Want to learn about the history, culture and nature of the country? Here’s a great place to do it.

Self-driving taxis, the Hyperloop, a tower set to dwarf the Burj Khalifa… the UAE’s a pretty forward-thinking country.

And the newest arrival is no exception, with Al Ain Zoo opening an educational centre billed as the Emirates’ first sustainable building.

The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre has just been unveiled in the sprawling wildlife park, and features five interactive galleries designed to teach visitors about the past, present and future of the country and its capital.

Displays include the Sheikh Zayed Tribute Hall, Abu Dhabi Desert Over Time, Abu Dhabi’s Living World, Looking to the Future and People of the Desert.

There’s videos, displays, culture, nature, modern architecture… just everything you’d expect from a 21st-century museum.

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“The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s strong connection with the desert contributed to the formation of his emotional and cultural heritage, and the [learning centre] reflects this unique relationship,” Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, deputy chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, said during the opening ceremony.

Aside from the edutainment, the building itself is also pretty spectacular – it’s the first to be given a Five Pearl rating by government sustainability group Estidama.

What does that mean exactly?

Well, the centre has been designed in a way to save 50 per cent on energy and water usage, while it also has a 70 per cent reduction on heat absorption from the sun (so it stays cooler without the need for extra air con).

A whopping 92 per cent of construction waste was recycled, reused or reduced too.

“The centre will teach visitors the importance of sustainability and preserving resources,” Al Ain Zoo director general Ghanim Al Hajeri told The National, saying the design “reflects the history of the desert environment and the human adaptation to this nature”.

Tickets to the zoo and the centre cost Dhs60 per adult, and Dhs40 per child – or you can throw in a safari experience too for Dhs230 per person (or Dhs1,150 per person for a private SUV).

The safari, which opened earlier this year, is the world’s largest man-made safari park, spanning 217 hectares and containing more than 250 animals.

Several critically endangered species call it home, including the oryx and the addax.

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Image: Al Ain Zoo/Facebook