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Discover the best museums in Dubai

Tue, November 1, 2022

The nation’s past weaves a remarkable story that’s being retold in new and imaginative ways at Dubai’s landmark museums.

The nation’s past weaves a remarkable story that’s being retold in new and imaginative ways at Dubai’s landmark museums.


Al Shindagha Museum

Al Shindagha Museum Dubai
To get a real sense of Dubai, you’ll have to make your way to the Creek, where the city’s story started. This historical waterway was where the Bani Yas tribe first settled in 1833 and today, the waterway continues to be a hive of activity with traditional abras gliding along. Located by its banks, Al Shindagha Museum presents a fascinating themed multimedia experience that showcases the area’s dramatic development. Nearby is the Perfume House, which reveals the role scents played in the nation’s history, with exhibits centred around traditional techniques and historical artefacts.

Etihad Museum

Etihad Museum in Dubai

On 2 December 1971, the six ‘trucial states’ of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain signed the constitution to form the United Arab Emirates (the seventh emirate of Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation the following year). Etihad Museum, located on the same site as the Union House, is the very place where this historic event took place. Walk inside and learn all about the first federation in the Arab world. Just as compelling as the exhibits is the building itself – with a curved white roof inspired by the shape of the constitution, it also features seven columns to symbolise the pens used to sign the agreement.


Saruq Al-Hadid Museum

Saruq Al Hadid Museum Dubai

In 2002, Dubai's ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum chartered a flight across the Rub Al Khali desert and glimpsed a patch of dunes that were a different shade. This contrast was found to be the slag byproduct of smelting metal during the Iron Age, which had since risen to settle on the surface. The desert site was named Saruq Al-Hadid – ‘the Way of Iron’ – and was confirmed as a centre for metalworking nearly 3,000 years ago. Objects from the site are now on display at the dedicated archaeology museum. Exhibits are centred around the skills of ancient workers, with fine examples of metal tools, weapons and jewellery on display.


Museum of the Future


Founded by the Dubai Future Foundation and launched on 22 February 2022, the museum explores how society could evolve in the coming decades, combining elements of traditional exhibition, immersive theatre and themed attractions so visitors can look beyond the present and towards the future's limitless possibilities. One of Dubai's most famous landmarks, the Museum of the Future takes pride of place along the city's superhighway, Sheikh Zayed Road. Discover the world's greatest ideas, prototypes and inventions, and attend special workshops and talks that explore high-tech solutions.


Coffee Museum

Coffee Museum in Dubai

While the origins of coffee have never been proven, legend says that a goat herder named Kaldi discovered that he had newfound energy after eating the berries of a certain tree. He went on to make a drink with the energising berries and word quickly spread. Once it reached Arabia, coffee cultivation and trade began to grow. Dedicated to the history of one of the world’s most popular drinks, Dubai’s Coffee Museum offers an irresistible experience. Visitors can discover different roasting and brewing styles from around the world, demonstrated live by knowledgeable staff. Afterwards, unwind with a delicious brew at the coffee lounge.


Pearl Museum

Pearl Museum in Dubai

Looking to go off the beaten path? Pay a visit to the Pearl Museum, located inside the Emirates NBD bank headquarters in Deira. A tribute to pearl diving – an important livelihood in the 19th and early 20th centuries – the museum is home to the world’s largest collection of natural saltwater pearls from the Arabian Gulf. This collection once belonged to the illustrious pearl trader Ali bin Abdullah Al Owais and was only made public when his son Sultan Al Owais donated his father’s priceless collection. The museum is open to the public only by appointment, and ideally in small groups of around eight to 10 people.


Women's Museum


Witness a vivid portrait of Emirati women over the years at the Women's Museum located at Bait Al Banat in Deira. The fascinating centre shines a spotlight on some of the UAE's greatest female influencers and illustrates how they've played an integral part in shaping the rich history of both Dubai and the nation – and continue to inspire. Walk through the Memory of the Place exhibition to learn about the Gold Souk area's past and browse the Diwan Ousha Bint Khalifa space to celebrate the work and life of the acclaimed poet. Visitors are sure to leave with a deeper appreciation for the women behind the UAE’s success story.


History of Cinema Museum


Visit the History of Cinema Museum for an interactive experience that gives you a glimpse into the progression of visual entertainment over centuries. This one-of-a-kind museum houses businessman Akram Mikna's collection of moving image devices that date back to the 1730s. With over 300 unique artefacts on display, visitors can see developments in the world of talkies from shadow play to current styles of animation and cinematography. You will also find information about the art of storytelling which was prominent in ancient China during the Han dynasty, so make sure you bring the little ones too.


Coins Museum

Coins Museum Al Fahidi Historical Dubai
Walk along the historic alleyways of Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood before stopping at the Coins Museum. This traditional two-floor structure houses 470 different coins displayed across eight rooms. Each display has magnifying glass screens through which you can observe finer details such as the minting date, type of material and more. Explore their collection of 16 special Arab-Sasanian dirhams from the time of the Rashidun Caliphate and Umayyads, and 115 dinars and dirhams from the Abbasid Caliphate. You'll also find rare currency from across the region, including Egypt, Turkey and Morocco, with some dating back to the 7th century.

Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House

House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum Dubai Creek

This heritage site, which is the former residential quarters of the late Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and his family, has now been converted into a museum. Located in the Al Shindagha neighbourhood, the building was built in 1894 with vaulted ceilings, teak doors and wind towers. Discover photographs and artefacts that give a glimpse into the past of Dubai and the UAE. Explore all nine wings, each with a different story to tell, including the History of Saeed Al Maktoum House, Al Maktoum Family, Old Dubai, Marine Life, Views from Dubai, Social Life in Dubai, Coins and Stamps, and Historic Documents and Maps.


Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili

Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili

Situated close to the Spice Souk, this heritage property is worth a visit for its impressive architecture alone. Intricately carved teak doors, beamed ceilings and a vibrant majlis are part of its beauty. Saudi-born Mubarak Bin Al Oqaili, who is known for his eloquent writing and Nabataean poetry, brought skilled builders to construct this aesthetic home in the 1920s. Step inside this two-storey building to explore bilingual exhibits that present milestones of the classical Arab poet's life and work. Displays include original manuscripts and personal belongings such as his desk, pens and more.


Naif Museum

Naif Museum
This landmark building, built in 1939, served as Dubai's police headquarters and prison for many years. It was only in the early 1990s that HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum decided to transform one of the fort's wings into an official museum. The establishment now houses two rooms with life-size models, interactive exhibits and fascinating displays to explore. Learn about the early days and development of the city's police and justice system, and see the evolution of police uniforms, weapons and equipment since 1956, when the force was first formed.
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