Dubai Municipality has won an architectural award for its restoration of a traditional house in the Bastakiya area of Bur Dubai. Originally built in 1931, the house belonged to Mohammed Sharif Sultan al Olama, a prominent lawyer and student of the Emirati poet Mubarak bin Hamad al Aqaili. The two-storey house was partially restored in the 1970s and 1990s, and used as offices by the municipality before undergoing a more complete restoration in 2006. Today it is the headquarters of the Architectural Heritage Department and is open to the public.
According to the World Architectural Community website, which posts informal reviews of restoration projects from around the world, the project was a deserving winner of the World Architecture Award. "The house of Mohammed Sharif al Olama represents one of the finest examples of wind tower houses in United Arab Emirates. It is a record of collective memory and everyday life for the Emirati society in the middle of the 20th century," the review says. "The restoration of the House of Mohammed Sharif Sultan al Olama Project reflects a sensitive approach to rehabilitation ... the restoration principles employed may well serve as a guide for further projects concerned with conservation of cultural properties."
Rashad Bukhash, the director of the Architectural Heritage Department, said the award showed that Dubai was taking care to preserve its history. "This was one of the best examples of the few remaining houses in Bastakiya and surrounding areas, with rich traditional architecture and engineering, which has become one of the most important symbols of local architecture in the UAE," he said. "The project was a unique example in the restoration and preservation of historic buildings."