History & Culture

Abu Dhabi
There are many archeological sites in Abu Dhabi that shed lights on the rich and ancient history of the emirate. The sites contain a number of forts that represent a living picture of the region's culture and heritage.

Once a visitor approached Abu Dhabi through Al Maqta bridge, he would be impressed by the Amaqta Fort, which was built before 200 years, and which was a monitoring point for military purposes in order to protect the city's boundaries from aggressors. And just like the other archeological treasuries, Almaqta Fort has also undergone renovation works and improvement to welcome the visitors right form Abha Hilla.
Also there is Qasrul Hisn or The White Fort in the capital along Khalid Bin Walid street near Cultural Establishment. The fort, which was built in 1761 was the family residence for Al Nahayyan; Abu Dhabi rulers until 1966.

In Alain city there Heila archeological site that contains some settlements that that date back to the bronze age and some the remnant of some ancient graves, potteries and stone vessels, all of which of historical significance and which are all displayed in Alain Museum. The site is also surrounded by a public park that provides fantastic relaxation opportunities for families.

Umm Nar, which dates back to 2700-3200 years BC, is also one of the most important archeological sites in the emirate. Likewise, Almuruh Island at some 100 kilometers west of Abu Dhabi city, as well as Bid'a Bint Su'ud region north of Alain.

Some archeological discoveries indicate that, since almost four thousand years ago, Dubai coast was a small fishing village. And it is believed that, the harbor on the creek had used to be very busy as Dubai was on the way between "Mesopotamia" and "Wadi Indus"
Archeologist has recently discovered hundreds of archeological personal effects made by man (e.g. potteries. Weapons and coins etc), which date back to the third millennium BC. These archeological items indicate that, there were communities in the emirate then. The items are displayed in Dubai Museum, and there are still a number of forts, mosques, places and other archeological sites in Dubai that represent some important tourist attractions for tourist tour operators.

Dubai became famous since 18th century when it was fishing and diving city. The Arab tribe of Bani Yas came to Dubai in 1833 under the leadership of Sheikh Maktoum Bin Btyy, the founder of the first Dubai emirate, and ever since it has been under Almaktoum dynasty to date. Afterwards, other Bani Yas tribes and other tribes came to Dubai, which doubled her population a number of times. The good leadership provided by Almaktoum dynasty has had a profound impact in transforming Dubai from a fishing and diving village into a sprawling business city. 

Dubai was then a vibrant and developed commercial hub that was owing to her geographical location where she is located on the coast, which had a creek that was the best natural harbor in the south of the Arabian Gulf. The creek has a huge influence on the daily life of Dubai inhabitant then. 

Sharjah has been able to maintain its history by blending her tradition and modernity, which saw the transformation of the emirate into a vibrant city. Despite her development and sophistication, Sharjah preserves her heritage and uphold her historical values, which make her quite unique.

The first sign of human existence in the UAE was discovered on Alfaya Mountain in Sharjah, and the discovered archeological items date back to around 85000 BC. Interestingly, before 7000 years the region's desert climate had stabilized better and the amount of rainfall had increased, which transformed the region into fertile valleys and consequently encouraged the fishing and rearing nomad Bedouins to relocate there for rearing their animals.

Before the archeological excavations that started in 1950 in the UAE, the history of this region was not known. Some discoveries were made on different sites in Sharjah e.g. Maliha, Kalba, Tal Abrak, Dibba and Jabal Al Buhais. Some discoveries in the UAE date back to stone age or even before, and are displayed in Sharjah Museum.

Incidentally, the word Sharjah i.e. Shariqa means the sun and it dates back to 5000 years. The map which the Greek painter Patlimos drawn earlier in second half of the 19th century , indicated that one of the Arabian tribes had settled in the area later known as Sharjah today. And in 1490 the name of Sharjah was mentioned in the written records of the famous sailor Ahmed Majid, who sailed in the Arabian Gulf.

Sharjah used to be one of the richest cities in the region and had one of the important harbor on the Arabian Gulf since the beginning of commercial activities with the east till the beginning of the first half of the 19th century. Sharjah was famous in pearling, hunting and commerce. Also the first international airport in the region was built there in 1932 and the UAE was formally established in 1971.

And ever since the exploration of petrol in 1972, Sharjah has transformed from a city of mud buildings and palm tree roof tops into a modern and developed city extending along the Arabian Gulf coast in the west towards the eastern coats of the United Arab Emirates.
Ajman Fort is considered one of the important archaeological monuments in the emirates. It reflects the process of human development over the years in the area, which also gives the picture of life over different periods of time. Equally, the fort was the emirate's leadership headquarter and its first defense line.

This magnificent historical monument represents a record for the ancestors' heritage. That was why the decision by his highness Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, member of the UAE supreme council and ruler of Ajman to dedicate the fort to the whole UAE citizens and transform it into an all-inclusive museum containing some ancient archaeological personal effects, crafts, traditional professions and some pictures of old norm of social life, was of great significance.

The historical dimension that the museum represents, is of great importance not only for being a magnificent legacy inspiring sense of pride for the UAE citizens, but for also being an intellectual basis for the general development presently enjoyed by the country.

