A report from M. Houghton of the Royal Navy in 1822, described Dubai as a collection of mud huts "surrounded by a low mud wall in which are several breaches, & defended by 3 round towers, and a square castellated building, with a tower at one angle …and having only 3 or 4 guns mounted ...The Western tower, which stands on a small cliff over the creek, has also 3 or 4 guns, and is in moderate repair."1
Dubai's oldest building, Al Fahidi fort, was built in 1799, and is probably the "square, castellated building" of which Houghton wrote. It was used as the residence of the ruler as well as a shelter for people in case of attack. It now houses the Dubai Museum.
The traditional vernacular style of architecture in Dubai is the result of a mixture of three dominant factors: the climate (hot and humid), the religion and customs of its people, and the locally available building materials.
The museum was opened by the ruler of Dubai in 1971, with the aim of presenting the traditional way of life in the Emirate of Dubai. When entering, one can see the fort constructed and the various displays that go along with it. From the fort, there is a path to the galleries, which display the general culture of the land, especially in the 1800s. It includes local antiquities as well as artifacts from African and Asian countries that traded with Dubai. It also includes several dioramas showing life in the emirate before the advent of oil, in addition to artifacts from recent discoveries as old as 3000 BC.