Bait Al Naboodah
The house, a traditional Arabian family home based around a courtyard with almond and palm trees, was built in approximately 1845. It is an outstanding example of its style and features fine carved teak reflective of the wealth and status of its owner, the pearl merchant Obaid Bin Isa Bin Ali Al Shamsi, who was known as Al Naboodah. His family were members of the influential Al Bu Shamis tribe (Al Shamsi is the singular of Al Bu Shamis). Obaid Al Naboodah had three wives. He gave his name to one of the UAE's great trading families, today employing some 16,000 staff and active across aviation, construction, agriculture and logistics.
Constructed from coral, gypsum and adobe, the house consists of a number of rooms around a central courtyard, with family quarters accessible separately from outside supporting extended family members as the house was expanded to accommodate his children and their respective families. The house is a double story building, relatively unusual for its time and a symbol of great wealth. Instead of the traditional barjeel wind towers for cooling, the house features malaqaf, wind catchers built into the walls.
Al Naboodah's majlis was located opposite the family home. He traded his pearls with markets in the UK and France but also, crucially, with India and it was the legendary wealth of the Maharajahs which was to form the mainstay of his business. This Indian trade also allowed Al Naboodah to buy great columns and doors of teak from India and ship them back to Sharjah to his ever-growing house, which was eventually to reach 10,000 metres in area.
Al Naboodah was an unusually cosmopolitan figure in contemporary Sharjah, maintaining houses in Paris and Mumbai as well as his family home in what was then a relatively small, if affluent, town. Like many merchants of his class, he was hit hard by the combination of the Great Depression and the growing taste for Japanese cultured pearls and watched demand for his trade dry up almost overnight. With pearling boats laid up and the entire system of trade which subsisted around pearling collapsing, the populace of Sharjah (and the other coastal emirates of the Trucial States) was faced with financial ruin, poverty and, ultimately, starvation. Although Al Naboodah was known for his generosity, times were harsh. Efforts by the British Board of Trade to find alternative markets for the Gulf's pearls failed and diversification was the only route open to many traders who would have been saddled with considerable debts throughout the slow collapse of the trade.
Members of the family continued to live in the house through its long decline until the 1970s, when it was left to Sharjah Heritage. Suffering extensive water and termite damage, the house was originally restored in the 1990s and then re-opened in April 2018 following major restoration work.
- "Inside the newly restored Bait Al Naboodah in Sharjah - in pictures". The National. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
- "Sharjah Museums Department - Bait Al Naboodah". www.sharjahmuseums.ae. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
- "Alnaboodah". www.alnaboodah.com. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
- Heard-Bey, Frauke (2005). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates : a society in transition. London: Motivate. p. 219. ISBN 1860631673. OCLC 64689681.
- "Bait Al Naboodah opens after major restoration work". wam. Retrieved 2018-12-05.