In this post, I will take you around heritage areas of Al Shindagha in Bur Dubai. I started from my hotel apartment at Al Rolla street and walked through Meena Bazaar to be at Al Ghubaiba water transport Station. And I spent the next six hours strolling along the Shingdaga waterfront till the sun went down. It was a day well spent. The creek view was pleasing and of course it was fun to learn about Dubai’s history. The historical significance of this area dates back to 1862. It was around this time only that the King’s (Maktoum) Family had settled on this side of the creek.
Let us do Dubai differently. I am gonna make it simpler for you so that whenever you are here, you can do a couple of things on your own without seeking help from the sightseeing tours and guides. Since I was here for a month last year and now that I am back again this week, I have become comfortable with traveling in Dubai. Now, I love exploring it on my own. Trust me, I just have to google a little bit, use public transport and enjoy being on foot. And the plus is walking serves two purpose, first it helps me soak in the surroundings well and second it helps to add to my physical activity. But if you not very keen on walking, I will let you know about the nearest metro stations too.
This part of ‘Dubai Creek’ is just adjacent to Al Ghubaiba Metro Station as well as Water Transport Station so you can start from any of these places to go around Al Shindaga. The famous Barjeel Heritage Guest House is a stone throw away and as you walk further, you can explore the Heritage Village & the Diving Zone that used to be two villages in olden times. Historical Sheikh Saeed’s House, Old Souk, Abra Station (water taxi) are within a circumference of a kilometer and just opposite to the Al Ghubaiba Water station stands the building of Ministry of Finance (Financial district of Old Dubai). The original settlements of Dubai had made their first dwellings in this area and thus the Shindagha area is of historic importance. As the city progressed around the Dubai Creek, later it was separated in Deira (the commercial center), Bur Dubai (the government center) and Shindagha (the main residential area).
From 1912 to 1958, the then ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum lived in this area and thus Al Shindaga neighborhood has always held its importance as a traditional center in the city of Dubai. Today, I was all keen to explore the region. Here, I take you along this area from the Al Ghubaiba Water Transport Station so just be with me. Keep walking further until you see the building of Ministry of Finance. Just opposite to it you will find the Al Ghubaiba Cafeteria as below. From here my photo-story will take you along.
At the Water Station, the cafeteria was crowded with people. As I walked towards the heritage buildings, I found this replica of Jalboat. There I stood and read about it first and then moved further. It was interesting to know more about Dubai’s maritime history. The Creek looked beautiful and I could see a number water taxis and boats standing to woo the visitors. A few meters to my left was one of the oldest watch tower of Dubai. I was headed towards it to read what was written just below it.
Watch tower is a fortification that functions as an elevated observation point. As the name suggests, it was usually stationed to keep a watch on the city and its people. In the olden times, people observing from these towers helped in timely action against attack from enemies, forest fires and others. Just when I was done with it my eyes fell on the corner most house next to the watch tower. It was the ‘House of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum’. I looked for the entrance and it read Juthoor Art Center. The entry was free and thus the guard guided me in almost immediately. When I went inside, I learnt that a few rooms of the House of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum were being used as an art gallery. The art work and the painting inside were beautiful and gave a peek in the life and style of Arabic people. The lady with the niqab is my favorite painting from there. Most of these paintings were not for sale.
I watched all the paintings very keenly. There were only three rooms which were open for visitors and thus I was done with this place in flat thirty minutes. I am not an expert at art appreciation but yes I have an eye for everything creative and colorful. For some people this place may not hold interest for even five minutes but for me it did. Next, I walked along the waterfront to find a lovely restaurant- BARJEEL. The place was buzzing with visitors. No doubt, it had a great location with a panoramic view of the waterfront curve. I had just begun my walk after heavy lunch and thus I did not stop. However I wanted to go to the top and see the guest house but I continued my walk keeping it for some other time. Next was ‘Dubai Historical Documents Center’ , ‘House of Poetry’, Quindeel Bookstore and then the ‘King’s House’ that I was curious around.
Every house seemed to tell its own story. The historical connect was evident in the construction of the buildings. But they all looked new and well looked after. Of course I had also read that all these buildings had been renovated a few years ago to keep the history alive and open for visitors to come over and learn about the bygone era. To be at the house of Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum, I crossed the small mosque of the area followed by a few more interesting and old buildings. While I was yet to stumble upon the lamp post, I looked towards the Creek on the other side which shone resplendently bright and beautiful as the rays of the sun played with the water. The month of December was just perfect to do an afternoon walk around here.
The entry to the house costed me 3 Dhirams. The King’s house had a rare collection of historic photographs, coins, stamps, maritime, old family photographs and documents that record Dubai’s history. A few rooms were closed and a few imposed restriction on photography. The coins room was very interesting and also I loved going through the old pictures of the King’s family in black and white. This place shows Dubai that we hardly know of. Some 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe who were led by the Maktoum Family has settled around this area when Dubai only knew fishing, pearling and sea trade. In 1930, Dubai’s population was only 20,000. I learnt a lot here. I will do a separate blog post around this place.
In the museum I spend around one and half hour. Its not at all huge. There are only eight to ten rooms to keep the visitors curious. After coming out of the museum, I wanted to continue the walk and explore the Diving Village and the Heritage Village but I had heard that it was worth going in there only after the sunset. There was still some time before the sun went down. I met another traveler and she told me that the diving village was closed for renovation and the Heritage Village buzzed with activity in the later part of the day. Thus I decided to just stay, sit on a bench and stare at the creek. I was inspired by the people around me who were enjoying their leisure time. Some were sitting alone and some in good company. I looked for a vacant bench but did not find one. I kept strolling around aimlessly till I reached the Barjeel restaurant again.
Do read the next post that follows tomorrow. It tells you more about this area, about the beautiful sunset behind the watch tower. You must know what the Heritage Village is all about and why Shindaga area is a must do in the night. The waterfront looks beautiful and there are many open-air eateries to enjoy food and sheesha.