Dubai – Crossroad of Civilizations Museum

There are only a few notable archaeological museums in Dubai as this is a relatively new city. And one of them is the Crossroad of Civilizations Museum in the redeveloped Al Shindagha district.

  1. Origins of the Museum
  2. Crossroad of Civilizations Museum
    1. Local History Gallery
      1. Gasparo Balbi, Voyage to the Oriental Indies, 1590
    2. The Pearl Gallery
    3. Travellers and Explorers
    4. The Holocaust Gallery
    5. Palestine and The Holy Land Gallery
    6. Multi-Faith Gallery
      1. Coptic Textiles From 4 th -7 th Century
    7. The Islamic Gallery
      1. Sitarah commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman Empire, AD 1543/44
  3. Rare Books, Manuscripts and Prints Museum
    1. Manuscripts Gallery
      1. Lawrence of Arabia
    2. The Geography Gallery
      1. Description de l’Égypte. Paris, 1809-1822, first edition, 22 volumes, housed in a custom made cabinet
    3. The Royal Collection
  4. The Armoury Museum
    1. Swords & Daggers Gallery 
    2. Khanda Sword, 18th-19th century AD.
      1. Jowhar Swords, 16th to 17th Century AD
      2. Two Arabian Swords recorded with Ottoman gold coins, Damascus steel, Ottoman Empire, early 20th century AD
      3. Peshkabz, 18th Century AD, Central Asia
    3. Guns & Saddles Gallery
  5. Afterthoughts

Origins of the Museum

Inside a traditional home in Dubai’s Shindagha Heritage Village is an extraordinary collection of ancient artefacts. Crossroad of Civilizations Museum is a private museum founded by Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori and opened its doors on 27 Jan 2014.

He originally housed the collection in his home behind glass cabinets and it was where he once hosted a talk on the Arabian Gulf, documenting its history and geographic significance throughout the ages using original maps which he owned. The Director of Architectural Heritage Department at Dubai Municipality, who was present at that talk, discussed with him opening this important collection to public viewing.

The Museum is located at the tip of the Shindagha peninsula in the former residence of Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum originally overlooked three waterfronts – the Arabian Sea, the iconic Dubai Creek and a water causeway that connected the two at the time. Together, these waterways were instrumental in transforming Dubai into a hub for trade.

The residence of Sheikh Hasher is an excellent example of a surviving architectural masterpiece of the early 19th century. The museum has a homely setting and includes a courtyard. A stroll through it, viewing the hundreds of items and the stories they tell, is a relaxing experience.

The museum has since expanded to three museums all within close proximity with each other and all included in the ticket : (in order of visit)

  • Crossroad of Civilizations Museum – also the ticketing office, you start here;
  • Rare Books, Manuscripts and Prints Museum – some very rare first edition prints, manuscripts (including Beethoven’s music sheets), and maps;
  • The Armoury Museum – showcases rare weapons and firearms, daggers and knives, a showcase of weaponry before WMD exists.

Crossroad of Civilizations Museum

The Crossroad of Civilizations Museum (CCM) illustrates Dubai’s historic role as a trading link between East and West through its rich collections dating back to 5000 years of past civilisations, such as Roman, Phoenician, Pharaonic, Sumerian, Greek, Chinese, as well ancient Arab civilisations such as the Hamriya and the civilisation of Saba, that traded and exchanged gifts as they passed through the region.

What was also interesting during the visit in the museum was the collection of manual typewriters. Before the days of word processors and computers, these were the tools for recording and writing copious amount of literally works throughout ages.

The Local History Gallery is the first of the galleries at the CCM, and serves as an introduction to the history of the cultural and commercial exchanges which took place across the region. It is also like an amuse bouche that sets the tone to all the galleries and museums that include Rare Books Prints & Manuscripts Museum and The Armoury Museum (both are within a short walking distance from the CCM).

