Looking Back at Dubai’s Past

Located on the Shindhaga edge of Dubai Creek that is regarded as the lifeline of the city, this palace was a strategic vantage point for the ruler to monitor the trade in and out of his country. What was formerly the residence of Dubai’s leader Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, from 1912 to 1958, has today been transformed in to museum that depicts the history of Dubai and shows off 19th century Arabian architecture.

Built in 1886 Sheikh Saeed house once the seat of local government, today tourists observe and appreciate the rare collection of black and white photographs, paintings, coins, artifacts, furniture and important historical manuscripts that are housed here. It is also the oldest house in Dubai and is an excellent exponent of old 19th century architecture of the region. Constructed in the traditional Arabian style, that is often found on the Gulf coast the walls of Sheikh Saeed house are coral covered with limestone and plaster. It also features a large expansive courtyard and numerous rooms, verandahs and bathrooms that are divided into single or family units depending upon the inhabitants.

Two main entrances to the house can be found, one that faces the beautiful waterfront of Dubai Creek and the other one is located at the rear of the house that was probably reserved for family members. The ambitious restoration project that was undertaken by the authorities has preserved the elaborately carved teak wood doors and windows, wooden lattice screens and balustrades of the staircases. In order provide ventilation in the arid Arabian climate punctured gypsum screens that are exquisitely carved depicting floral and geometric designs have been set into the thick walls.

However the main attraction of the Sheikh Saeed house is its collection of photographs that portray Dubai in the early 1900’s. The rapid progress made on the back of immense oil revenue is truly put into perspective when one looks at the old photographs of a sleepy port city with a handful of houses and shops, a far cry from the bustling streets found today.

A few Dubai hotels can be found located close to this historic site and the popular Dubai Creek. A Dubai hotel would undoubtedly be on par with the best in the world, owing to the rapid progress and development of the region’s tourist industry.

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