Dubai Cultural Tour at Al Shindagha Historical District | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Mar 31, 2014

Dubai Cultural Tour at Al Shindagha Historical District

Ed and I ditched the usual weekend relaxation at a shopping mall last Friday as the Spring season's not-too-cold, not-too-warm weather is ideal for long walks. It is also the best time to explore Dubai's outdoor attractions. Hence, we put on our comfiest shoes and savored the cool afternoon breeze while on a leisure stroll at the well-kept traditional village in Al Shindagha; a district that illuminates Dubai's rich culture and tradition.

Dubai Cultural Tour: Al Shindagha Historical District

Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's House
We left the ultra-modern Dubai behind and immersed in the city's pre-oil era. Our journey started at Al Shindagha Watchtower located just a couple of steps away from Al Ghubaiba metro station. The watchtower was built in 1939 for defense, and was restored by The Dubai Municipality in 1994. Near the tower is Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's House. Stepping inside the official residence of the visionary Ruler of Dubai (1912-1958), grandfather of the present Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is a surreal experience. Now, the humble abode is also known to be Al Shindagha Museum where historic photographs and documents can be viewed.  

Dubai Cultural Tour: Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House (entrance fee: 3 AED)
Dubai Cultural Tour: photographs at Al Shindagha Museum
historical photographs and documents on display inside Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House 

Dubai Heritage and Diving Village
Our next stop was at the Heritage and Diving Village. The traditional village situated at the mouth of Dubai Creek features the fascinating Bedouin customs in three zones. We were acquainted to the simple desert living at The Desert Zone, amused with the traditional arts and crafts at The Heritage Zone and saw the city as a modest fishing and pearling village at The Diving Zone. This historical neighborhood depicts the struggles and the progress before Dubai became a first world city. 

Dubai Cultural Tour: Desert Zone at Dubai Heritage Village
a glimpse of the desert-dwellers' simple lifestyle
Dubai Cultural Tour: Camels at Dubai Heritage Village
camels at Desert Zone's farm
Dubai Cultural Tour: traditional craft at Dubai Heritage Village
a Bedouin woman making Al Sadu: a traditional handicraft
Dubai Cultural Tour: Art Exhibit by Emirates Fine Arts Society
Art Exhibit by the Emirates Fine Arts Society 
Dubai Cultural Tour: fishing village at Dubai Heritage Village
handmade fishing nets at the Diving Zone
Dubai Cultural Tour: fishing boats at Dubai Heritage Village
wooden boats used for fishing and pearl diving

Traditional Emirati Food
For a foodie couple, a cultural tour isn't complete without having a taste of traditional food. Though al fresco restaurants dotted the bank of the creek, we preferred to grab a quick bite in a Barasti stall at the Diving Zone where local women prepare Al Raqaq and Luqaimat. Both delicacies were made before our very eyes. Al Raqaq was cooked in hot plate, like a crepe. Actually, I was hoping it would taste like a savory crepe, but it's not quite like one. Al Raqaq is crispy and salty with a distinct Arabian flavour.
  
Dubai Cultural Tour: Traditional Emirati food at Dubai Heritiage Village
a local lady making Al Raqaq: a breakfast food made of flour, salt and spices
Dubai Cultural Tour: Luqaimat At Dubai Heritage Village
Luqaimat: a traditional dessert made of flour, yeast, Arabic spices, rose water and sugar 

I had my first Luqaimat in a fine-dining Emirati restaurant last year and I loved it! Seeing how it is cooked at the Heritage Village is a whole new foodie experience. It reminded me of fish balls, a famous street food in the Philippines. Oh how I miss making tusok-tusok the fish balls! Heheh! :) I watched closely as the dumplings turned into golden brown while floating in a deep pan of oil. It was then removed from the oil and drizzled with sugar syrup. Luqaimat is such a treat; crunchy outside, soft inside and delicately sweet! This remains to be my fave traditional Emirati food. 

Dubai Cultural Tour: Al Riqaq and Luqaimat at Dubai Heritage Village
freshly-made traditional Emirati food: Al Raqaq and Luqaimat (only 5 AED each)
Dubai Cultural Tour: Lady at Dubai Heritage Village
snacking on affordable Emirati food 

We had an extraordinary afternoon at the historical district. I was happy to be away from the hustle and bustle of the highly-urbanized city. There, I learned to love Dubai even more. I love its simple past, impressive present and promising future! 

Location:
Al Shindagha Historical Area
near Al Ghubaiba metro station (green line)
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Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's House
Entrance fee as of March 2014: 3 AED
Visiting Hours: Saturday to Thursday: 8:30 am to 9:00 pm
Friday: 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm
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Heritage and Diving Village
No entrance fee!
Visiting Hours: Saturday to Thursday: 8:30 am to 10:00 pm
Friday: 3:30 pm to 10:00 pm 

Opening hours for both attractions change during Ramadan!
Please check Dubai's official tourism portal for current fees and timings.

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