There are local manuscripts which have never previously been on public display. These manuscripts were part of the family inheritance of Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori, the founder of The Museum Group and provide an insight into the local life of the Emirati before the economic boom brought by discovery oil.

The gallery also displays examples of local and regional jewellery in gold and silver, some of which are family heirlooms of the founder. In addition, there are selected artefacts, manuscripts, traditional weapons and historical coins which reflect the styles and designs of different civilisations.

Several personal possessions of Ahmed O’s grandfather, Judge Mohammed bin Ali Al Mansoori, are also featured, including his passport issued in 1937, some inkwells and pens, and a wooden box in which writing tools and papers were kept while travelling. A collection of traditional gold and silver jewellery, part of the Mansoori family heirloom, is aesthetically arranged on a large fragment of an old oud tree.

Gasparo Balbi, Voyage to the Oriental Indies, 1590

The first edition of Voyage to the Oriental Indies (published 1590 AD, bottom middle of shelf) by the Venetian jeweller and merchant Gasparo Balbi. This was the earliest Western printed book mentioning Dubai, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain and islands in Abu Dhabi, in their local dialect. Not exactly Marco Polo, Balbi was not entirely accurate in his description of some sites that he saw, attributing some South Asian architecture like the Taj Mahal to Alexandra the Great and European visitors. But here was the first printed record mentioning Bani Yas tribe (the founding tribe of the Al Maktoum family) and Gasparo Balbi himself was a pearl merchant.

The history of pearl diving in the UAE is ancient, with archaeologists finding evidence of this tradition dating back more than 7,000 years ago.

In addition, archaeologists have discovered that pearl trading reached wide-spread popularity during Roman times and that in the 1100’s, the city of Ras Al Khaimah was a booming trade post because of the pearl industry. UAE’s pearls were in great demand across the world. They were traded all the way to India, Sri Lanka, Venice, and Scandinavia.

And the pearls were referred to the “mother of all jewellery” and were sought after by some of the fashion designers of the day; one of the biggest fashion house to use Arabian pearls was Cartier. Jacques Cartier seeked audience with Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum (Ruler of Dubai between 1912-1958) for permission to meet the pearl dealers in Dubai to look for the right material for his creations.

Besides the fashion houses, the royal families across Europe and dignitaries were wearers of Arabian pearls. Amongst them, the First Lady Zara Holt, wife of Australian Prime Minister Howard Holt. Interestingly, PM Holt disappeared along the coast of Victoria in an open water swim and his body was never recovered, making him the shortest sitting PM of Australia who passed away in office.

Besides specimens of different pearl jewelleries, there are some tools of the trade from yesteryears. On the walls were models of the dhows that brought traders to Dubai and beyond. And the measuring tools for the pearls collected, the GIA standard for pearls classified into their colours, size, weight, etc.

A map of pearl banks in Persian Gulf [‎13r] (1/2), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/1/616, f 13, in Qatar Digital Library

In 1939, His Highness Sheikh Mana Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, great-granduncle of the current Ruler of Dubai, created a map showing precise locations where the pearl habitats can be found in the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The map comprehensively extends from the beginning of the tip of the gulf from Hormuz straight to the borders of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, also covering the Northern and the Southern side of the Arabian Gulf. A copy of the map was gifted to CCM in 2018.

Original print plate of pearl habitat map, 1959, Dubai, Map Maker : Sheikh Mana Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

On January 13th, 2022 the grandson of Sheikh Mana, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum gifted the original printing press plate to the museum. The map was the first to be designed by Sheikh Mana, who was a Royal cartographer and a prominent intellectual during his time. His map was and still is popular in the Pearl industry within the Gulf region, for its added value as a navigation guide for pearls within the Arabian Gulf

Explorers and travellers, regardless of their missions and resources, have played an essential role in enhancing understanding between civilisations.

Until relatively recently, the writings, maps and drawings of explorers and travellers, as well as “interesting” spies, were the main source of information about Arabia, including the Trucial States (which seven of them formed UAE) and the rest of the Middle East.

