Dubai: The legacy of a Dubai royal, who was an expert in perfumery, will now linger on through a new museum where visitors can “smell” and trace the ancient roots of perfumery in Dubai.
The home of the late Shaikha Shaikha Bint Saeed Al Maktoum (1918-2017), gifted by her brother, late Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai (1958-1990) and Vice President of the UAE (1971-1990), has been converted into “House of Perfumes Museum”.
During a media tour on Wednesday, Dawood Al Hajiri, director general of Dubai Municipality said, the “House of Perfumes” and “Dubai Creek House” museums form the first phase of the Shindagha Museums Project that aims to open about 25 museums as part of the plan to revive and develop the historic Dubai area.
A first of its kind in the Middle East dedicated to highlighting the importance of UAE perfumes and its history in the Emirate of Dubai, the House of Perfumes offers a chance for visitors to literally smell and experience the age-old history of perfumery here.
A 1.2m high piece of an oud with a weight of 28kg from the collection of Shaikha Shaikha, which is currently valued at Dh200m, is one of the main attractions in the museum.
A prominent perfumer herself, late Shaikha Shaikha would make perfume in her bedroom, bury it in her private courtyard for fermentation, and preserve it under her bed for months.
Dh200mis the estimated value of the 1.2m high piece of oud at the museum
“Perfume House is a tribute to her craft and her love for traditional, handmade Emirati perfume,” explained Shatha Al Mulla, head of Research and Studies Unit, Architectural Heritage and Antiques Department of Dubai Municipality.
An almost 3,000-year-old incense burner, which was retrieved from the Saruq Al Hadid archaeological site, is proof that the history of Dubai’s perfume culture was established thousands of years ago, officials said. The museum features over 60 archaeological and historical artefacts related to perfumery, an Emirati perfume workshop, and showcases history of rare types of perfumes like wearing fragrances, Al Bida’ah, a powdered perfume, which is not used any more etc.
Built with the participation of the people, the museum evokes powerful memories created through the sense of smell that are associated with specific environments and moments.
Dubai Creek House
The second museum, ‘Dubai Creek House: The Origin of a City’, sheds light on the history of Dubai Creek and the role of the community and the rulers in its rise. It is done through more than 150 heritage and historical artefacts, photographs and films of Dubai from mid-twentieth century that tells the story of Dubai Creek.
“Dubai has a history of 200 years. But much before that, there were settlements dating 5,000 years ago. We have some swords, nose rings, ornaments, snakes and other figurines and arrowheads from the stone and metal age recovered from three archaeological sites in Dubai,” said Al Mulla.
Ahmad Mohammad Abdul Karim, CEO of Support Services Sector at Dubai Municipality, said the Municipality has implemented the two museums with state-of-the-art interactive technology at a cost of Dh50 million.
The Shindagha Museum Project is a joint venture with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
Dubai Municipality has restored and reconstructed over 150 historical buildings for the mega project set to be complete before Expo 2020.
House of Perfume and Dubai Creek House museums
■ Where: Shindagha Heritage Village (Next to Al Ghubaiba Metro Statio)
■ Opening hours: 10am to 6pm, Saturday to Thursday except Tuesday and 2.30pm to 9pm on Friday
■ Entry fee: Dh15 together for both museums, Dh10 for groups having more than 10 members
■ Free entry for senior citizens and people of determination