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  • The Museum parking area and nearby public parking areas are available (relatively few)
  • Do not self drive to museums and heritage sites as they are located in crowded old city areas and parking is a scarcity there; you are rather advised to use public transport.
  • Wear easy to slip in and out footwear as many places would need you to remove your footwear.

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The breathtakingly beautiful blue waters of the Arabian Sea make Dubai a top spot for beach lovers, snorkelling, fishing and all kinds of water sports. Of course over the years Dubai has become extremely popular for fishing as a sport but pearl diving is what Dubai was famous for, in fact for hundreds of years, the finest pearls in the world were found in the waters of the Arabian Gulf.

Pearl diving is part of the UAE’s history and it is still considered an occupation by some. Fishing was the traditional lifeblood of the community, locals and the sea always have had a bond - they believed in only taking what they needed - which stands true even to this day. The ancient pearling industry provided the only real income for the people of what is now the UAE. Farming was difficult as the land was barren and the barter system was their way of trading.

Did you know that in 2011, Dubai hosted the sale of the world’s largest pearl – a drop-shaped natural pearl weighing 59.92 carats which was sold for AED 934,842 at Christie’s Dubai. However, in those days fishermen who found the occasional pearl would have need to keep it until there was an opportunity to barter it, bearing in mind that to gather more oysters, required a huge communal effort, as well as people who were able to dive to depths of around 40 metres without equipment, in order to access the offshore oyster beds.

Pearling didn’t take off as an actual trade until India became increasingly prosperous in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the demand for pearls grew. Families who took to this industry even settled permanently in the coastal villages, mostly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Meanwhile families in the other Emirates would live on the coast during the four months of the main pearling season, from May to September, and return to the desert in the winter.

If you want to try pearl diving for yourself then get in touch with the Emirates Marine Environmental Group on +971 4 363 0581 or Jumeirah Beach Hotel on +971 4 406 8828. Tours are generally about AED 700 (adults) and conducted in the waters off Palm Jebel Ali.

You will learn the history of oysters as well and even if you don’t find a pearl it is mostly a learning experience than the treasure hunting. Some of the tours even offer traditional diving clothes, fish and rice dishes cooked aboard for lunch.

Dubai’s tradition, history and culture are hidden gems, much like the pearls nestled within the hard exterior of the oyster, to find it one must look deep into what the city has to offer and get to know the real Dubai and its story.