The focus of independent travelers, and academics, is quite different from media organizations, which take a short term view, explaining current events; the traveler and the academic can afford to take a long-term view, considering the history of the region and the underlying culture of Arabia.

The objects on display in the Travelers and Explorers Gallery include: Gaius Plinius Secundus, The History of the World, translated by Philemon Holland (1601); Carsten Niebuhr (1733 – 1815), Beschryving van Arabie (Descriptions from Arabia) (1774) by the German mathematician, cartographer and explorer in the service of Denmark, is renowned for his participation in the Royal Danish Arabia Expedition (1761-1767); an unpublished manuscript of 17th century atlas of Portuguese colonies, depicting the different Portuguese ports in India and the Arabian Gulf.

This is the only Holocaust exhibit in the Arabic world, demonstrating the openess of the Dubai community with everyone in the world. Although most of the pieces are reproduction of photos and letters, what were really interesting was an art installation and the introduction to only Arabian inductee to the Avenue of the Righteous at the Yad Vashem, Selahattin Ülkümen.

The exhibition includes historical sections that showcase rare items such as the facsimile of a Mahzor, a Jewish prayer book, from the city of Worms, Germany. Its significance is linked to the spiritual leaders of the Jewish community in Worms, including Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, a medieval French rabbi who helped write comprehensive commentary on the Talmud and the Hebrew Bible. The original prayer book was saved from the Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, a pogrom against Jews, who were executed by Nazi forces in Germany in November 1938.

Another highlight of the exhibition is a tribute to Muslims who helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust, including the valour of Selahattin Ülkümen, Consul General of Turkey on the German-conquered Greek island of Rhodes. In 1944, there was a small community of about 1,700 Jews living on the island, some of them Turkish, who were at risk of being killed. He managed to save more than 42 Jews but paid a heavy price as a result. The Germans bombed his house, resulting in the death of his pregnant wife. When asked why he did what he did, he replied, “all I did was fulfill my duty to mankind.”

At the centre of the exhibition is a life-sized image of a young boy from one of the best-known photographs of the Holocaust, “Warsaw Ghetto boy.” His image is surrounded by real World War II-era weapons from the museum’s collection, aimed at generating discomfort to draw attention to the magnitude of the catastrophic event; 1.5 million kids died in the Holocaust during World War II, and behind every photo of the children was their story.

We continue to explore the region through the eyes of notable travellers and those who explored the region, through their journals, diaries and drawings.

The Palestine Gallery showcases a number of objects, including anti-clockwise from top left) historical maps of Palestine; a 1875 journal by a British officer, with drawings of different areas in Palestine, Palestine Exploration of 1927; 1946 Maps relating to the report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry regarding the problems of European Jewry and Palestine.

Besides maps and books, there are many interesting items that are scattered in this eclectic collection of Holy Land knick-knacks. Among those (clockwise from left) is a letter concerning the restitution of the Holy Places to the custody of the Franciscans from the Greek Orthodox Church penned by Fray Alonzo de Robles, the Commissar General of Jerusalem during the 17th century; a booklet of pressed flowers from the Holy Land, undated probably early 20th century; a mezuzah inscribed with verses of the Torah that was placed at the entrance of Shaul Feinstein’s home in Israel; a beautiful Dome of the Rock Al-Aqsa Mosque made from mother of pearl, most likely modern.

Ten Mils 1927, Coin from Palestine (British Mandate)

One interesting thing in this gallery is this Palestine 1927 10 mils coin minted during the British Mandate; this was one of the first coin to feature English, Hebrew and Arabic on the same coin. If you want to collect this coin (a freshly minted one), it would only cost you $6 because 5M was in circulation. It is interesting to think that with a little age, you would believe it’s a relic.

In addition to photographs and images from Palestine, there’s a collection of rock fragments (late 18th – 19th century) from the Holy Land, which according to the slip of paper inside the container box, were given as a gift by the priest R. Ulrich on 18 May 1899. Among the hallowed sites where these stones were collected were the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary was concealed at Bethlehem; the place where Christ stood when he announced the last judgement.

