Old And New In Dubai


Here is the dhow harbour on Dubai Creek as seen from a water taxi. The photo itself is old, so I expect this vista may well have even higher high rises these days. The whole place was a building-site in the late ‘90s.

Dubai is of course the trading-tourist-business hub of the Middle East, if not the planet.  Given its position on the Persian Gulf, it is likely that its  trading past goes way back to prehistoric times. (Much still remains to be discovered beneath the desert sands that invaded the peninsula from the second millennium BCE).

There is little of great antiquity in the city now, although the dhows are of course successors of the fleets that traded down the African coast and across the Indian Ocean for the last two thousand years. The oldest surviving building is the Al Fahidi Fort  built in 1787. It now houses a fabulous small museum; or rather, the museum was created by excavating underneath the fort courtyard and was easy to miss when we were there. And if ever you are in Dubai – it should not be missed.


Throughout the 19th century it seems the Creek-side settlement was little more than a village with fishermen, pearl divers, passing Bedouin and Indian and Persian traders. But by the end of the century the ruler of Dubai, was having a grand house built for him: the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House is also a museum, its fabric, including the fine (air conditioning) wind towers immaculately restored.


And then of course there are the covered souks (gold, spices, perfume), although these are now probably quite out-done by the plethora of shop-till-you-drop designer shopping malls.




And then there is the Jumeirah Beach hotel (modest version) and the arish , a traditional summer house, complete with hessian wind tower as seen inside the Al Fahidi Fort:




And now an old-new, yet almost timeless scene:



Lens-Artists: Old & New Please visit Amy who set us this week’s challenge. As always she has some striking photographs to show us.

31 thoughts on “Old And New In Dubai

  1. Thank you, Tish for your fabulous photos and stories of this very special city. The timeless scene of Dubai is my favorite. 🙂

    1. From what I’ve seen of recent holiday ads, I think Dubai probably wins the prize for fastest, tallest, most opulent, over-the-top, all-over makeover on the planet. We thought the beach hotels were pretty flash in the late ’90s, now they are simply jaw-dropping. And presumably very empty!

  2. That was interesting, Tish. I did some work in Dubai about 12 years ago and found it fascinating, though there is a dark side to it. I thought it had an unreal, temporary feel, too. And I did enjoy the souks, especially the spice souk. They love their shopping malls – my favourite was the Souk Madinat at Jumeirah which, although entirely created from scratch, is rather lovely.

    1. Yes, everything felt pretty fluid back in ’98 too. The whole highway from Jumeirah to the city centre was a building site, blocks of apartments going up everywhere. Graham had been there in the mid 80’s as he had a chum living there, but hardly recognised the place. I enjoyed our night in the desert best of all.

  3. And I just pass through – or so I did in the past! A year since I visited Warsaw – the longest absence since 2012, and I’m dreaming (literally) about it, and about cuddling twins.

    1. Hello, Ju-Lyn. I think you’ll find today’s Dubai hugely different from my version. The epic building that’s gone on in the past couple of decades is almost beyond belief.

      1. I have heard accounts from many friends who have loved their travels there. But I think it is the same with development – with convenience and tourism, sometimes some of the charm gets missing.

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