access map to Dubai museum

By car it will certainly turn in the small streets to find a paid parking space (payment with 1dhr coins). By taxi you have to indicate Dubai museum (not Fort Al Fahidi, because the site is little known by this name).

The Dubai Museum is located in the historic district of Dubai (directions Old Dubai or Bur Dubai), within walking distance of the creek, the abras stations and the Souk Al Khabeer. The site is easily recognizable with its great walls, and a large wooden boat is placed next to the fort.

By subway Al Fahidie station is 10 minutes walk.

Map with location of Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort, United Arab Emirates ©OpenStreetMap contributors