Dubai has expanded exponentially over the past few decades – progress that has won admiration all over the world. While its status as a first-world city is relatively new, archeological finds near the creek suggest the area has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years.
This year, the UAE celebrated its 50th anniversary since the start of the its excavation works and archaeological discoveries. In Dubai shows you where to head to for a slice of the country’s rich and diverse history.
The oldest known building in the city is the Dubai Museum in Bur Dubai. The museum is housed in the imposing Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787 to protect the town from invaders.
The building has since been used as the seat for government, the ruler’s residence, a store for ammunition and a prison. In 1971, it was renovated into a museum to house artefacts that date as far back as 3000BC. The museum also displays colourful life-sized dioramas depicting the everyday life of Bedouins and galleries recreating scenes from the Creek,traditional Arab houses, souqs, date farms as well as desert and marine life.
JUMEIRAH ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
Something of a hidden treasure, you’ll need to gain permission from Dubai Museum authorities to visit this historical site. It’s the largest of its kind in the UAE, containing ruins that date back to the 6th century, thought to be the remains of a souq, and houses including the ruler’s palace.
The site has attracted numerous archaeologists, researchers and historians from around the world, and excavation of the area has uncovered tools, pottery and coins. Research has revealed that the site was an ancient trade route and caravan station between the 10th and 17th centuries, linking Iraq to northern Oman. Dubai’s position made it an important strategic location in the east-west trade route through Mesopotamia (an area that now covers parts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran), Baluchistan (a province in Pakistan) and the Indus Valley (an area in Pakistan along the Indus River). Evidence suggests that the early settlers in the area were competent in the fields of art, construction and the setting up of commercial relationships with other civilisations.
AL AIN, ABU DHABI AND HATTA
Outside of the city, there are several other well-known sites for history buffs to explore. Hatta Village lies 115km southeast of Dubai.The 30 buildings – constructed from variousbuilding materials – thatmake up the area date back 2,000 to 3,000 years.
Al Ain, part of the emirate of Abu Dhabi is another hotbed for ancient history.Earlier this year, construction workers in the area unearthed a glazed vase that dates back 2,000 years. It is thought to have been used during the Hellenistic civilisation,a Greek-influenced period in the Middle East’s history. The vase is believed to be an important indicator of the close links between the UAE and Greece during that period. Other artefacts from the area are on display in Al Ain’s National Museum.
Abu Dhabi is also home to the oldest known discovery in the UAE. A site on Marawah Island, 100km west of Abu Dhabi, has been found to date back 7,000 years. The excavation included the discovery of a flint spear and arrowhead as well as a skeleton, believed to be the earliest known inhabitant of Abu Dhabi. The site boasts the best-preserved and most sophisticated stone buildings of the Neolithic age that are known anywhere in Arabia.