Dubai Pearl Museum
Dubai Pearl Museum
   Reading 2 min

The Arabian Gulf region has always been widely known for the natural pearls that could be found in its warm, shallow waters. Before the discovery of oil, pearl diving and trading played a key role in the economical, social, and cultural life of the society. If you are interested in learning more about the history and heritage of pearl diving in the UAE, you should definitely visit the Dubai Pearl Museum located on the 15th floor of the Emirates NBD (former National Bank of Dubai).

The idea of the museum was proposed by the Emirates NBD itself. At that time, the chairman of the bank was Sultan Ali Al Owais, a writer, poet, and a philanthropist. Being the son of prominent pearl trader Ali Bin Abdullah Al Owais of the 1940s, he continued to add to the family collection of pearls and various sea artefacts. In 1970, Sultan Al Owais donated the whole collection to the bank, and thus, the Pearl Museum was born.

Pearls on display at the Pearl Museum.

Spanning four floors, the Pearl Museum explores the Emirati pearl industry: from the beginning of the pearl diving season to jewellery production, it provides insight into the industry’s past and present. Visitors get a thrilling opportunity to admire thousands of flawless pearls not only from the Arabian Gulf, but also the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. They are placed against the red velvet background to make their lustre even brighter. One of the sections of the exhibition displays a collection of historical pearls including those with royal provenance. Among the exhibits is the Baroda Pearl Carpet which was created in the 18th century in India and is made of millions of pearls. Besides, on view are fascinating pearl jewelleries (rings, necklaces, earrings, etc.) of different designs.

One of the jewelleries on display at the Pearl Museum.

The museum also celebrates the renowned divers and sailors and showcases the diving paraphernalia, for example, nose pegs. On display are maps and equipment used by pearl merchants: sieves, weighing scales made from precious stones, and wooden boxes for keeping wares.

At the museum, visitors can also learn about the history, culture, and science of pearls with the help of some interactive exhibits. Virtual Reality Pearl Diving takes one on a journey through time to explore the traditional methods of pearl diving and the lives of the divers. The Pearl Identification Station teaches visitors how to identify various types of pearls and tell the difference between natural and cultured pearls. Featuring a range of pearls, the exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to handle and examine them closely.

A knife used for opening oyster shells on display at the Pearl Museum.

The Pearl Museum is free to attend. Please note, one can visit it only with the permission of Emirates NBD, so you have to contact the museum in advance. Groups of 7-10 people are preferable. The maximum number of visitors allowed to enter the museum at one time is 21.

To learn more about the museum, please visit its official website.

We would also recommend you to visit the Bait Al Naboodah Museum in Sharjah and Museum Hub at Souk Al Marfa.

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