Designed to promote Dubai’s customs and culture, Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is in the city’s Al Fahidi Historical Quarter—also called the Bastakia Quarter—and welcomes visitors under an “Open Doors, Open Minds” motto. The center showcases Dubai’s traditional and Bedouin roots through a variety of activities. The Basics
Occupying a restored Al Fahidi wind tower house, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) will appeal to anyone interested in Dubai’s history and cultural heritage. In addition to walking tours of Al Fahidi’s sikka
lanes, wind towers, and mosques, the center offers a range of interactive experiences. Options include Emirati meals and Q&A sessions held in the cushion-lined courtyard; visits to Dubai’s Jumeirah Mosque; falconry demos, and more.
Visitors can prebook online for a number of SMCCU-hosted activities, including walking tours. Alternatively, for a wider look at Dubai paired with cultural insight from the SMCCU, take your pick from full- or half-day Dubai tours that include not just city sightseeing but an SMCCU-guided walk around Al Fahidi. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- An SMCCU tour is essential for visitors who want to gain deeper insight into Dubai’s cultural heritage.
- Organized experiences and walking tours can involve visits to mosques, so guests should dress modestly with knees and shoulders covered.
- Wear sunscreen and a hat for the guided walks; Al Fahidi has little shade.
- There are restrooms on-site, but not much else in the way of facilities.
On the edges of Dubai’s Al Fahidi quarter south of Dubai Creek, the SMCCU is surrounded by busy streets and has no parking lot. Instead of driving, take a taxi or the metro to Al Fahidi station. Leave the station from the Al Musallah exit and follow the Al Musallah/Al Satwa Road north, crossing over the Al Fahidi roundabout to the center on your left. It’s a 10-minute walk to the center from the station. When to Get There
The SMCCU is open 8am-4pm Sunday to Thursday and 9am-1pm Saturday, and it’s closed Friday. Tours and activities are held year-round and are most popular during Dubai’s peak season (November-March). What to Expect at a SMCCU Cultural Meal
The cultural meals at the SMCCU include breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner on different days of the week. Guests can expect a light, authentic meal of meat and vegetable dishes, breads, and desserts such as Emirati doughnuts soaked in fig syrup, accompanied by nonalcoholic drinks.