Award winning private museum, the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum (CCM) opened its doors on January 27th, 2014. It houses the personal collection of historic artefacts, rare manuscripts and the armory of  Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori. It illustrates the historic role of his homeland as a cultural crossroads of global trade routes between Europe, Africa, and Asia where the United Arab Emirates , from its ancient center on the Creek, has witnessed an evocative and important interplay of several of the world’s civilizations.

CCM has now grown into a group of three museums: Crossroads of Civilizations Museum, Rare Books, Manuscripts & Prints Museum, and The Armory Museum. the two museums are located at a nearby heritage house a short, well signed distance from Crossroads of Civilizations Museum. The three museums are now referred to as The Museum Group. It illustrates specific aspects of each civilization that has a historical connection with the region. These different aspects demonstrate how the interaction of different civilizations has enhanced artistic expression and creative evolution as well generating trade.

The key message is that human tolerance of diversity, and multiculturalism, in all its forms enables creativity and human development. It sends a positive message of hope to future generations. The Museum Group seeks to demonstrate and reflect the values that motivated all traders and travelers to invest in positive relationships with one another, and empowered them to establish mutual interests. Specific exhibits within The Museum Group demonstrate the existence of regulations which underpinned and gave assurance and therefore encouraged others to bring their goods and pass through Dubai with confidence. Moreover, the success of the current vision, multiculturalism, plurality, and progress in Dubai, are a testament to the ancient culture that welcomed all civilizations to settle or to travel through its city.

Working with academia, The Museum Group also provides an educational platform for researchers and institutions by establishing the Documentation & Reference Office. Through its collection, The Museum Group aims to provide an opportunity for future generations to reflect on the beauty of diversity, to be able to understand and accept the perspectives of others bringing them closer together in spite of their differences, and underlining the historical values that trading between past civilizations forged – namely tolerance and mutual respect.

A historical overview

Located at the historic residence of H.H. Sheikh Hashr Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the younger brother of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum- the grandfather of the current Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the building is an Arabian architectural masterpiece in its own right dating to the 19th century and is part of Bur Dubai’s Shindagha Heritage village area-a geographically important location. The house itself originally overlooked three waterfronts, the Arabian Gulf, Bur Dubai, and a water causeway which connected the two at the time; giving it a strategically significant position at the tip of a throbbing trade area that has been the centre of a crossroads of trade. From its watchtower, which still exists, shipping could be observed.

Our courtyard (El Fena)

El Fena is the central courtyard of a typical Arabian home and was an important part feature in modern architecture  in the Emirates for more than 100 years, as means of adapting to the harsh climate. Most of the rooms looked inward, with shaded verandas overlooking the courtyard. The courtyard generated wind movement within a house, by allowing hot air to ascend, and the cooler air to replace it from the surrounding rooms. More importantly, it became the place where family members gathered together for social activities in private. Today, El Fena at The Museum continues with that tradition, gathering groups of visitors, school students, and researchers from around the world. Since the landscaping has been revamped, butterflies and birds have also started to return and gather at El Fena making it peaceful and calm. The surroundings of El Fena are also the ideal space to hold a corporate or a private event. For enquiries, please contact The Museum Group.

The foundation of judicial decisions in Dubai

During the early 19th century, according to The Dubai Courts document (2011), the judiciary in Dubai started in a simplistic form that met the basic needs of the Emirate’s society. “The judiciary was first officially designated by virtue of the decision of H.H. Sheikh Said Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai in 1938, as he referred disputes among the people to his brother, Sheikh Hashr Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum”, whose home currently houses the museum. In 1956 He was succeeded by his son Sheikh Mohamed Bin Hashr Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum – who was named the chief judge of Dubai… In 1958, “Nayef Fort” became the official headquarters of the judiciary in Dubai, where only disputes among civilians were settled. However, foreign litigators had to consult the British Justice Authority which had a jury, also headed by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Hashr Al Maktoum, the chief judge of the Emirate. There were assistants with experience in the settlement of marine disputes, to whom the litigations related to diving and maritime activities were referred. Such assistants were called “salifah”, and they used to arbitrate on disputes related to naval activities, including the assessment of indemnity for damages in naval activities and businesses. The Rulings by such assistants were reported to the judiciary for approval.

Developing our collection

The Crossroads of Civilizations Museum Group reflects not only the ancient objects’ story, but also encompasses far more than a single locale or people. It weaves together pathways of cultural and material exchange and underlines how tolerance and mutual respect are the historical values forged as a result of trading and interaction between past civilizations. As we examine an object that traveled from afar to be gifted to family or traded for precious metals, we witness man’s unceasing journey to improve life: seeking out new materials, new inventions, and new status. It is this restlessness that has enriched all of history’s great civilizations.

With Dubai as a world-recognized hub of modern trade, we reflect on the reality that today’s incredible pace of commercial building grows out of the city’s historical role as a crossroads. Sometimes the connection to ancient historical periods lies just below the surface. A 1995 extension of the Abu Dhabi International Airport yielded two Bronze Age stone structures. Archaeologists worked to solve the mysteries of their use, their “architects,” and their owners to recover a long-lost chapter from the history of passing merchants.

Moreover, our collection was also developed to reflect what the West has said about us, acknowledging past travelers who introduced the region to the West and to the rest of the world. We also honor the contribution of historical personalities who have enriched the human cultural heritage, and those who have changed or impacted world’s history. As such, our collection includes rare books, important manuscripts, old photographs, and maps revealing how travelers journeyed through our region, and how the borders of civilizations countries changed over time.