Bait Al Wakeel: The "Agent's Office"
Bait Al Wakeel is one of Dubai's oldest buildings. Built in 1935 from local mud and coral together with Mangrove Poles imported from East Africa as roof support, Bait Al Wakeel was built as a Company Office and Residence for Gray Mackenzie and Company.
Later Bait Al Wakeel fell into disrepair but is now restored.
About Bait Al Wakeel
Located in Dubai Soukh and adjacent to Dubai Creek, Bait Al Wakeel was built in 1935 as a Shipping Office for Gray Mackenzie and Company who were Agents for many of the Shipping Lines calling at Dubai back then. Gray Mackenzie & Co was first appointed as the licensed shipping agents in Dubai in 1891 and received their first official lease of an office building in 1916 from the Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum.
In 1930, the same year that the first automobile arrived in the Trucial States, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, commissioned the construction of Bait Al Wakeel as Gray Mackenzie & Co offices. Lower floor served as an Office with easy access to a Creekside jetty where Gray Mackenzie's boats were moored. Ocean going liners anchored offshore from Dubai to discharge their cargoes and passengers long before Port Rashid was built. As a Ship's Agent, Gray Mackenzie liaised with each ship's Captain to deal with formalities and arrange cargo discharge. With no communication systems, Gray Mackenzie personnel had to physically and frequently travel by boat to and from the ships. Easy access to Gray Mac's boats was important. Merchants also had to have easy access to Bait Al Wakeel to arrange discharge, clearance and delivery of their cargoes. All the documentation involved was processed by Gray Mackenzie Clerks on this lower floor.
Gray Mackenzie and Bait Al Wakeel
Bait Al Wakeel's upper floor provided living accommodation for Gray Mackenzie's Manager and his Family. While the accommodation was not palatial, it did provide a balcony with an outlook over Dubai Creek. Bait Al Wakeel was still being used to house junior Gray Mackenzie management staff until around 1972. Commercial operations had been transferred in 1964 to Gray Mackenzie's new Al Ras offices on newly reclaimed land on Deiraside where it is still today. (Image by L Hejze)
Al Wakeel: Decline
Gray Mackenzie built and opened new offices on Deiraside in 1964 but continued to use Bait Al Wakeel as staff accommodation until the early 1970s when they vacated Bait Al Wakeel. Building then became accommodation for Dubai's growing Labour Force. Neglect and time saw Bait Al Wakeel fall into disrepair until, in the 1990s, the Dubai Municipality took responsibility for this historic building and restored Bait Al Wakheel. (Image by L Chapman)
Al Wakeel: Restoration
Dubai Municipality restored and remodeled Bait Al Wakeel as an historic building. Later local Businessman Mr Ahmed Al Rafi took over the building, completed the refurbishment and opened the Bait Al Wakeel as a Creek Side Restaurant. The landing stage where the Agent's boats used to leave to visit the Cargo Ships anchored offshore now provides a unique place to dine and watch the abras and dhows on Dubai Creek. Al Wakeel also houses a Maritime Museum devoted to local Fishing History.