The tiny Al Fahidi fort was built in 1787 to protect the port from marauding landward tribes and seafaring pirates. During the 20th century the fort fell into disrepair, but the coral stone and stucco walls were restored, and today it hosts Dubai's national museum. Upon entering the museum, you step back in time to before the discovery of oil and the arrival of container ships. A series of cleverly designed subterranean spaces take you through the daily life of Dubai's past. For instance, you can stroll through a life-size re-creation of the creekside wharfs and souks, where lifelike figures include fishermen, pearl traders, spice merchants, and metal workers. The sights and sounds of different trades come to life in original sound tracks that play in the background, and with the help of projected images, life-size figures appear as though they're performing tasks. Here, you can feel the excitement and energy of what was once one of the Arab world's most exciting port towns. The final series of galleries, before the gift shop and museum exit, holds cases of artifacts found on archaeological digs around the emirate. The earliest ones date from the 3rd millennium BC, and include human remains from ritual burials and such grave goods as spearheads.