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A sort of time warp-meets-craft fair, the Dubai Heritage & Diving Village is a great place to see the more traditional aspects of Dubai life that are missing from the modern city. The Village is ideal for uncovering ancient artifacts unlike those found in any other part of the world, and to pick up a unique Arabian bowl or basket. Situated close to the mouth of Dubai Creek, this village gives you the opportunity to delve into Dubai's fascinating past. Today, Dubai is known globally as an epitome of modern architecture and technology, a visit to Heritage & Diving Village gives you a glimpse of the humbler times gone by.
Dubai Camel Museum or Beit Al-Rekkab (House of the Camels) as it is commonly known, is off the tourist track. Probably because it is tucked behind Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House. But it is an interesting place to visit just to get a glimpse of the love the Arabs have for their "ships of the desert." The exhibits will take you through the anatomy, its history, its role in the Arab world, medicinal benefits, camel racing and more. There are also displays of legendary tribesmen and their camels mentioned in Arabic literature.
The historic Sheikh Obaid bin Thani House lies within the Al Shindagha region, right next to the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House. Established in 1916, the two-storied structure covers a total of 1250 square meters (13454.9 square feet). Made almost entirely of stones derived from the neighboring sea with mud gypsum, the magnificent building features many aspects that are are a mainstay of Arabian architecture, such as doorways and windows. The interiors of the historic home remain largely unchanged, and feature rich Persian rugs, gorgeous artworks and home elements, traditional furniture and the original seating arrangement and much more. Now converted into a museum, the Sheikh Obaid bin Thani House remains open all week and provides interesting insights into the Emirati culture.
The Horse Museum is set in a building built for Sheikha Moza bint Saeed Al-Maktoum. This two-story museum is off the tourist radar and only the locals know about it. It gives you a fascination insight into the world of horses, their importance to the Arabs, anatomy and racing. There is also an interesting display of legendary tribesmen with their horses from the Arabic literature.
A fine example of early 20th-century architecture, the Bait Al Wakeel was the first building in Dubai dedicated exclusively to administration. This early office building is worth a visit to check out the primitive facilities that Dubai's bureaucracy had to contend with. Dubai is a port city and this comes across clearly at Bait Al Wakeel, which is now home to a museum that offers an educational window into Dubai's fishing and maritime traditions. It also houses a fine heritage restaurant which is worth a visit.
This historic landmark marks the city's first school. Originally built in 1912, the Al Ahmadiya School underwent major renovations in 1920 and 1922. With a religious curriculum, this institution upheld the educational standards initiated by the earliest sacred figures, the Al-Muttawa and the Muttawa. Throughout its history, teachings have included the Koran and Islamic law. The carefully crafted architecture makes it an excellent place to get a sense of the history that has helped define Dubai. Admission is free.
The district of Al Fahidi in Dubai is known to be a prestigious historical site. It previously housed the rich families of the city protecting their privacy. Sophisticated architecture and the rough-walled houses are a stereo type in this district. Al Fahidi also has a number of restaurants and cafes. Spending time here would transport you to a different era altogether.
Deira Spice Souk is one of the vibrant markets of Dubai and is filled with shops in narrow alleys. It is next to the Gold Souk and will lure you in with its sweet and pungent aromas of spices and fragrances. You will find herbal products, dried fruits, common and rare spices, incense, saffron, frankincense, rose petals and hibiscus. It is also among the best places in town to buy quality spices at bargain prices. Only thing is you have to haggle a lot and carry cash.