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While the UAE is a conservative country, it would be wrong to assume that it is one that negates the rights of women. On the country, the UAE has worked hard to promote the opportunities and achievements of its female citizens. Women make up two-thirds of government employees and one-third of the country’s cabinet. In fact, Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, has said “We are not enabling women, we are enabling the whole society with women”.
One way of doing so is by honoring the achievements of women in the UAE, both in the past and present. That is why Dubai is home to its very own Women’s Museum , dedicated to exploring the lives of women in the UAE. In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Dubai Women’s Museum.
The Women’s Museum is a national archive and documentation center. It is dedicated to exploring the different facets of the lives of Emirati women – professional and personal, past and present. It includes artwork by various female Emirati artists, photographs showing the contributions of Emirati women. Examples of their Emirati jewelry and dresses and an exploration of how past and current rulers have affected the role of women in the UAE.
Dr. Rania Obaid Ghubash founded the Women’s Museum. An Emirati woman herself, Dr. Ghubash grew up on the shores of the Dubai Creek. Her mother taught her to value the history and culture of her home country, and this love permeates the museum. It is far from a clinical look at the past, but instead, a loving tribute to a precious lineage of strong Emirati women.
The Women’s Museum is located in Deira, by the Gold Souq (close to where Dubai by Foot offers its Old Dubai Tour). The house itself called Bait al Banat, which translates to The Girls House. It was built in the 1950s and was originally a residential home. Here three unmarried Emirati sisters lived – so even the building itself is of historical interest.
The entrance to the Women’s Museum can be tricky to find. When you are walking through the souq, turn left at 45th street. Once you reach the road, turn right and take the third street on the left. On your right, you should see a small sign directing you to the museum. If you’re having difficulty with the directions, don’t hesitate to ask one of the locals and they would be happy to guide you.
The Women’s Museum is open from Saturday to Thursday, from 10am to 7pm.
A ticket to the Women’s Museum costs 20 dirhams.
A tour of the Women’s Museum will take approximately 60 – 90 minutes. There are a lot of interesting artifacts on display, but the space itself is not very large so there is not a lot of walking from one exhibit to the next.
Yes, the Women’s Museum is home to the Um Al Duwais Perfume and Gift Shop. Perfume is a very popular amongst women in the Arab World. For one, it is a great way to mask sweat in a country that historically did not have a lot of access to water. For another, perfume was a way for women to ‘decorate’ themselves without having to wear immodest clothes. The Um Al Duwais Perfume and Gift Shop allows visitors to purchase high-quality, traditional Arabian fragrances and oils, making it a souvenir you can savor.
Furthermore, the museum also has its own café. The Banat Bu Ghanem Café is actually a public space, linking the museum to the surrounding Deira community. In addition to traditional eats and rich Arabian coffee, visitors can also purchase artisanal crafts, artwork and jewelry.
The Women’s Museum is within walking distance of the Dubai Museum, so it is only natural to wonder whether it makes sense to do both. There are several key differences between the two museums. The Dubai Museum is larger, less expensive, more crowded and covers a broader array of topics. The Women’s Museum is more of a hidden gem, with a specialized focus of women. Unlike the Dubai Museum, the Women’s Museum showcases artwork in addition to artifacts. Furthermore, the Women’s Museum has more of an emphasis on the UAE’s political history. The museum you choose to visit will depend on your personal interests and what you are hoping to get out of your visit.
The UAE works to respect and honor its female citizens. The Women’s Museum is just one way that it does so. It truly is a hidden gem of the city and one of our most frequent recommendations for visitors looking to head somewhere ‘off-the-beaten-track’. We hope you get a chance to visit and learn about the amazing contributions women have made to the UAE.