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Discover the best museums in Dubai

Tue, March 19, 2024

Discover the story of the nation's past – and fantastic, fun visions of the future – at Dubai's landmark museums.

Discover the story of the nation's past – and fantastic, fun visions of the future – at Dubai's landmark museums.

Al Shindagha Museum

Al Shindagha Museum Dubai
To get a real sense of Dubai's roots, 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 (wooden boats) gliding along. Located by its banks, Al Shindagha Museum presents a fascinating themed multimedia experience that showcases the area’s dramatic development. Nearby is 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 Union House, is the very spot 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.

Coffee Museum

Coffee Museum in Dubai

While the origins of coffee have never been proven, legend says that a goat herder named Kaldi discovered 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

womens museum 4 2024

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.

More museums to explore

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.

ARTE Museum

arte museum
Spanning almost 2,800sqm, ARTE MUSEUM in Dubai Mall houses works across 14 zones under the theme of 'Eternal Nature'. The venue, designed by the world-class Korean digital design company d'strct, uses production-mapping, multi-image control and sensor-based interaction systems to help visitors appreciate exhibits as closely as possible with the help of technology. After you are done browsing, sit back at the ARTE Tea Bar and sample refreshing tea-based mocktails surrounded by mesmerising art pieces.

Museum of Illusions

Museum Of Illusions Dubai

Enter a world of visual and sensory magic at Dubai’s Museum of Illusions, located at Al Seef along Dubai Creek. With over 60 different exhibits, this expansive collection of optical illusions and immersive installations is perfect for entertaining the whole family. The museum is also a great educational and eye-opening experience for all age groups, allowing visitors to constantly test their senses and reconsider assumed perceptions.

3D World Selfie Museum

3d world

The 3D World Selfie Museum is the largest of its kind, packed full of mind-bending illusions. Housing 185 pieces of art spread out across walls, ceilings and floors, the immersive paintings draw you into the scene and help you become part of the artwork, perfect for snapping that all-important photo. Each artwork has been painstakingly hand-painted using water-based colours – top scenes include a lightsaber battle with a Star Wars clone, a photoshoot with a grizzly bear, and stepping into Alice’s shoes in Wonderland.

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.


Child playing at OliOli

Children aged two to 11 can unlock the power of positive play and let their imagination run free at OliOli. The experiential play museum in Al Quoz, which clinched the Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Award in 2021, features eight galleries spread across two floors. Each gallery offers an immersive sensory experience and has been carefully designed with art and modern equipment, inspired by ideas from global educators, developmental psychologists, artists and fabricators. In total, there are 45 hands-on exhibits for kids to experience.

More museums to explore

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