Though up now it is not clear when the forts was built, however it is believed that it was probably built towards the end of the 18th century. It was built with some local building materials e.g. the coral stones used for marine works and gyps, and the roof top was made of the branches of some trees brought from east Africa called Jandal.

Just like the other northern emirates forts in the, was attacked towards the end of 1819 by the war ships during their war with Alqawasim dynasty, when they destroyed it, but it was rebuilt by Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Alawwal between 1803 -1838. The fort had also been renovated and expanded several times over the 19th and 20th centuries and remained the main residence of ruling dynasty until 1970, when late Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Alnuaimi (1928-1981) relocated to Alzahir Palace, and the palace was transformed into the headquarter of Ajman Police for the period between 1970-1981.

Towards the end of 80s of the 20th century, the ruler of Ajman his highness Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Alnuaimi, member of the UAE supreme council and ruler of Ajman ordered for its renovation to pave the way for transforming it into a museum for the UAE heritage. The last renovation work took three years and was supervised by a group of experts.

Fujairah fort is the only archeological monument with defensive architecture on the coastal valley extending from the water drainage of Wadi Ham. The fort is located on north eastern old Fujairah village on small rocky hill of 20 meters over sea level. The village extends in its northern half from the coastal valley behind some palm tree gardens approximately 2 kilometers away from the sea. It is the biggest and the most important fort in the area, and it is totally different in its architectural designs from the other forts in the country. Because the structures that made it up are it three round shape towers and another square tower and a tall building that looks like a tower, all of which are connected with a wall between the towers, making a central hall in the middle.

This seemingly disorganized design has its own peculiarities ranging from the disorganized arrangements of the rocks on which the fort was built. The fort was between 1500-1550, and rebuilt between 1650-1700.

Buthna Fort 

Its first floor is made up of the main entrance and two round shape towers, are made up of three stories, roof top, sprawling space and staircases leading to the first floor. The first floor comprised a yard, a room with a window overlooking outside, staircases and corridors along the walls. The towers have verandas with holes for the purpose of monitoring and gun keeping. The local community estimates that the fort was built in 1735.

Awhala Fort

The fort was built in the 8th century BC, and its diameter is 100 x 50 while the wall thickness is around 2.4 meter. The forts has a huge entrance, control point and monitoring tower, and it is the largest fort discovered in south east region of the Arabian Peninsular in the Iron Age.
The architectural design of the fort gives the impression that it was modeled after the Ashurite city wall designs (Nenawa, Numrood and Aswar) in northern Iraq. And this may confirm the ancient relationship between the region and the ancient Iraqi civilization, which was indicated by some written texts in Nenawa.

The fort is made up of an entrance and the tower, and the width of entrance is 1.5 meter and the height is 2.5 meter. It is connected from inside with a rectangular room, the diameter of which is 8x3.5 intended specifically to serve as a point to wait for the visitors.

The roof was made with the branches of palm trees, and it leads to the fort yard. There are also staircases inside leading to the roof top that also leads to the tower. The tower is a huge round shape structure, its diameter from inside is 9 meter approximately, and its height is around 11 meter.

Bid'ya Mosque

Along the coastal road between Dibba and Khorfakhan cities, both of which overlook the Arabian Sea, the mosque is located near a small stone hill. It has a unique architectural design that makes it the oldest leaning mosque in the UAE and prayers are still held there.
It got its name as Bid'ya for falling in Bid'ya region, which is a big village under Fujairah. The mosque is also a tourist attraction hub for its unique design, where tourist groups from all over the world troop to see it throughout the week.

Ras Alkhaima
Ras Alkhaima is unique for her many castles, forts and towers of different designs, all of which also indicate the historical stages through which the emirate had passed. They also reflect the emirate's development in all socio-economic aspects.

Since ancient times Ras Alkhaima had been a popular destination for living due to its four climatic and environmental diversities i.e. fertile village valleys, coastal area, mountainous area and desert environment. The entire archeological items discovered in the area prove that, the history of the emirate dates back to 5000 years BC. Some archeological items e.g. potteries, items made from flint stone and remnant of graves, graves built with local stones on high mountains that date back to Hafeet era (3200 BC) in Khat region and Wadil Beij, were discovered near Alhamra'a island.

Discovered also were some bronze items, arrowheads dagger covers that date back to the Umm Nar civilization (2600 BC). All these archeological items, which are displayed in Ras Alkhaima National Museum indicate the ancient history of human existence in the mountain, valleys and the coastal areas of this emirate then.

Umm Al Quwain Museum
The Al Quwain ancient fort history dates back to 1768, and it was transformed into Umm Al Quwain Museum in 2000. Umm Al Quwain Museum is made up of two sections; heritage, that contains Bab Sabah entrance that was the ruler' living room, his dining room, his personal effects, weapons room, traditional crafts room and some portrays of marine environment.

The other section is; archaeology, which contains a collection of archaeological items that date back to the first and second millennium BC and the advent of Islam, and they are basically some tractors and potteries made of the ceremiche, and other collection of golden, silver and bronze jewelries and currencies used during that period and bronze vessels. There are also two statues of two headless falcons, which are considered some of the most unique archaeological items that can be found only in Umm al Quwain Museum. And they had been discovered in Dour area and Tul Abraq archeological sites in Umm Al Quwain.

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