• LOCATION 12 | Tales of the Past: Tracing Dubai’s origins in Deira

    Al Ahmadiya School

    Turn left now, in front of the Bin Lootah Mosque at the end of this lane.

    Can you see the entrance to the Al Ahmedia Guesthouse, just ahead? Go in that direction, but look out for an ornate entranceway before it. That is the Al Ahmadiya School. Stop for a moment when you reach it.

    Al Ahmadiya was the first school in Dubai. It was founded in 1912 by the late Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmouk, who was one of the most prominent pearl merchants in the Arabian Gulf at the time.

    The school had an impressive roster of teachers, including a number of scientists and scholars from across the Gulf. It was in operation until 1958, and in 1994, the Dubai Government restored Al Ahmadiya School and converted it into a museum.

    Many of the school’s most notable alumni have gone on to become influential personalities and leaders. You might recognise some of their names. One of them is the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who became Ruler of Dubai in 1958. He’s the father of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the current Ruler of Dubai.

    Sheikh Rashid was one of the founding fathers of the UAE, and diversifying the economy of Dubai beyond oil was his strategic vision. Oil deposits were first discovered in the UAE during his reign, and revenue from it was invested in developing Dubai into the regional hub you find here today.

    Sheikh Rashid famously said this: "My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.”

    His sons, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also attended Al Ahmadiya school. Sheikh Maktoum ruled Dubai from 1990 until his passing in 2006, when he was succeeded by his brother Sheikh Mohammed.

    You might remember me mentioning the Bani Yas clan, who were the first settlers of Dubai. The ruling Al Maktoum dynasty is descended from them and is behind the emirate’s rapid urbanisation and transformation.

    When you’re ready, continue past the school, towards Al Ahmadiya Guesthouse.

Tales of the Past: Tracing Dubai’s origins in Deira