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Known for towering skyscrapers and luxury shopping, Dubai is a modern, cultural city that attracts millions of visitors each year. Although you could spend an entire vacation simply exploring its cosmopolitan atmosphere, Dubai is also home to plenty of entertaining museums that dive deep into the city’s rich history and culture.
Located on the Persian Sea, Dubai’s Islamic history is present throughout its culture, cuisine, and music. However, Dubai is one of the most global cities in the Middle East, which means it’s not immune to international growth and influence. The museums in Dubai beautifully blend both western and Arab cultures together. Also, if you are staying in Dubai, you should check out our post about where to stay in Dubai.
Whether you’re interested in art, history, or archaeology, you’re sure to find something to entertain you during your trip to Dubai!
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If you’re interested in learning more about the UAE’s history, look no further than the Etihad Museum. This modern museum is a new addition to Dubai, opening its doors in 2016. With an astounding eight different pavilions, you can explore the multiple galleries, documentaries, and interactive exhibits that are completely devoted to the political, cultural, and military history of the country.
And to make it more special, the museum was built on the exact spot where the country was founded back in 1971!
After visiting the Etihad Museum, take a ride to the top of Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world! Tickets to both attractions are included here.
Editor’s note – Check out our guide to 40 little known facts about Burj Khalifa!
You can’t plan a trip to Dubai without visiting the iconic Dubai Museum! Not only is it built inside the impressive Al Fahidi Fort, but the Dubai Museum is considered the oldest building in the entire country.
View life-size dioramas and recreated villages that show was the city of Dubai was like before the impact of oil. There is also an artifact gallery that has thousands of items and antiques dating all the way back to 3,000 BC!
Combine a tour of the Dubai Museum with a city exploration of Old Dubai with a guided tour!
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Caffeine addicts and coffee lovers cannot miss the chance to check out Dubai’s infamous Coffee Museum. Here, you can learn all about the local and international production of coffee beans. You’ll also find dozens of antique brewing and roasting machines, and have the opportunity to learn about different roasting styles such as Arabic, Japanese, and Ethiopian.
Of course, no visit to the Coffee Museum would be complete without a chance to taste the regional coffee beans in their on-site cafe!
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Built in 1896, the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House is a historic landmark where visitors can educate themselves about Dubai’s royal family. The museum was once the residence of the Al Maktoum family, who ruled until the mid-1950s.
It was soon converted into a museum filled with photographs and artifacts from the family. You can also see the family treasures, from lavish jewelry and gemstones to commemorative coins and stamps.
Visit the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House on your hop-on-hop-off tour of Dubai!
Experience Dubai’s traditional and rural life at the Hatta Heritage Village! This living history museum is a reconstruction of a small but charming mountain town. With over 30 buildings, you can walk through and see what Dubai was like before the 1960s.
You’ll see castles, forts, and mosques all with the traditional interior furnishing that would have been used during this time period. The houses are also constructed using original materials such as mud, stones, and tree trunks!
Prepare for your trip! We think knowing the history of Dubai is as important as packing the right dinner shirt!
Trick your brain at one of Dubai’s most unique museums, the Museum of Illusions! The museum has over 80 different exhibits that will leave you convinced that magic is truly real.
Entertaining kids of all ages, the Museum of Illusions has optical illusions, interactive brain teasers, and even a gravity-defying room that you absolutely must visit in order to understand. Check out the online schedule to see when the on-site magician will be wandering the halls playing even more tricks on your mind!
If you truly want to understand the role of women in Dubai’s culture, head to the Women’s Museum. Not only will you learn about Arabic women from all over the world, but you’ll also see some of the most prominent female figures from the UAE.
There’s also an interactive exhibit on Arabic female artists, with galleries, paintings, and photographs donated throughout the years. Don’t miss the Women’s Studies Center, a research facility designed to educate the population about UAE women’s studies.
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Dubai’s XVA Gallery is a contemporary art museum dedicated to Middle Eastern Art. Hidden inside the XVA Hotel and Cafe, the gallery has rotating exhibits that showcase top established and emerging regional artists.
This thought-provoking museum opened in 2003 and continues to draw in art fans from all over the world, who come to admire paintings, sculptures, and photographs in a beautiful and tasteful setting. Stop by the cafe for a tasty treat and hot cup of coffee after viewing the artwork.
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Located in the historic city of Sharjah, the Sharjah Art Museum is a sprawling 111,000 square meters of contemporary art. It’s the most famous exhibit is the private collection of Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, which is the museums only permanent installation.