This gallery that reflects the true spirit of the United Arab Emirates (UAE); the spirit that reflects its culture and values including tolerance, acceptance and respect for self and others, and the understanding of the positive advantages that come from understanding cultural differences.

Exhibits in the Multi-Faith gallery include “Principe Work on the Theologian” (Duae Quaestionum Theologico-Philologicarum 1659), by Johann Heinrich Hottinger. Rare books written in Europe, including “The Life Saladin” by Bahā’ ad-Dīn Yusuf ibn Rafi ibn Shaddād, published by Schultens in 1732 in Leiden, 500-600 years old manuscripts with Christian prayers in the Amharic language, different versions of original Gospel leaves from the middle ages, number 14 out of 300 a facsimile of the 1454 Gothenburg Bible, a 1523 Order Of Mass And Communion For The Church At Wittenberg (Formula Missae) from Martin Luther Church, a 1639 printing of the King James Bible, a unique and rare Jewish Prayer copper cup from the region and different Quranic Leaves dated separately between 10th-13th centuries.

Coptic Textiles From 4 th -7 th Century

Coptic art is a term used either for the art of Egypt produced in the early Christian era or for the art produced by the Coptic Christians themselves.

Coptic art is best known for its wall-paintings, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, and metalwork, much of which survives in monasteries and churches. The artwork is often functional, as little distinction was drawn between artistry and craftsmanship, and includes tunics and tombstones as well as portraits of saints. The Coptic Museum in Coptic Cairo houses some of the world’s most important examples of Coptic art.

Here, the exhibits show how different civilizations across the world, expressed their understanding of Islam producing a variety of Quranic Manuscripts and innovative calligraphy, reflecting the art and calligraphy of their civilizations. These manuscripts include work from: Brunei, The Indian subcontinent, Hedjaz, Palestine, Persia, The Ottomans, and Europe.

In this Gallery, you will find: a copy of the first printed edition of the Quran in Arabic, “The Hamburg Quran” (1694), a manuscript document by “Alm Jeer” (1659-1707) written for his daughter Jahanareh, a 17th century book about “The History of Islam” from 571-1118, by Elmaeinus Georgius (1625), different translations of the meaning of the word “Quran”

The Islamic Gallery also reveals how different cultures across Europe, Persia, the Ottoman Empire, the Subcontinent, Palestine and Brunei have expressed their understanding of Islam through the creation of a variety of Quranic manuscripts and innovative calligraphy. Look out for a copy of The Hamburg Quran (1694 CE), the first printed edition of the Quran in Arabic; an Armenian Bible (989 CE) with a magnificent ivory cover; and a Quran with an inscribed dedication to his daughter by the sixth Mughal ruler, ‘Alamgir’, commonly known as Aurangzeb.

Not to be missed also is a 19th century round copper tray from Yemen with Arabic motifs and corresponding inscriptions that tell the story of Prophet Joseph.

Sitarah commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman Empire, AD 1543/44

At the Islamic Gallery, we marvel at one of the most prized Islamic artefacts in the world – the 471-year-old sitarah or the door cover of the Kaaba, designed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), the 10th and longest-reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

The Sitarah from the Ottoman Empire is one of the most important pieces in the Museum

One of the highlights of the museum and one of their most prized exhibits is a cover of the door of the Kaaba, also referred it as Sitarah, sent to Mecca by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and was dated to be handwoven during the year 1543/44.

Elaborately designed with magnificent colours of red and green against black and gold, it is adorned with pomegranate and plum blossoms, tulip decorations and Quranic verses in stylised calligraphy.

Measuring 2.3 x 4.8 metres in size, this rare sitarah is woven with the finest fabrics and embroidered with gold and silver thread. ‘It is extremely rare to come across an extraordinary work of a prominent monarch anywhere in the world. Providing the cover for the Kaaba is also seen as the highest honour bestowed on any Muslim head of state.’

