Dubai’s answer to Buckingham Palace – albeit a bit more modest in scale – this fine old traditional house on the edge of the Creek was formerly home to several of the city’s ruling sheikhs.
The house was first built in 1896 (making it one of the oldest buildings in Dubai) by Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum, and subsequently expanded by three of his successors, including Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum, after whom it’s now named. Dubai’s current supreme ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, himself grew up here, sharing living space with father and uncles extended families, plus assorted bodyguards, slaves, goats and the occasional camel – humble lodgings for someone who would subsequently become one of the world’s richest men.
The building itself is one of the most attractive traditional houses in the city, topped with a quartet of wind towers and arranged around the customary sandy courtyard. It now houses a range of exhibits relating to Dubai’s history, including old coins, banknotes, state documents and model boats, plus a superb collection of historic photographs of the city from the 1940s to 1960s, demonstrating Dubai’s jaw-dropping transformation from desert outpost to contemporary city state.