The collection contains a wide variety of oil and watercolor painting, from Middle Eastern artists such as Ali Darwish, Abdul Qader Al Raes, and J.C. Fraser. Other rooms also have dozens of limited edition lithographs that were donated by the Sultan.
If you can’t get enough of Dubai’s art, take the Art, Jewel, and Chocolate tour!
Editor’s Recommendation – You should definitely check out our guide about the AMAZING tours in Dubai, UAE!
Families will love spending a thrilling day at Dubai’s interactive children’s museum, OliOli! There are over 8 galleries and 40 different exhibits that will spark the imagination and creativity in your kids.
Not only will children learn about science, technology, and the natural world, but they’ll also have fun while doing so! Don’t miss the colorful, bouncy trampoline playground called Toshi’s Nets, one of OliOli’s most exciting and interactive adventures.
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There’s nothing quite like the classic beauty of vintage cars. At the Sharjah Classic Cars Museum, you can over 100 different restored cars from all over the world, including Rolls Royce, Ford, and Mercedes.
There are even classic motorcycles and scooters. Separated into five rooms, each collection showcases a different historical time point in automotive history. Don’t miss the 1915 Dodge, the oldest car in the entire museum!
With over 5,000 artifacts, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is a vast collection covering Islamic culture. You’ll find plenty of pieces of Islamic art from all over the world, such as paintings, carvings, ceramics, and metalworks.
Besides art, there are also exhibits dedicated to Islamic history, faith, and even science and technology. The building that houses the museum was originally built as an indoor marketplace, is almost as grand as the museum itself.
Although it’s located in a modern building, the Dubai Maritime Museum dives deep into the rich history of Dubai’s maritime heritage. You may not think of Dubai as being fishing port, but after a visit to the museum, you’ll be well-educated no the importance that maritime trade had on the country.
There’s even an exhibit about the future of marine technology, and possible advancements that will be made. Don’t miss the traditional wooden boats and antique Arabian pearls that were found beneath the ocean shores!
Opening in 1993, the Sharjah Archaeology Museum gives visitors the opportunity to explore thousands of years into the past! Large excavations of Sharjah were made in the mid-1970s, and the museum showcases many artifacts and treasures that were found in the area. Jewelry, pottery, and paintings shed a light into how different civilizations existed starting from the Stone Age.
There’s even a place where you can learn about the first forms of writing from over 2,500 years ago! If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t be afraid to check out the on-site tombs and cemeteries!
Located in the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood, the Coin Museum Bur Dubai takes you back to different era’s throughout Dubai’s history. There are almost 500 individual coins to see, from Arab-Sasanian Dirhams to Abbasid Caliphate Dinars and Dirhams.
Each coin has an interactive magnifying screen, where you can learn more about its size, shape, and history. If you still have questions, then ask the free tour guides for more information! Also – if you’ll be in this area, you HAVE to check out our article about some of the best day trips from Dubai.
How many museums are in Dubai?
Dubai has several dozen museums that are located within the city center. With such a rich and diverse history, it’s easy to see why Dubai is home to everything from art galleries to archeology museums.
How many free museums are in Dubai?
In a country known for expensive taste, it’s refreshing to know that a majority of Dubai’s museums are free to visit. While some larger museums charge a hefty entry fee, it’s easy to find independent museums that free entry every day of the week. Some museums also allow free entry for children under a certain age.
What are the hours of the museums in Dubai?
In Dubai, most museums are open daily from 9 am until 7 or 8 pm. Most museums are not open on Sundays. Of course, there are some exceptions and you might find a museum that is open 7 days of the week. Check the website for the museum you wish to visit for exact opening and closing times.
What can I bring in Dubai Museums?
Some art museums in Dubai may prohibit the use of photography, even without the flash. Some museums also ban large suitcases and backpacks and require you to check them or leave them at home before entering. Although it’s more common to see people covering their shoulders and knees, it’s not a strict rule for entering a museum.
Although Dubai is brimming with neon lights and overflowing with luxury goods, it’s a good idea to take a step back to enjoy its history and heritage. Escape the dreaded Dubai heat and learn more about the city’s past and impact on the future,
Thankfully, Dubai has a museum for every type of traveler. From the creative, modern art galleries to the historic, archeology villages, you’ll have no problem finding a museum to keep you and your family entertained. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that there’s much more to the city than just extravagant and lavish living!
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!