On a recentish trip to Dubai Blonde and Brunette made a determined effort to learn as much of the history of Dubai as we could, eagerly seeking out museums and historical artifacts.
OK, that isn’t true at all. We’d gone on a group tour (gasp!) which included a stop at the Dubai Museum. As the next stop for the day was a boat ride over to the souk we saw the museum as something we just had to endure to get what we wanted. There wasn’t a guide to explain things and it was dark inside and we were tired and not in a museum state of mind.
Our impressive research department (which doesn’t exist) was able to find an excellent explanation of the Dubai Museum and we would like to share that with you.
“For People who are interested in History is the Dubai Museum very good. The Dubai Museum was opened by the Ruler of Dubai on 12 May 1971. The Museum is located in the Al-Fahidi Fort, who are the oldest building in Dubai. Tourists get many informationen about the History of Dubai and can look many Videos from Dubai.
When you make a Dubai City Tour often the Admission to the Dubai Museum is included. Please ask your tour operator if you can look the Dubai Museum“.
What is that language? Aralish? In any event it certainly sums up the vast majority of the facts you’ll get in this post.
The museum is built inside the walls of Al Fahidi’s fort. Al must have had a lot of enemies or a mother-in-law he wanted to avoid to have built a fort, but we aren’t here to speculate. (This just in: apparently it wasn’t a guy named “Al”, the word means “the” in this context. Too bad, we prefer our version as it has more options for a storyline.)
The ruler of Dubai in 1971 opened the museum. Its aim was to “present the traditional way of life in the Emirate of Dubai” which, at some point in the past apparently was not focused around upscale shopping malls. This would seem to be because the museum is showing life before the discovery of oil in 1966. Rumor has it that changed things a fair bit.
An al agra (the bigger boat in the picture above) is on the grounds inside the fort. One of these would have been what “Al” used to go back and forth across Dubai Creek. We are going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t try to launch it from this exact location.
(We took a slightly improved version of one of these to the souks and were glad we knew how to swim. The operators of the boats appear to have the same attention to safety as Indonesian ferry operators. The upside is that it’s a small body of water and it might even feel good to fall in on a hot day.)
In the picture above there is a large pole with a hole in it, a rope around it and the appearance of a palm sprouting out of it. The palm was actually a regular palm tree, the tree part of which was hidden behind the pole. We didn’t see an explanation as to the purpose of this so assume it was a place where “Al” peeked through starting the first program of spying on your citizens which has now been enthusiastically adopted and expanded by the American government. Good work “Al”!
Prior to the discovery of oil “Al” could not afford high-end luxury brands. His albino donkey, due to transporting poorly packed cloth sacks, developed a serious case of protruding knees.
This diorama show two young Bedouin boys building a model ship. Subsequent to the discovery of oil they would have been building the world’s largest ship featuring previously unheard of architecture and embellishments.
Maybe this is what happens when in one generation a country goes from being relatively poor and unsophisticated to finding oil, striking it rich and wanting to show off. (Historical reference supporting this theory: the American TV show The Beverly Hillbillies, minus Elly May’s short shorts. Not “minus” in that way.)
The Dubai Museum strives for accuracy in this scene from the early reality TV show “Bedouin Housewives”. The women apparently covered themselves in what appear to be plastic garbage bags to ensure maximum misery while cooking. You do not ever take a picture of a covered Muslim woman hence the reason she’s photographed behind the pole. Note that rope was featured in many aspects of Bedouin life.
Rope again! This time the woman who was cooking had reached the end of her rope and told “Al” and his camel (or possibly other wife, not sure which) to leave because she didn’t want to hear one more time that her cooking wasn’t as good as Al’s mother’s.
Bedouins were legendary for being hospitable so “Al”, and the beast accompanying him, went to his friend Bakhit’s man cave (now the 7 star Burj Al Arab Hotel). Bedouins were expected to boil their last rice and kill their last sheep to feed a stranger.
Who among us can deny that if we were all willing to kill sheep for strangers the world would be a better place?
History isn’t clear on this point but it appears that “Al” had arrived well into the evening when the other men already had their nightgowns and sleeping caps on and had been enjoying some beverages and a smoke. It is important that the Bedouin men shown here are given fashion credit for not wearing socks with their sandals. This is because they discovered oil, not technology.
The following morning the men went out for Bakhit’s bachelor party. This Dubai Museum diorama shows the popular and manly sport of pearl fishing with a rope around your neck. The rope facilitated being able to still harvest the pearls if the diver died. There is no official information on the number of pearls typically found under a table such as the one shown here.
While “Al” and his best buds were pearl diving, someone else discovered oil. Al sure was having a run of bad luck! Sometimes timing really is everything.
New money exists mainly to be spent on extravagance and excess so this modern building was built while “Al” was under the water. Imagine how astounded he must have been when he emerged!
In the picture above “Al’s” wives are leaving him for the man who discovered the oil.
In summary, do not miss the Dubai Museum as, by attending yourself, you may learn something a little more truish about the history of Dubai and its people. But then again, we sure didn’t!