Tracing the past, brick by brick at Traditional Architecture Museum

Tracing the past, brick by brick at Traditional Architecture MuseumImage Credit: Ishita B. Saha

The historical district of Al Shindagha in Dubai is a historical treasure trove with a hidden gem in almost every corner. The beautifully restored house of Shaikh Juma Al Maktoum with an exhibit on traditional Arab architecture is one such place.

The magnificent property with a pleasant courtyard and overlooking the Creek was built in 1927. Its wind towers and general structure reflect the architecture of the region during that period, but is equally classical in its appeal. Due to its history, the house has been selected to become the Traditional Architecture Museum and serves as a good starting point to learn about traditional Emirati architecture and heritage. As you enter the house, the caretaker takes you through the different rooms, while an interactive video helps you understand Dubai’s gradual transformation from Bedouin life to an urban landscape.

Frames of traditional Arabian doors that open into the courtyard are like photo exhibits. A closer look reveals the beauty of the intricate carvings on wood panels, with each door reflecting a different design. The rooms have high ceilings, which keep them cool, and as you move from room to room you can’t help but marvel at the science behind the wind towers that provide sufficient ventilation for the entire property by extracting hot air via conduction and allowing cool air to flow in.

The neighbourhood of Bastakiya was home to Persia’s immigrant Bastak people, who introduced these barjeels or towers, which are a symbol of old Dubai. Incidentally, these wind towers were built during summer and taken down in winter.

The house has a hall dedicated to materials and tools used in traditional construction and on the first floor, sculptures of masons working on scaffolds seem straight out of a history book. The Architecture Museum, like most homes in the heritage area, has its balcony overlooking the Creek. So in earlier times, men could monitor trading activities from home. It’s no wonder that a visit to the Traditional Architecture Museum takes you back in time.

The next time you walk along the narrow alleys of old Dubai and enter one of the heritage homes, pay attention to the planning that has gone into building them. In fact, many of Dubai’s high-rises take a lesson or two from the heritage architecture of Shindagha. n

The Traditional Architecture Museum is a few minutes’ walk from the Al Ghubaiba Metro station. It is open from 8am-2pm and admission is free.

Source: Ishita B. Saha, Special to Property Weekly

Ishita B. Saha is the founder of Foodemagdxb. com and author of

For Rent


View more properties

For Sale


View more properties