Rare Books, Manuscripts and Prints Museum

Rare Books & Prints gallery is comprised of three rooms, and the Rare Manuscripts gallery comprises of two rooms including the Geography gallery.

This museum contains a group of valuable old books, prints, autographs and rare manuscripts which document the most important events in the world. Beside Quranic manuscripts, manuscripts and old prints from different dynasties are on exhibit. In addition, you will see manuscripts and old prints from the early fields of science from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Some of the highlights of the collection:

Original photograph (L) of Abd al-Qadir, the Algerian freedom fighter (1807-1883), a picture of him with the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte in the opera house (middle), and diplomatic letters written by him that contain Arabic proverbs (R); Domingo Badia y Leblich (1807) or Ali Bey (a pseudonym in order to enter places forbidden to non-Muslims), the Spanish explorer and spy of the early 19th century.

The first edition of Ali Bey’s Atlas of his travels through Arabia. This version of his account belonged to the King of France; Boha-Eddin (Yusuf ibn Rafi’Ibn Shaddad al-Mausili) / Albert Schultens. Sirat al-Sultan al-Malek al-Nasr Salah al-Din 1st edition; 4th century Hebrew manuscript from the Torah, which is the oldest manuscript in the museum. Italian Cryptology, “29 encrypted diplomatic letters from the years 1710 – 1745 AD”; Bibliographically unrecorded series of vintage photographs of European birds of prey conceived by the Viennese zoologist and taxidermist Eduard Hodek (1874); The principal work of the theologian Johann Heinrich Hottinger (1659) presenting the entire body of knowledge about Islamic history and religion available at the time; manuscripts on medicine and pharmacology that contain colourful illustrations.

For example, Ibn Jazla’s, who was the “Imam of Medicine” in his time, manuscript (Taqwim al-Abdan fi Tadbir al-Insan) dating back to the fifteenth century; a manuscript on physics dating back to 1592 AD; manuscripts on the life of the Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) 1290 AD; Chapters from the Qur’an by a calligrapher from Brunei 1712 AD; a rare facsimile of the first book printed in the world by Johannes Gutenberg in 1454 AD; Local manuscripts, documents and poems from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, considered as important references for the social, economic and cultural life, especially of different parts in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf countries; and  The World of Islamic Civilization (1884 AD) by Gustave Le Bon, the father of social psychology.

Valuable old books, prints, autographs and rare manuscripts that document some of the most important global events are housed in the Manuscripts section. A 4th century Hebrew manuscript from the Torah is the oldest piece here.

Lawrence of Arabia

The Museum also hosts the privately printed 1926 edition of Lawrence of Arabia’s classic Seven Pillars of Wisdom detailing the story of the Arab revolt against the Turks in the First World War. In the preface, Lawrence acknowledged George Bernard Shaw’s help in editing the book. The first edition was published in 1926 as a high-priced private subscription edition, printed in London by Herbert John Hodgson and Roy Manning Pike, with illustrations by Eric Kennington, Augustus John, Paul Nash, Blair Hughes-Stanton, and Hughes-Stanton’s wife Gertrude Hermes.

In 1910, Lawrence was offered the opportunity to become a practising archaeologist at Carchemish, learnt Arabic and gained experience in Middle Eastern leadership practices and conflict resolution. In January 1914, Lawrence were co-opted by the British military as an archaeological smokescreen for a British military survey of the Negev Desert. They were funded by the Palestine Exploration Fund to search for an area referred to in the Bible as the Wilderness of Zin. The Negev was strategically important, as an Ottoman army attacking Egypt would have to cross it. A report of the expedition’s archaeological findings was published together with special attention to features of military relevance such as water sources.

