Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 March 2018

Green light for Dubai Historical District project

Improvements in line with bid to seek UN heritage status.

The Heritage Village in Shindagha provides a glimpse of Dubai’s traditional culture, food and lifestyle. Pawan Singh / The National
The Heritage Village in Shindagha provides a glimpse of Dubai’s traditional culture, food and lifestyle. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // A major renovation project that aims to rejuvenate some of the oldest parts of the city is set to go ahead.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has given his approval for work to begin on developing Dubai’s Historical District.

The project, which includes the building of a museum, pedestrianisation and restoration, will centre around Khor Dubai (Dubai Creek) and is being carried out by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Municipality and Dubai Culture.

The improvements complement the municipality’s plans to qualify as a United Nations World Heritage Site, and will be presented to Unesco in January next year.

“Khor Dubai and the Historical District are the soul of the city, and define our cultural legacy and Emirati heritage,” said Abdul Rahman Al Owais, the Health Minister and chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

“Apart from having contributed to the evolution of the city as a global hub for business by promoting trade and commerce, our community today celebrates the cultural identity of Dubai and serves as one of the most inspiring art centres.”

Work on the project, which will focus on Shindagha, Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi and Deira, could begin later this month.

The project will not only become an important cultural centre, but will also allow Emiratis to reconnect with their history.

The project will cover 1.5 square kilometres and will be completed in phases based on five elements – tradition, heritage, trade, community and place making. It involves more than 60 individual projects, including Al Shindagha Museum, which will feature 17 pavilions and more than 50 collections of historical and cultural artefacts.

The area will also feature a restored Al Fahidi Fort and Al Sabkha area, as part of the largest open-air historic district built. A number of streets in Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi and Deira will be converted to pedestrian walkways, enabling easier access to renovated public areas such as Al Sabkha Square. Visitor parking will be improved throughout the Historical District.

Shindagha will have floating exhibits in traditional pearl and trade boats. Deira’s old watch towers and traditional stores will be restored and a square will be constructed.

The revamped area is expected to attract an estimated 12 million visitors by 2020. “We will endeavour to work closely with DTCM in creating a world-class culture, art and heritage destination,” said Hussein Lootah, the director general of Dubai Municipality.

“We are well prepared to commence the development of the Historical District as early as this month.” The project is expected to take three years, he said. “We are sure that this development will enhance our ability to register Khor Dubai as a Unesco World Heritage Site.”

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of DTCM, said initial work will involve improving souqs in Deira and Bur Dubai, and the revamp of abra stops in Shindagha. “Visitors will be able to fully immerse themselves in the history and explore the authentic culture of Dubai,” she said.