Dubai’s Time Machine A Guide to the Al Fahidi Fort

Dubai’s Time Machine: A Guide to the Al Fahidi Fort

Have you ever played strategy video games – or ones that specifically include watchtowers? Well, Al Fahidi Fort in Dubai actually had real watchtowers that were used to guard the city!

But that’s not all. This fort, now the Dubai Museum, was also once a royal residence and military center.

If this sparks your interest in learning some history, continue reading, and let’s navigate this fascinating museum together!

What is the Al Fahidi Fort?

The Al Fahidi Fort is a historic landmark in Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical District. It exhibits Dubai’s history, traditional lifestyles, local antiques, and artifacts from trade partners in Africa and Asia.

This fort is old – we’re talking 1787 old! It’s had different jobs in the past, from being a fancy royal home to a garrison or military outpost, and even a prison!

The folks who built it used old-school materials like coral blocks and lime, which were common back in the day. They put up those tall towers for defense against any intruders. 

The walls are made of seashells and coral bits stuck together with lime. They did this because, well, there weren’t many other materials around back then.

In 1971, they decided to turn this historical gem into the Dubai Museum. So, now it’s all about telling the story of Dubai and the UAE.

Inside, you’ll find all sorts of cool displays, like mini-scenes that show you what life was like in Dubai before they struck oil. And there are also awesome things from African and Asian countries that used to trade with Dubai.

Best Time to Go

The best time to go to Al Fahidi Fort is in the winter months, from November to April, when the weather is more nice and comfy. This is perfect for checking out the historical exhibits and wandering around without melting in the heat.

But if you don’t mind it, you can visit during the shoulder months (between the peak and off-peak seasons) from May to October. 

It’s less crowded, and you might get some discounts! But just a fair warning: Dubai turns oven-like with its summer heat.

Things to Know

Address: Al Fahidi District, Dubai
Contact details: +971 0 4 353 1862; [email protected]
Operating hours:

  • Saturday through Thursday, 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM
  • Friday, 2:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Entry fee:

  • Adult – AED 3
  • Children (under age of 6) – AED 1

Parking situation: There’s paid parking right in front of the Dubai Museum, about AED 4 per hour. You’ll also find other parking lots around the Al Fahidi Quartier area with rates ranging from 2 AED to 4 AED per hour.

​​How to Get Around

Moving around Al Fahidi Fort is a breeze with various transportation options. Here’s a quick rundown:

Car: Just punch it into your GPS, and you’ll find your way. Al Fahidi Fort is a famous landmark, so it’s easy to spot on most navigation apps.

Taxi: Taxis are everywhere in Dubai! You can flag one down, call for one, or use ride-hailing apps. Just tell the driver you’re heading to “Al Fahidi Fort” or “Dubai Museum,” and they’ll know the way.

Metro: The nearest metro station is Al Fahidi Metro Station on the Green Line. 

Bus: The nearest bus station is Al Ghubaiba Bus Station 1, about a 10-minute walk from the fort. You can take bus routes 15, 21, 29, 8, 83, or C18 to reach this station.

What to Do at Al Fahidi Fort

Visit the Dubai Museum

The Dubai Museum is the city’s main attraction, snugly nestled inside the Al Fahidi Fort. It’s your time machine to Dubai’s history and culture, starting with the discovery of oil.

Here, you can dive into the past with exhibits and mini-scenes showcasing how people lived and traded and the impact of different cultures like Islamic, Persian, and African influences.

Explore the Central Courtyard

The middle of the Al Fahidi Fort has a courtyard with halls all around it that hold different displays. In this courtyard, you’ll spot a bronze cannon with cannonballs, a well, and other kinds of boats.

This open area takes you back to when the fort was all about defense and historical significance.

Delve into the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

The Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood is a beautifully restored heritage area that keeps old Dubai’s traditional look and way of life alive. With its narrow streets, wind towers, courtyards, and 19th-century houses, it’s like stepping back in time.

You can also enjoy cultural events, art galleries, cafes, and museums here, all showcasing local and regional arts and crafts. This is perfect in soaking up old Dubai’s genuine and charming vibe.

Watch a Cultural Show at the Sheikh Mohammed Center

The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a non-profit group that’s your go-to place for getting to know Emirati culture and religion.

Housed in one of the oldest houses in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood (built in 1890), the center offers a variety of programs and activities. This includes cultural shows, tours, meals, and mosque visits.

Shop at Textile Souk

The Textile Souk is a lively market with an array of fabrics, carpets, clothes, and accessories in local and regional styles. It’s a true delight if you enjoy bargaining and shopping for colorful and memorable items.

It’s also just across the Dubai Creek from Al Fahidi Fort, and you can get there by taking a water taxi called an abra.

Unveil the Past at the Al Shindagha Museum

The Al Shindagha Museum in Dubai is a top-notch heritage museum. It’s all about showing off Dubai’s rich history and how it connects to the future. The museum tells the story of different civilizations linked to this region.

