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Eclectic Center Throughout Time

The historical exchange between civilizations unfolds at the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum.

Due to its location at the intersection of global trade routes, the United Arab Emirates has witnessed the spectacular interaction of nearly all the world's civilizations. The Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai, UAE, honors this dynamic interplay of culture, art, and history. The collection includes rare artifacts, such as pearls, manuscripts, literature, and weaponry.

When we think of Dubai, we think of skyscrapers, but old Dubai is considered a town housing the huts of Bedouin traders and pearl divers along the banks of Dubai Creek.

Artist unknown

Pearls were prized as an exclusive jewel associated with royalty and nobility for thousands of years, and people sought them out all across the world. Some of the oldest trading networks in history were established due to the world's love of pearls.

Cleopatra and the pearl, detail from a 17th-century painting by Carlo Maratti

Among the most colorful tales of the history of the pearl is that of Cleopatra's pearl, told by the Roman author Pliny the Elder in his Natural History.

"There have been two pearls that were the largest in the whole of history; both were owned by Cleopatra … they had come down to her through the hands of the Kings of the East...She took one earring off and dropped the pearl in the vinegar, and when it was melted swallowed it.”

Pliny claims that this was done in order to win a bet she had made with her lover, Mark Antony of Rome, that she could host the most expensive banquet in history. 


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