By Andy Sambidge
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed approves plans to breathe new life into oldest part of the city around Dubai Creek
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on Tuesday approved plans to develop Dubai's Historical District, a renovation of the oldest part of the city centred around Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai).
The joint initiative, led by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Municipality and Dubai Culture, will transform the area into the leading culture and heritage centre in the region, according to a statement.
Work is expected to start as early as this month with completion slated for 2018.
Focused around four key districts - Shindagha, Bur Dubai, Al Faheidi and Deira - the project is focused on raisin awareness of Dubai's rich history - particularly around trade, crafts and pearling.
Covering 1.5 square kilometres, the phased development will be based on five pillars including tradition, heritage, trade, community and place making.
More than 60 projects are planned as part of the overall redevelopment including Al Shindagha Museum which will feature 17 pavilions and have over 50 collections of historical and cultural artefacts on show.
The area will also feature Al Faheidi fort, and AlSabkhah as part of the largest open air historic district built around Dubai Creek.
The project also includes the conversion of a number of streets in Bur Dubai, Al Faheidi and Deira to pedestrian walkways enabling easier access to upgraded public areas including Alsabkhah Square.
All pedestrian areas will be lined with historical stories that can be accessed through smart applications or through a newly created team of trained Emirati tour guides.
The project aims to attract 12 million by 2020.
Abdul Rahman Al Owais, the UAE's Health Minister and chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: "Khor Dubai and the Historical District are the soul of the city, and define our cultural legacy and our Emirati heritage. Apart from having contributed to the evolution of the city as a global hub for business by promoting trade and commerce, our community today celebrates the cultural identity of Dubai and serves as one of the most inspiring art centres."
Hussein Lootah, director general, Dubai Municipality said: "The vision set by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to sustain and grow our cultural heritage has set the foundation for our joint effort with DTCM and DCAA to create a strong and flagship development.
"We will endeavour to work closely with DTCM in creating a world class culture, art and heritage destination. We are well prepared to commence the development of the Historical District as early as this month.
"Although the overall delivery will take three years, we are sure that the changes will be felt by visitors very soon. We are sure that this development will enhance our ability to register Khor Dubai as a UNESCO World Heritage Site."
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, DTCM added: "Work is due to start shortly on the first phase of the project, which will include the upgrade of souqs in Deira and Bur Dubai, the installation of abra stops at Shindagha and the creation of a number of other experiences within each area. Visitors will be able to fully immerse themselves in the history and explore the authentic culture of Dubai and the trading hub of Khor Dubai in particular."
* As well as housing one of the largest interactive museums in the region Shindagha will feature floating exhibits housed in traditional pearling and trade boats. An outdoor 'majlis' and multi-purpose performance centre and square will showcase Emirati sea-faring song and dance.
* Deira's old watch towers and traditional stores such as red-smiths and cotton makers will be restored in their original locations to revive the authentic feel of the area.
* A historic square will be constructed for visitors to discover Dubai's history through a series of installations and exhibits from Alsabkhah all the way to Alras.
* Bur Dubai's Al Faheidi Fort will be restored as the central heart of the area by way of expanding it as a major cultural events square and the reconstruction of Dubai's old defense wall will also be revived.
* Al Faheidi district will enjoy a more focused approach showcasing local art and Emirati artists; art galleries will be promoted through a formal art tour created to link the area's main attractions. Recreations of old trading and craft methods will also be on display.
* Khor Dubai will see an addition of multiple abra connections on both sides. In addition, daily light and sound productions will be projected on the old and new buildings on both sides of Khor Dubai.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.