Here, you can explore houses along Dubai Creek that tell the story of the emirate’s history and ancient culture.

Wander around the Meena Bazaar

Meena Bazaar is a bustling market where you’ll have a one-of-a-kind shopping adventure. It’s like a little piece of India in Dubai, thanks to its strong Indian influence.

You can discover textiles, beautifully hand-embroidered clothes, special antiques, spices, jewelry, and tasty street food here.

Discover the World of Caffeine at the Coffee Museum

The Coffee Museum in Al Fahidi is a caffeine lover’s paradise, delving into the history and culture of coffee from various places and times. 

You can discover where it all began – the different types of coffee and how it’s roasted, brewed, and served.

Plus, you’ll learn about the social and economic sides of this beloved drink, along with an incredible collection of antique coffee items like grinders, pots, cups, and books.

Where to Eat near Al Fahidi Fort

Vaibhav Vegetarian Restaurant

Address: Al Fahidi St, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 353 8130
Pricing: $

Vaibhav Vegetarian Restaurant is a nearby vegetarian eatery close to Al Fahidi Fort. They serve up delicious North Indian and Chinese cuisine. 

Their menu boasts a variety of dishes, including paneer tikka, chole bhature, pav bhaji, and manchurian. They even offer a thali option, which includes a complete meal with roti, rice, dal, sabzi, salad, and dessert.

Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Cafe – Al Fahidi

Address: Bastakiya, Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 353 5071
Pricing: $$

The Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Cafe is a well-known gem in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, close to Al Fahidi Fort. It’s located in a traditional Emirati wind tower house, brimming with regional heritage and charm.

Here, you can enjoy many Emirati and Middle Eastern dishes. They serve traditional breakfast options, mezze platters, grilled meats, and delightful desserts like Um Ali and Luqaimat.

Beyond the delicious food, the cafe has a peaceful vibe with a lovely courtyard and traditional Arabian seating. Plus, they’re known for their variety of teas, including unique Arabic blends.

Special Ostadi

Address: Metro Station, Al Mussallah Rd, Al Fahid, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 397 1933
Pricing: $

Special Ostadi is a classic restaurant that’s been dishing out Persian cuisine since 1978. It’s located near Al Fahidi Fort and stands out with its vibrant signboard and posters.

Inside, the restaurant has a unique and eclectic vibe, adorned with photos of celebrities and memorabilia on the walls.

And they don’t hold back on food portions, either. You can enjoy generous servings of kebabs, biryanis, stews, and bread. They even have a signature dish called Ostadi Special Kebab, made with marinated lamb meat in yogurt and spices.

Sherlock Holmes English Pub

Address: Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa
Phone: +971 50 450 3794
Pricing: $$

If you’re in the mood for a British-style pub, look no further than Sherlock Holmes English Pub, located near Al Fahidi Fort. It’s the perfect place for a laid-back evening with drinks and snacks.

The pub has a warm and inviting ambiance with wooden interiors, comfy leather sofas, and bookshelves for that classic British feel. They have a big screen for sports fans and live music on select evenings!

Their menu offers a variety of treats like fish and chips, burgers, pies, salads, and, of course, a selection of beers. If you’re up for fun, you can play darts or pool with your friends. 

Where to Stay near Al Fahidi Fort

Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa

Address: Al Seef, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 351 9111
Pricing: $
Book now

Looking for a taste of genuine Arabian hospitality? The Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa is the perfect choice, just 0.1 miles from Al Fahidi Fort.

This place blends traditional architecture and décor with modern comforts. They’ve got a spa with massages, facials, and hammams to help you unwind. You’ve got food options too; they’ve got 3 restaurants: Indian, Chinese, and international.

And the best part? The hotel is near Dubai Creek, the Gold Souk, and Meena Bazaar. It’s the perfect spot to soak up the best of Dubai!

XVA Art Hotel

Address: Al Fahidi Neighborhood, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 353 5383
Pricing: $
Book now

The XVA Art Hotel in Dubai is an excellent and artsy spot. It’s just 0.2 miles away from Al Fahidi Fort. The hotel is in an old, renovated house in the Al Fahidi area, known for its art spots and cafes.

They have 14 rooms, each of which has been uniquely themed and created by local artists. You can check out some fantastic art in the hotel’s gallery or buy souvenirs at the gift shop.

If you’re hungry, why not have a go with their café with veggie and vegan food, plus yummy homemade cakes? You can chill here and explore Dubai’s artsy side.

Grayton Hotel by Blazon

Address: Al Mankhool, Bur Dubai, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 401 0000
Pricing: $$
Book now

If you’re looking for a fancy place in Dubai, the Grayton Hotel by Blazon Hotel is worth checking out. It’s only 0.7 miles from Al-Fahidi Fort.

They’ve got a rooftop pool with a fabulous city view, a gym, and a spa with many services. They also have 2 restaurants as well – one for fancy meals and one for casual dining, with Mediterranean and Indian food.