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After experiencing the glam and glitz of the United Arab Emirates, ever wondered about the humble beginnings of the bedouin country? There is no better place than the Etihad Museum to delve into the past. Situated in Jumeirah, Dubai the Etihad Museum is a spectacle offering a series of interactive pavilions and cultural offerings of the United Arab Emirates contemporary history. Through a panoply of photos, films and original documents, one can witness the evolution of the United Arab Emirates at the Etihad Museum and walk out better enlightened.
Before you embark on this journey to the past, here’s all you should know about the Etihad Museum Dubai.
Inaugurated on December 2, 2016 by Sheikh Mohammed on the celebrations of the 45th National Day the Etihad museum is run in collaboration between the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. While the former was incharge of the design, development and construction, the latter is manages the site currently. The Etihad Museum is marked by a UAE flag atop the 123-metre golden pole on Jumeirah Beach Road and is a repository of documentary films, photographs, artefacts, timelines and interactive displays. This panoply of originals concentrates on historic milestones in the years leading up to the unification of the United Arab Emirates and pays homage to the country’s seven founding fathers.
Etihad Museum History & Architecture
Located next to the historic Union House on the Dubai waterfront, the Etihad museum was built to honour the most pivotal moment in UAE’s history – the birth of the country at the Union House. The Union House was the very room where the 7 rulers of the 7 Emirates came together in 1971 to sign the declaration that marked the formation of the United Arab Emirates. Since then, the oval-shaped Union House has undergone restoration and refurbishment, however, the building’s exterior including the windows and railings, are all original. Once the idea to build the Etihad Museum origined, in just 17 months, the 25,000 square meter museum was built. Even the logo of the Etihad museum is inspired by the shape of Union House.
Apart from the Union House, the Etihad Museum comprises of 2 other important halves – the Guest Palace and the Visitors Pavilion. The Etihad Museum is situated underground and directly connected to the Guest House through a suite located above ground outside of the museum building.
Designed by Canadian architects Moriyama & Teshima Architects the museum is constructed in the shape of a manuscript, with seven leaning columns representing the pens that signed the declaration of the Constitution in 1971. Although all the furniture restoration was carried out within the UAE, the interiors, including the carpets, curtains and chandeliers were imported from India, Turkey and Germany. Near the flag pole is a body of water designed to match the shape of the original shoreline at the time the union of UAE was conceived. Don’t overlook this beautiful creation to witness how UAE looked in the past.
Contrary to popular thought, the name Etihad Museum has nothing to do with the Etihad airlines. Etihad is translates to ‘union’ in Arabic.
Inside Etihad Museum – Your Tour Experience
So what is inside the stunning Etihad Museum and what do you get to experience inside it? Here’s a brief description of how your visit to the Etihad Museum would go.
As soon as you enter the opulent compound, you shall walk through the reception to reach the main building, its curved architecture creating an embracing circular structure, assured to leave you gaping at it for a few minutes. There are 3 integral parts to the Etihad Museum – The Union House, the Guest House and the Visitor’s Pavilion. All of these parts bring together permanent and temporary exhibitions, a theatre, library, an interactive timeline with maps and videos an educational area and a casual recreational space. The interactive programmes are particularly interesting as it educates visitors on the rights, privileges and responsibilities the constitution bestows upon the people of the UAE.
There are 10 halls in total, each one designed around a different theme – the Founding Fathers, the UAE Interactive Map, the Interactive Timeline Hall, the Showcase, the Canals, the Seeds of Unity, the Change of Union, the Unity of the UAE, the Constitution and the Union Accomplishment.
One of the visitor favourites is the Founding Fathers hall where visitors get a chance to know in depth about each founding father, witness their belonging; all supplemented by interactive screens providing information about their biographies and family trees.
Another integral part of the Etihad Museum is the Guest House, a building of historic important where the founders met before signing the union. This building is said to hold the Late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Majlis’s private office and dining room with seating for 300 people. From old passports to personal artefacts such as letters, rings, eyeglasses and pocket watches, stamps and and other rare items are on display for the public to add dimensions to the story of UAE.
There is also a snug, yet massive library where one flip through pictorial books, a beautiful garden to amble around and a great cafe serving arabian delicacies with a modern twist like the camel milk ice cream. There is an interesting stamps collection with the Royal Mail map that deserves a visit too. All in all, the Etihad Museum is a great way to learn the region’s history amidst a thoroughly contemporary setting.
What is Etihad Museum?
Etihad Museum is a world-class heritage museum that connects Emiratis, residents and visitors to the rich heritage of the UAE, embracing traditional values and revealing powerful continuities between past and contemporary Emirati identity. The museum collects, researches, preserves and interprets Emirati cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, through its innovative exhibitions, events and public learning programmes. A cornerstone of the Dubai Historical District, it is a place where Emiratis, residents and visitors can celebrate and explore heritage and culture, and discover an interactive and participatory environment for all to enjoy.
What are the sections of the museum?
Etihad Museum will paint a complete picture of Emirati and Dubai heritage, inviting visitors to explore this heritage through three main themes: ‘Sections’, ‘External Sections’, and ‘Collection’.
What is the collection of the museum?
The Etihad Museum’s collection includes both tangible and intangible expressions of the heritage and culture of Dubai and the UAE. Visitors will discover items of deep cultural significance, ranging from artefacts and art works to archival photography, film and educational content, in a historic location at the heart of the Dubai Historic District.