Sharjah: An Emirati house built in 1899, which once served as the residence and seat of governance of a late Sheikh, has reopened in Kalba, a seaside town in the eastern region of Sharjah emirate.
‘Bait Sheikh Saeed bin Hamad Al Qasimi’ is a historic landmark, located opposite Kalba Fort, providing visitors with a opportunity to experience and learn about the way of life in pre-oil times and the region’s history through a collection of preserved relics.
Overlooking the Gulf of Oman, the house, which served as a secure residence for the Sheikh’s extended family and as the seat of government, was built according to local design elements and cultural practices.
The museum was inaugurated in the presence of various dignitaries. Khalid Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, in the presence of Sheikh Salem bin Mohammed bin Salem Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Tourism and Commerce Development Authority reopened the house recently.
The Museum’s inauguration was in the presence of Aisha Rashid Deemas, Director-General, Sharjah Museums Authority; Jassim Hussain Buseim, director of the Amiri Diwan in Kalba’a, and Rashid Saeed Obaid bin Fresh Al Kindi, chairman of Suhaila Suburb Council, as well as a number of cultural figures.
Aisha said: “Rejuvenating the house’s role as a cultural and heritage centre demonstrates Sharjah Museums Authority’s unwavering commitment to heighten public consciousness about the emirate’s rich historical and cultural tapestry.”
She added the re-opening is designed to encourage cultural engagements and broaden the public’s understanding of the region’s historical trajectory.
“We hope that the venue will attract tourists and public members alike, stimulating their curiosity to discover the abundant cultural and historical wealth of both the city of Kalba and the Emirate of Sharjah.
“With its diverse exhibits, the house gifts visitors with precious glimpses into the lifestyle and practices of its bygone era, thereby preserving and honouring our collective heritage for future generations to appreciate.”
The eastern section of the house was designated for guards and male visitors and includes an outer Majlis, Al Muktasar (the Sheikh’s Majlis), Al Murabba’a (square defensive tower) with a defensive wall containing Al Mazaghel (loopholes for shooting) and a guard’s room at the southeastern section.
A wall in the courtyard serves to partition the private western zone, allocated for family living areas and service units, from the public-oriented eastern section.
The rooms are designed without windows but feature wind-catchers to ensure both privacy and protection. The living spaces comprise bedrooms, majalis (meeting/sitting rooms), a kitchen, storage areas, rooms for helpers, and two wells.
Unique items from a historic era that are on display in this heritage landmark include an Arabian sword, a traditional Sahili Khanjar (coastal dagger) with a leather scabbard cover beautifully decorated with silver and gold wires.
The historic building also contains a matchlock gun known locally as Um-Fateela adorned with sheet silver, a gift from Sheikh Haitham bin Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Chief of the Sharjah Ruler’s Office in Kalba, in addition to three huge copper cooking pots, and round copper trays gifted from Shaikha Noura Saeed Hamad Majid Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi.
This tourist destination also includes traditional household items such as copper coffee pots, a large decorated ceramic jar with three handles used for the storage of molasses or the fermentation of fish; a Hawin (a mortar made from a large tree trunk) and Midag (a pestle usually made of wood used to pound grain in the mortar, a decorated wooden cradle suspended from the ceiling to protect the child from insects and other pests and a Mandoos, a wooden chest used to store personal items such as clothes, money, weapons and equipment, decorated with copper nails arranged in geometric patterns.