A guide to museums in Dubai
What’s On has details of the museums in Dubai, including a car museum, falconry, Dubai Police, as well as Louvre, Guggenheim, and Union.
To celebrate International Museum Day (May 18), we profile the pick of museums in Dubai, including some of the ambitious projects we have to look forward to.
DUBAI COFFEE MUSEUM
Drinking coffee is much more than getting a caffeine hit – it’s a ritual, whether you French press at home or grab and go on your way to the office. It’s integral to Arabic traditions of hospitality too, which is why it’s surprising that there hasn’t been anywhere in the region that showcases its coffee culture – until now. Thanks to Khalid Al Mulla, owner of coffee company Eastern Men and Co, Dubai is now home to the largest coffee museum in the Middle East.
Located in the Al Fahidi Historical District, Al Mulla’s collection is astonishing in size and scope. There are coffee grinders from the First World War made out of smelted bullets, and centuries-old brewing pots from Yemen, Egypt and Ethiopia. An 18th century book from Germany contains 177 pages dedicated to coffee (clearly written by someone who drank a lot of it) and upstairs, you can sip a cup of rocket fuel brewed via the traditional Japanese siphon method – as long as you have no plans to sleep that night.
Al Fahidi Heritage Village, near Sheikh Mohammed Centre For Cultural Understanding, Al Musallah Road, Al Fahidi Historical District, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3806777. Metro: Al Fahidi. coffeemuseum.ae
EMIRATES NATIONAL AUTO MUSEUM
Almost two hours from Dubai towards Liwa Oasis is a little slice of petrol head heaven. Dropped in the middle of nowhere is a pyramid shaped warehouse which is home to Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan’s colourful collection of motors. You’ll find everything from campervans to classic American sedans, and off-road buggies to military tanks. Some of the vehicles are in their original glory, while others have been tweaked and tailored to include rainbow hubcaps, TVs and refrigerators, even a rooftop golf range. With some of the collection having been featured in Top Gear and others holding a Guinness world record, this is not your average museum. The highlight is perhaps the five-metre tall Dodge pick-up truck that’s been converted into an apartment.
With thanks to Emirates Man for the information.
E65, Off E11, Towards Liwa Oasis, daily 8am to 5.30pm, Dhs50 per person. Tel: (050) 8102211. enam.ae
DUBAI MUSUEM OF THE MOVING IMAGE
Phenakistiscope. Dutch peepbox. Zoetrope. Praxinoscope. And a Kaiser panorama. These wonderfully named objects are just some of the 200 artefacts on display at the Dubai Museum Of The Moving Image. The remarkable collection – gathered over 36 years by businessman Akram Miknas – is the only one of its kind in the Middle East. Located above Lila Café in Tecom, the museum chronicles the history of the moving image up to the invention of cinema. The oldest piece in the museum is the Dutch peepbox, dating from 1750, which gives a glimpse of early attempts at 3D. The early cameras are beautiful, intricate machines, mostly housed in elegant wooden cases.
MCN Building, Tecom, Dubai, Sun to Thur 11am to 7pm, except Wed 11am to 9pm, Sat noon to 7pm. Dhs50. Tel: (04) 4216679. Metro: Internet City. dubaimovingimagemuseum.com
One of the country’s oldest traditions is falconry and it’s hard not to walk through a mall or go on a desert safari without coming up close to one. They are often used as a gimmick to encourage tourists to part with their money for a staged photo. For a more authentic experience with these elegant birds of prey, check out Abu Dhabi’s falcon hospital, the world’s largest and most advanced hospital dedicated to all things falcon. You can visit the museum and discover the bird’s history, take a guided tour and experience the thrill of the free-flying falcon display.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, near Abu Dhabi International Airport, Sweihan Road, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (02) 5755155. falconhospital.com
The Dubai Museum is located within the restored Al Fahidi Fort, which was originally built in the late 1700s to defend the city against invasions. The carefully curated items help document Dubai’s incredible rise from a small fishing village to the global economic and touristic hub that it is today. Highlights include the pearl diving display and the archaeology exhibit, which displays unique artefacts from ancient settlements in Jumeirah.
And we’ve got more to look forward to…
Lavish plans for a Dhs500 million museum in Dubai chronicling the birth of the UAE were approved by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in early 2015. The Union Museum – set to cover 2.5 hectares – will be located next to the Union House, the historical landmark where the signing of the treaty establishing the UAE took place in 1971, and will document the story of the UAE from 1968 to 1974. The eye-catching structure is designed in the shape of a manuscript with seven columns built into the museum to resemble the pens used to sign the original declaration, and will consist of eight permanent pavilions:
For more information on Union Museum, click the link.
MUSEUM OF THE FUTURE
The eye-catching structure planned for the Museum Of The Future set tongues wagging around the world when they were revealed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Set to open in 2017 in front of Emirates Towers, the circular structure is unlike any other building in the region, or indeed the world. The museum’s motto, ‘See the future, create the future,’ is certainly evident in the design. The large silver structure is in the shape of an eye, hollowed out in the middle. The video shows a series of glass walkways, exposed elevators and balconies, and several stunning exhibits in communal areas. It will be a hub of innovation all working towards making Dubai a city of the future.
For more information on Museum Of The Future, click the link.
GUGGENHEIM ABU DHABI
Expected to display what it calls ‘the most important artistic achievements of our time’. Entry to the museum on Saadiyat Island will be by one of the building’s cones, which will be covered with panes of blue glass on the outside. Inside you’ll find a 350-seat theatre, which will hold lectures, symposiums and dance and theatre productions. It’ll also include 13,000sqm of gallery space and 18,000sqm of exhibition space. It is due to open in 2017.
ZAYED NATIONAL MUSEUM
This spectacular looking museum will tell the story of HH Shiekh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, his unification of the UAE and the history of the region. The museum’s design is themed on the feathers of a falcon. Each steel feather contains a gallery space and the tallest will be 125m high. There’ll also be landscape gardens for visitors to stroll around. It opens on Saadiyat Island in 2016.
LOUVRE ABU DHABI
A joint venture between the Abu Dhabi and French governments, Louvre Abu Dhabi will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance. All objects will be displayed chronologically, the idea being that visitors go on a journey through time. The museum will display its own national collection, with the Louvre in France also contributing exhibits from time to time. The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s dome is the size of five football pitches and the design is inspired by the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used to roof houses. It opens in 2015.
For more information on the Louvre Abu Dhabi, click the link.
DUBAI POLICE MUSEUM
This new celebration of the police force will be next to Dubai Police’s Headquarters near the Al Qiyadah Metro station. The building will look like a giant police hat, standing four storeys high. It will contain memorabilia including weapons, old uniforms, telecommunications equipment, radars and brochures.
For more information on the Dubai Police Museum click the link.