x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Modern Dubai is also the preserve of many historic buildings

Dubai is well-known for its soaring modern towers, but a surprising number of historic buildings survive - and many have been restored by the municipality's architectural heritage department.

Dubai is well known for its soaring modern towers, but a surprising number of historic buildings survive – and many have been restored by the municipality’s architectural heritage department.

Some of the most important structures are in the original populated area close to the Creek in Bastikiya, with its distinctive wind towers rising up from merchants’ houses, and Shindagha. They include the city’s oldest surviving building, Al Fahidi Fort, which dates to 1799 and now houses Dubai Museum.

Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House in Shindagha was built in 1896 as the seat of the ruling family, and is also now also a museum. Al Ahmadiya School in Deira opened in 1912 and educated generations of youngsters until 1965.

Remnants of the city wall, which date to 1800, survive, and there are also historic mosques and souqs. Old mountain houses and a 16th century Portuguese fort still stand in Hatta.

“We are trying to maintain, as much as possible, these areas,” said Rashad Bukhash, the department’ director. “We preserve heritage and maintain it because it is one of the pillars that modern, contemporary societies depend on.”

* Colin Simpson