Bait Al Naboodah, a 173-year old house owned by the most influential pearl merchant in Sharjah, has been restored and converted into a museum.
Founded in 1845, the historic house was owned by an Emirati peal merchant, Emir Obaid bin Isa bin Ali Al Shamsi, who expanded his business network from the Arabian Gulf to India and Europe.
The restored house and museum underwent two years of extensive renovation work carried out by artisans and historians from the Sharjah Institute of Heritage, who worked on preserving various elements of the architecture including the building’s frescoes, wooden beams, and teak columns.
The two-storey building includes a bedroom on the ground floor, a courtyard, and a water well, with bedrooms and the rest of the ‘summer house’ located on the first floor.
The building features intricate interior details, including wooden doors and windows and Roman-esque columns in the courtyard.
The house was equipped with an innovative cooling system designed to create air flow along the main walls of the building to keep it cool during high temperatures.
Bait Al Naboodah was one of the largest houses in the Heart of Sharjah, located near the Fort of Sharjah, and near by the port and major markets.
“Experts from the Sharjah Institute for Heritage were careful to use a mix of traditional and modern techniques in the renovation work so that the restored building is an authentic representation of its past,” said Manal Ataya, director general of Sharjah Museums Authority.
“Every detail has been painstakingly brought back to life as a mark of respect for not only its esteemed former owner, but also for this important part of the UAE’s heritage and culture.
“Bait Al Naboodah is a stunning architectural example that embodies the heritage of Sharjah. We invite Emiratis, residents and tourists to experience first-hand the rich lives and experiences of the generations of people who called this grand old property home,” she added.
The renovation has converted the house into a museum of the Naboodah family’s holdings, where many of the architectural details of the house indicated the family’s social status.
Exhibitions in the new museum include coins from India and the Arabian Gulf, as well as number of devices used to measure the weight and size of pearls brought to Sharjah. It also includes preserved documents that show Al Naboodah’s dealings with various companies, businessmen and prominent members of the community, including the rulers of the era.
Interactive displays have been installed throughout Bait Al Naboodah to give visitors an insight into the importance of the pearl trade in Sharjah and the entire Gulf region, including a short film that explains the story of the pearl trade.
“Bait Al Naboodah has been fully restored to its former glory and is now a wonderful example of the home of a very successful pearl merchant,” Ataya added.
The building was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.