The Arab Revolt began in June 1916, but it bogged down after a few successes, with a real risk that the Ottoman forces would advance along the coast of the Red Sea and recapture Mecca. On 16 October 1916, Lawrence was sent to the Hejaz on an intelligence-gathering mission led by Ronald Storrs. He interviewed Sharif Hussein’s sons Ali, Abdullah and Faisal, and he concluded that Faisal was the best candidate to lead the Revolt. It is not known when Lawrence learned the details of the Sykes–Picot Agreement (which conceded Syria to France), nor if or when he briefed Faisal on what he knew, however, there is good reason to think that both these things happened, and earlier rather than later.

During the closing years of the war, Lawrence sought to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests, but he met with mixed success. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain contradicted the promises of independence that he had made to the Arabs and frustrated his work. Lawrence felt that he was betrayed by his British superiors, and left the service bitter. For that he chose not to profit from the publications of Seven Pillars. T.E. Lawrence died in a traffic accident in Dorset on 19 May 1935, penniless.

The geography gallery is room 3 of the Rare Books & Prints Museum and includes old prints, maps and manuscripts, and includes geographical manuscripts of Ibn alBakawi, Omar Al Wardi and others.

Description de l’Égypte. Paris, 1809-1822, first edition, 22 volumes, housed in a custom made cabinet

The piece de resistance of this exhibit is the original comprehensive edition of the “Description de l’Égypte” (Description of Egypt) which is considered to be best detailed masterpiece about Egypt. It was published in 22 volumes and was the collaborative work of about 160 civilian scholars and scientists, known popularly as the savants, who accompanied Bonaparte’s expedition to Egypt in 1798 to 1801 by the order of Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) and kept in a specially-made contemporary cabinet.

Besides the monumental work about Egypt, there were some important correspondences between Napoleon and his generals that were displayed, as well as well as love letters to his muse and Queen, Josephine.

Montfort - Adieux de Napoleon a la Garde imperiale
Antoine Alphonse Montfort: “Adieux de Napoléon à la Garde impériale dans la cour du Cheval-Blanc du château de Fontainebleau”, 19th century, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Napoleon abdicated on 20 Apr 2014, about a month after the letter about reinforcements was written.

The Royal Collection

Most of the artefacts, manuscripts, battle maps and old prints housed in the Royal Gallery have come from rulers across the Arabian region, kings and political figures from Portugal, the UK, Poland, Egypt, the Ottoman Empire and other diplomats or government officials.

Covering the period from mid-16th century to early 20th century, the Royal gallery highlights of “royal connections” displaying beautiful artifacts, manuscripts and old prints which illustrate the contribution of those individuals who have influenced historical events in the Middle East. These individuals include members of Royal families and/or Leaders from Arabian Peninsula, Asia and Europe. For instance, the artifacts, manuscripts and old prints in the Royal Gallery have come from: Arabian Sheikhs, Kings and other political figures from Portugal, the United Kingdom, as well as military commanders, generals and officers from the United Kingdom, Poland, Egypt, the Ottoman Empire and other diplomats and government officials.

The royal collection includes: royal passports and Sultans’ Orders, approved bilateral agreements by Parliaments and Rulers, examples of Royal Gifts between Kings from Europe to Arabia; “How to Rule a Kingdom”(1869 print, from (218H) 833 AD) emphasizing the importance of human & social behavior, and psychology, Italian Cryptology: “Secret Diplomatic Correspondences” (1710-1745), different historical sources of the genealogy of Arab and Islamic Kings, Sultans and Caliphs; royal autographs, royal manuscripts, letters and sayings; royal decrees, military commanders orders’, diplomatic agreements and contracts, unpublished officers’ journals, and royal artifacts and Images.

There are other important royal documents and manuscripts in other galleries, including: Local gallery, Explorers and Travelers gallery, the Islamic gallery; as well as in galleries of Rare Books Manuscripts & Prints Museum which is a located within a short walking distance, behind the main museum building. If you need help with locations of a gallery, please ask a staff member, or check our gallery floor plan guide.

The Armoury Museum

This museum reflects other ways of cultural communication and documents the time of colonization, instability, wars and changes of foreign powers in the region. It also exhibits ceremonial and equestrian sports weapons. While conflicts lead to wars and aggressions, military campaigns carried a positive side in spreading the cultures of others and their civilizations.

