The Best Historical Sights in the UAE

Jazirat Al Hamra
Jazirat Al Hamra | © Kemal Kestelli/Flickr
Thais Kelly

Although the UAE was only founded in 1971 and is better known for its skyscrapers, there’s still a lot of history in this small Middle Eastern country. All history enthusiasts should take a trip to the UAE and its historical sites to better understand Emirati culture and what life was like before the tallest building in the world and luxury cars appeared.

1. Al Fahidi Fort


Now housing the Dubai Museum, the Al Fahidi Fort was built in 1787 near the Dubai Creek. Originally the residence of the monarch as well as a defensive fort, the structure has had many other uses throughout the years, from an arsenal for weapons to a prison. Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular museums. Visitors can walk through an immersive experience displaying the history of Dubai, including Bedouin culture and information on what makes Dubai what it is today.

Dubai Museum, Al Fahidi Fort, Al Fahidi Street, Ali Bin Abi Thalib Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, +971 4 353 1862

Dubai Museum | © Stephen Colebourne/Flickr

Jazirat Al Hamra

For those who love history and adrenaline, Jazirat Al Hamra is a must-see destination. This village is better known as Ghost Town, as urban legend says the area was haunted by jinns, or ghosts from Islamic Folklore. It is believed that the village dates back to the 14th century. Today, tourists visiting Ras Al Khaimah can walk through Ghost Town and visit the historic site, which is basically in ruins. Although ghost sightings are not guaranteed, old residences, mosques and more are.

Al Jazirat Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah

2. Hatta Heritage Village

2. Hatta Heritage Village
© ~Pyb/Flickr

This small village is 2,000-3,000 years old, and is the ideal place for those looking to explore what life was like on the outskirts of Dubai. The Hatta Heritage Village was renovated and opened to the public in 2001, and allows visitors to see its original buildings, two castles and fort. For those wanting to better understand what life was like over two millennia ago, the village is stocked with original weapons as well as models and prototypes of life in ancient Hatta.

Hatta Heritage Village, Hatta, +9714 852 1374

Hatta Heritage Village | © ~Pyb/Flickr

Al Badiyah Mosque

Al Badiyah Mosque is the oldest still-standing mosque in the UAE, located in the Emirate of Fujairah. It is believed to date back to the 15th century, and it’s very different from modern mosques in the UAE. It’s small and simple and nothing like the marble and jewel-adorned Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Al Badiyah Mosque is rustic and gives a sense of what life was like in the UAE before the country boomed.

Al Badiyah Mosque, Al Badiyah, Fujairah, +971 9 234 3363

3. Al Bastakiya

3. Al Bastakiya
© Guilhem Vellut/Flickr

Now the home of museums and galleries, the Al Bastakiya neighborhood is a crucial site in the history of the UAE. This quarter is the oldest standing residential area in Dubai, dating from the 19th century. The buildings here are made of coral, mud, gypsum and palm wood — common building materials at the time — and contain wind towers, which were used to help residents handle the high temperatures.

Al Bastakiya, Al Hamriya, Bur Dubai, +971 4 515 5000

Al Bastakiya | © Guilhem Vellut/Flickr

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