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Shindagha, Bur Dubai, Deira and Al Fahidi to get a facelift

The historical districts of Dubai will be restored and improved to attract more tourists

Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News Archives
Al Shindagha district in Dubai. The upcoming Al Shindagha Museum will feature 17 pavilions and have over 50 collections of historical and cultural artefacts on exhibit.
Gulf News

Dubai: Al Shindagha, Bur Dubai, Deira and Al Fahidi districts will be restored and revamped to showcase Dubai’s rich history and Emirati heritage in three years.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved the plans to improve and develop Dubai’s Historical District, the oldest part of the city centred around Dubai Creek.

The initiative will be led by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), in collaboration with Dubai Municipality and Dubai Culture. The project will transform the area into the leading culture and heritage centre in the region, focusing on trade, crafts and the pearling industry.

The project will cover 1.5 sq km based on five pillars: tradition — focusing on Emirati culture and drawing upon the stories of the area; heritage — protecting historical buildings; trade — preserving traditional ‘souqs’ (markets) and reviving and celebrating traditional trade; community — sharing cultural experiences through restoring squares as gathering places for residents, and promoting performance arts; and finally place making – ensuring the original fabric of the area is preserved and made easy for visitors to navigate.

“Khor Dubai [Dubai Creek] and the Historical District are the soul of the city and define our cultural legacy and our Emirati heritage. Apart from having contributed to the evolution of the city as a global hub for business by promoting trade and commerce, our community today celebrates the cultural identity of Dubai and serves as one of the most inspiring art centres,” said Abdul Rahman Al Owais, UAE Health Minister and Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA).

“Dubai Culture is honoured to partner in this ambitious initiative that will transform the city’s cultural heart, and create a vibrant destination that complements the vision of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to establish Dubai as an international cultural destination,” he added.

Cultural tourism is a key focus in attracting visitors to the emirate. The project will create new cultural and commercial opportunities and ultimately attract 12 million visitors to this historical district by 2020.

“The vision set by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid to sustain and grow our cultural heritage has set the foundation for our joint effort with DTCM and DCAA to create a strong and flagship development,” said Hussain Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality.

“Although the overall delivery will take three years, we are sure that the changes will be felt by visitors very soon. We are sure that this development will enhance our ability to register Khor Dubai as a Unesco World Heritage Site,” Lootah added.

More than 60 projects have been planned as part of the overall redevelopment including Al Shindagha Museum that which will feature 17 pavilions and have over 50 collections of historical and cultural artefacts on exhibit. It will also have a promenade that will connect the Al Shindagha area all the way to the Al Fahidi district to enable visitors to walk seamlessly between the areas of the development.

The area will also feature the Al Fahidi Fort and Al Sabkha as part of the largest open air historic district built around Khor Dubai.


How they will look:

Al Shindagha area

- Floating exhibits housed in traditional pearling and trade boats to retell the culture of the sea

- Outdoor ‘majlis’ and multi-purpose performance centre and square

- Trained Emirati guides and master craftsmen will share stories and promote learning and understanding of the various crafts



- Old watch towers and traditional stores such as red-smiths and cotton makers will be restored

- Historic square will be constructed for visitors to discover Dubai’s history through a series of installations and exhibits from Al Sabkha all the way to Al Ras


Bur Dubai

- Al Fahidi Fort will be restored and expanded as the central heart of the area

- Interactive smart screens showing local stories such as how Dubai Creek evolved over time will be installed


Al Fahidi district

- Art galleries will be promoted through a formal art tour

- Recreations of old trading and craft methods will also be on display


Dubai Creek

- Multiple Abra connections will be added on both sides

- Daily light and sound productions will be projected on the old and new buildings on both sides of Dubai Creek