Abu Dhabi: Emirates tourism
Dalma museum is the house of Mohamed bin Gasem al-Marikhy, a famous pearl’s merchant, who has been born in 1870 and passed away in 1935.
Al-Marikhy was one of the most well-known pearl merchants not only in Dalma Island, but also in the whole Arab Gulf region. Named in the old days as the Pearl Center, the museum, which works under the supervision of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, is known currently as Dalma Museum.
Secrets behind history
Located in Dalma Island in Abu Dhabi, the museum has preserved several secrets and mysteries of the old history of Dalma residents, as well as contained rich old treasures and heritage artifacts dated back to different historical eras.
Al-Marikhy house constitutes a prominent footprint of the history and originality of Dalma Island, as it forms civilizational communicating point between the sea boats, and the merchants of textures and pearls.
Once you look at the house from each side, you can simply see the Umayyad architect art, which has considered carefully in designing the house structure, or even in distributing the rooms, the Gulf environmental conditions.
The architectural design has tackled precisely the humidity percentages, ventilations means, and new innovative air-condition techniques; very rare features that could only be found in the Arab Gulf countries.
The Umayyad architect design is very obvious in every single corner, side, pillar, inked decorations and barrels…etc.
Traditions of old era
The architectural design of al-Marikhy house hasn’t neglected in its details the social unique features of the United Arab of Emirates, which basically focus on the Arab Islamic design and the original traditions of building.
Those unique traditions have been seen clearly in the architectural separation between men and women guest rooms. The design has greatly considered that the house is not only a residential place but it is also an influential industrial, commercial, economic and cultural forum.
Once visiting that historical site and seeing the front walls of the building, you will find with the direction of the wind, two-story house. The down floor is a rectangle hall leading to two rooms, one on the left side and the other on the right side. Those two rooms were used as warehouses for preserving the materials coming by the commercial ships from India, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries.
The discovery of Dalma Island dates back to 1975, when an Iraqi archeological mission, along with local experts from the UAE, who have experience at the antiquities sites, visited the island, and registered some spots from the 18th and 19th Islamic eras.
In 1979, a French excavation mission has recorded some remarks on the locations or the remained antiquities sites including the Islamic buildings. The mission has pointed out that some sites dates back to the Sasanian Empire or the beginning of the Islamic period (400-800 B.C.)
In the Museum of Dalma Island, there are pieces of artifacts from ceramic, glass, metal, pottery pots, coins that date back to the Islamic era, “8th and 9th centuries”, and there are also treasures and buildings in the museum that date back to thousands of years, as proved by other archeological team from Britain and other countries.
Al-Marikhy or Dalma museum includes three dates squeezing machines that were used 250 years ago. Those machines formed a secured source for providing rich food for the Island and the neighboring islands residents.
The production of dates has at that time excessive amounts that allowed exportation. Those dates machines at the pearl center, affirms that the Dalma Museum was a rich garden of palm trees and fruits, which aided in flourishing the industry of dates honey, drying dates and grapes.
The pearl center also had worked on providing a very essential nutrition pillar for food that was based on the island agriculture products, along with using all the available capabilities, without any waste, to achieve self-sufficiency and export the surplus.
Deals & agreements
The council in the upper floor has prompted very sophisticated relations with its unique role. It is a meeting room for senior merchants, the pearls traders in particular, where deals and consultations on the trade and navigation were concluded. The room was also a place for the merchants’ relaxation, and was a cultural gathering that resembles the literature salons nowadays.
That council has played an essential role as a semi-parliament that gathers the Island’s residents and merchants from outside to exchange conversations and identify the conditions of diving and trips.
All the information on every ship, its team of divers and sailors, the volume of the pearls and its weights and measures and even the market requirements and the prices in the other countries, were documented.
The sailors were also discussed issues over the taxes levy and the divers’ problems and other important things for the Island residents.
The records showed that the pearl center was holding regular markets for the pearl sellers who came from different countries around the world like India, and was also a destination for the passing ships in the Gulf water as a logistics center for providing food, water and any other provisions.
Al-Marikhy house, which compromises currently the museum, was considered a council for merchants and seniors, and a field center for circulating economic information important for the merchants and a circle for listening to the stories and popular sayings of the poets and narrators.
The house was also a destination for foreign merchants who came for trade exchange with neighboring countries.
Under its ceil, the peal merchants were discussing the sea affairs, disputed issues, diving and sailing problems, and the sailors ties with the merchants.
The house also witnessed cycles of narrating stories on the sailing ventures, and the ships wreckages.
Yaaed Bin Salem Al-Quobaisy, 65 years, one of the island residents, said he has listened to several stories from his grandfathers, which proved that the island was the biggest market for peal and terminus for peal famous traders.
The museum compromises sea stones, very old catching tools and hooks, water wells, ceramic pots, and machines of hundreds of years in age. Itis considered one of the prominent archeological locations in Dalma Island that has been established in the 19th century.
The museum today is an archeological eyewitness of the island, likewise other archeological buildings and heritage collections that spread along the island, such as diving grits made of stones and others made from shell fishes of the pearls, in addition to some water containers and other signs that showed originality of Dalma’s inhabitants.
Dalma also comprises archeological buildings like mosques, houses, water wells. Al-Quobaisy noted that “those antiquities should be preserved, to recite the story of the island for the coming generations.”
“The Island’s story managed to attract all eyes as a focal interest point due to its unique geographical location and the services it have provided for the passing ships,” added he.
The history of Dalma Island filled the soul with pride and honor of old history that should be maintained to keep the connections between sons and fathers along the history.
The history records revealed that the original residents of the island owned fleet of 500 ships, with 50-150 divers were working on each. In the diving season, the island has been inhabited by more than 10,000 persons whether original residents, divers or pearl merchants.