Dubai's Modern Heritage Initiative

 An aerial view of Dubai World Trade Centre on Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai, circa 1980s. Image via Gulf News.

An aerial view of Dubai World Trade Centre on Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai, circa 1980s. Image via Gulf News.

Earlier this month, Gulf News published an article titled Dubai to preserve modern heritage buildings under new initiative announcing that Dubai Municipality has launched the "Modern Heritage Initiative" to protect buildings from the 1960-70s that are "considered part of the memory of the place and contributing to the story of the development of Dubai". 

The initiative is a collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Al Baraha Hospital, Knowledge Fund Establishment, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and the World Trade Centre, and so far, the following have been listed as the buildings that will be preserved: 
Al Ras Library (1963)
Clock Tower Roundabout (1964)
Al Baraha Hospital (1966)
Al Khulood Nursery School (1975)
The Dubai World Trade Centre (1979)

This is a long due initiative, but it also feels a little too late because the majority of what was built in the 1960s-70s and before have been demolished. 

Four years ago, Dubai Culture announced Al Maktoum Hospital, Dubai's first hospital from 1951 would be turned into a museum. When I visited the site a couple of years go, it was obvious most of the hospital was demolished with only a small part under renovation and it was surrounded by newly built shops. There's no word about the museum today. 

In 2012, there was the ambition to include Dubai Creek in the Unesco World Heritage List, but in July this year it was announced that Dubai Municipality withdrew its bid to list the creek as a World Heritage Site. The reason? “We have certain developments coming up over there.” There's been a lot of development around the creek for the past few years, shrinking whatever is left of historical value, so I'm surprised Dubai even considered trying to get on that list. 

Perhaps the recent interest in UAE architecture has made Dubai Municipality realise the importance of protecting a handful of buildings in this city - National Pavillion UAE has been participating in the Venice Architecture Biennale since 2014, Sharjah announced the inaugural edition of Sharjah Architecture Triennial will take place in November 2019, Building Sharjah, a book celebrating the architecture of Sharjah is expected to be released in 2020, 

We still have buildings from the 1980s and I do hope the Modern Heritage Initiative will work on protecting buildings from that decade too, before they too disappear.  

Below are a few buildings from the 1970s-80s I'd like to see added to the list. The ones without a specific year are based on my memory. If you have more accurate information, please leave a comment or contact me. Click on each photo for image source (photos of Emirates NBD, Bur Dubai / Deira Tower and Dubai Tower / Sheikh Hamdan Building are taken by me).