Timeframe: Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest symbol of culture in Dubai

The building has been standing strong in Dubai's historic district since 1787

The world watched as the UAE welcomed its newest cultural symbol this week, when the Museum of the Future finally opened its doors.

But just across Sheikh Zayed Road, in the historic Al Fahidi district, Dubai's oldest cultural symbol still stands strong. Built in 1787 by the Dubai ruling family, it was originally used to guard the landward approaches to the area.

In 1969, members of the Dubai ruling family sent a letter to Sheikh Badr Mohammad Al Sabah, head of the office of state in Kuwait, asking for the help of a museum expert to transform the use of the building. Two years later, in 1971, the fort was renovated for use as a museum, and currently houses the national Dubai Museum.

Exhibitions and displays depicting pre-oil Dubai life were set up in the central square of the fort, with rooms of the former majlis and living quarters transformed into distinct decades of the emirate.

There were also galleries recreating scenes from the Dubai Creek, traditional Emirati houses, mosques, souqs, date farms, desert and marine life.

One of the old rooms was transformed into an exhibition portraying the pearl diving industry, including sets of pearl-merchants' weights, scales and sieves.

The museum is temporarily closed, however, for renovations.

In January, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, announced major renovation plans for Al Fahidi Fort.

Sheikh Hamdan said the building was a historical witness to the emirate's transformation and it was vital to preserve it for future generations and to carry on the work started by Sheikh Rashid, who ruled Dubai from 1958 to 1990.

"Preserving the heritage ... of the emirate is an integral part of our work," Sheikh Hamdan said. "Our heritage represents our values that we cherish and preserve."

He said the fort will continue in its role as a pillar of the cultural scene, although did not offer any further details of what the renovation would entail or when work would be complete.

Scroll through the gallery to see photos of inside Museum of the Future:

Updated: February 25, 2022, 8:33 PM
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