The gallery extends over two rooms. Beside swords and daggers made in the UAE, this gallery includes swords and daggers that are brought from Africa, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Asia. Some of the blades are made of gold, jeweled with precious stones and with handles of different designs. The gallery also has on exhibit, helmets and shields of historical value.

Khanda Sword, 18th-19th century AD.

A South Asian double-edge straight sword, The blade made of fine Indian wootz steel inlaid with gold and broadens from the hilt to the point. The hilt has a large plate guard with a spike projecting from its centre, It is a common weapon in the martial arts of the Rajput, Sikhs, and others.

Jowhar Swords, 16th to 17th Century AD

The Jowhar Sword was characterised with many unique features. It was made of a mixture of metal, (components of which is still a mystery till now In addition to coal. During the production, the mixture was exposed to very high temperatures which gave the sword lightness and flexibility.

The Jowhar swords became united with name of one of the most famous craftsman in that period; “Asadullah the Damascene”. Asadullah the Damascene was putting his name on the swords as “work of Asadullah” or he was sealing the swords with a stamp in the form of a lion looking back.

Upon his death, his descendants and apprentices continued to seal his name on the swords and sealed his secret of production in their craftsmanship fo the following two centuries.

Two Arabian Swords recorded with Ottoman gold coins, Damascus steel, Ottoman Empire, early 20th century AD

Two Arabian swords, probably early 20th century, one of them with hilt on the shape of lion head and the other with wolf head facing each other, blade made of Damascus steel with grooves on both sides, scabbard and hilt made of silver with motifs of plants inspired from nature and decorated with Ottoman golden coins.

On the scabbard of the swords were Quran verses, blessing those who used the sword in Allah’s name and those who perished under the swords.

Permission (to fight) is given to those who are fought against, because they have been wronged, and Allah is powerful enough to give them victory. [39] (They are) the ones who were expelled from their homes without any just reason, except that they say “Our Lord is Allah” And had Allah not repelled some people by means of some others, the monasteries, the churches, the synagogues and the mosques where the name of Allah is recited abundantly would have been demolished. And Allah will definitely help those who help Him. Surely Allah is Powerful, Mighty. [40]

(They are) those who, when We give them power in the land, establish Salth, pay Zakah, bid the Fair and forbid the Unfalr. And with Allah lies the fate of all. [41]

Sura verses 39-41

Peshkabz, 18th Century AD, Central Asia

Peshkabz, 18th Century AD, Central Asia

The peshkabz is a type of Perso-Afghan knife, it is widely adopted in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. During their period of colonial rule in India, the British frequently referred to all Afghan blades of this pattern collectively as Afghan knives or Khyber knives; the blade was made of pure Damascus-steel with grip made of Ivory.

Guns and Saddles gallery comprises of two rooms, and exhibit extensive array of various elaborate designs reflecting the tastes of peoples and individuals at the time.

Some of the examples include: French and British rifles from the eighteenth century and earlier; different bayonets from WWI and WWII, and earlier; Ottoman pistols and guns of the eighteenth century; ancient rifles from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The gallery exhibits also include saddles, spears and arrows of historical value.


Museums inspire us to ask questions or offer different views rather than a standard narrative, exploring the worlds of the past become more enriching and fulfilling.

Because this is a private museum, do not expect top quality artefacts as most of the exhibits were collected or gifted to the founder over time. And unlike state or government museums, the funding was mainly from the owners or donations.

Crossroad of Civilizations Museum (CCM) متحف معبر الحضارات‎
Al Khaleej Road Sheikh Hasher AlMaktoum House – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Tel : +971 4 393 4440

Visited Nov 2022

#themuseumae #dubai #visitDubai #DubaiHistory #historyofDubai #CCMDubai @themuseumae

0 comments on “Dubai – Crossroad of Civilizations Museum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: