Discovering More .... Dubai
Opening times Sat – Thur 7.30 – 21.00 Fri 15.00-21.00. Admission 2Dhs. No credit cards.
Courtyard of Sheikh’s House
Born in 1878, Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum ruled Dubai from 1912 – 1958. The Shindagha House was originally built in 1886 at a strategic position on the mouth of the Creek by Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum, Sheik Saeed’s father, and served as a home to his extended family. It is a traditional coral brick structure built around a large courtyard and was probably one of the first houses in the area to have the Iranian inspired wind towers. At that time the house was surrounded largely by sand and palm trees.
It is in the Maktoum family compound that the current Sheikh Mohammed grew up. The family lived in four small rooms with thick coral walls, low doorways and small windows – there was no electricity in the early days of his life and the toilet was a hole in the floor leading to a pit. It remained their home until Sheikh Saeed’s death in 1958 when it was abandoned and became derelict until its restoration.
The house is now a museum and houses photographs, stamps and currency. There is a gallery showing the currency used during the development of Dubai and another gallery does the same for stamps. The coins and stamps show the use of British Stamps overprinted with Rupee as well as the use of the Rupee as currency at times in the development of Dubai.
The photographs displayed in the Sheikh’s house show Dubai in the 1950s, 1960’s and 1970’s and are fascinating. They seem to come from another era with souks, craftsmen, fishing, camel racing and general local scenes around the Shindagha area – there is not a skyscraper in sight. Another gallery contains photographs of Sheikh Saeed and his family – again it is difficult to appreciate that these were taken comparatively recently. Although the Heritage House Museum in Al Ras is better at showing the Gulf lifestyle, this museum is worth visiting just to look at the photographs that demonstrate just how quickly this area has changed.