• LOCATION 8 | Tales of the Past: Tracing Dubai’s origins in Deira

    The Poet Museum

    Stop here for a moment, just before you actually go down the alley leading to The Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili. You should be able to see it from the corner.

    This was the home of Mubarak bin Hamad bin Mubarak Al Manea Al Oqaili, a celebrated poet and Dubai luminary. It’s just one of the buildings around here that is steeped in history.

    Lots of locals can trace back their lineage to families who once lived in this area, or plied their trade in the souks. In fact, it was in these buildings that Dubai’s most precious export was traded 100 years ago.

    We’ve mentioned it before, but do you remember what Dubai’s first important industry was? That’s right, it was pearling, and it’s an Emirati tradition that goes back over 1,000 years.

    Pearl divers went out to sea between May and September every year. Then they dived for 12 to 14 gruelling hours a day. Pearl-producing oysters thrived in the UAE because of its warm, salty water, and pearls from the region secured high prices around the world. The pearls were admired for their colour, incredible lustre and luminosity.

    When they returned to shore at the end of a pearling season, the dhows would be brimming full of sparkling pearls ready to be traded right here in the souk.

    So why are pearls not traded today, you might ask? Well, the industry collapsed after the introduction of artificial pearls into the market by the Japanese after World War One. But it still has a foothold here. In 2013, pearls harvested from UAE waters were sold at auction for the first time in modern history, and many people are keen to revive the industry.

    Okay, let’s continue now. We’re going straight ahead, away from the Museum of the Poet.

    You'll come out into an open area. When you do, cross it and follow the alley to the right that leads out onto Al Ras Road.

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