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Etihad Museum in Dubai: Learn how the Emirates was born

Located next to the historic Union House on the Dubai waterfront, the Etihad Museum (the Union Museum) celebrates the rich culture and history of its people. From an architectural perspective, this museum is stunning. The outside shell is slick, nicely designed with smooth lines and nice curves. Much of the museum is underground, including permanent and temporary galleries, and spaces for events. The entrance pavilion rests lightly upon a reflecting pool and plaza, its undulating parabolic curves representing the parchment upon which the unification agreement was written and its tapering golden columns representing the pens with which the document was signed.

The Etihad Museum focuses on historic turning points which took place in the years leading to the unification of the UAE (from 1968 until 1974). There are 10 exhibitions in the museum:

In Section 1, “The Founders”, visitors can have a look at the portraits of all the Founding Fathers of the UAE. Each picture is accompanied by an interactive screen that illustrates their biographies. There are also some of their belongings on display. 

In Section 2, “Dreams of Unity”, a special effects display with the help of imagery and music summarise the story of the Union and other significant events which happened during the UAE’s foundation.

Before the unification, the country consisted of the Trucial States. Section 3, “UAE Interactive Map”, offers a panoramic view of the country before the emirates were united. Visitors can also activate videos and audios which tell about key events in the history of UAE.

Section 4, “The Early Years”, is presented by an interactive screen with videos and audio showcasing the negotiations that were conducted with the Arab and foreign countries.​

In Section 5, “Road to Unification”, visitors see all the major steps that were made in the foundation of the UAE. The series of them are depicted as an illustration of an irrigation canal, which is chronologically divided into three sections, each with information about historical events.

In Section 6, “Seeds of Unity”, a 3D visual displays how Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan meets fellow leader, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum at Sayh Al-Sadira. 

In Section 7, “Change and Unification”, visitors are offered to play a game. They need to decipher the encrypted messages by aligning cubes with the interactive screens in the room. Each of these cubes represents a unique theme and reveals information relating to that theme.

In Section 8, “Unifying the Emirates”, one can learn about the challenges the founding fathers faced before 1971.

In Section 9, the UAE’s constitution, signed by the Founding Governors, is displayed. There’s the Treaty of Friendship between the UAE and the United Kingdom signed by Sheikh Zayed on the same day he announced the establishment of the Federation of the United Arab Emirates.

Section 10, “United Arab Emirates”, has interactive screens with educational information: here, museum-goers can gain interesting insights such as the development of the unified UAE passports. 

The Etihad Museum also houses some other attractions. There are the Union House, Union Flag and the Guest Palace outside the museum. Each of them reflects an important piece of the UAE’s history.

The Union House is the birthplace of the UAE and The Union Flag is where the Founding Governors gathered after signing the treaty. The Guest Palace houses Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s Majlis, his private office and a dining room.

To get more information and buy tickets, please visit the official webpage of the Museum.

You may also be interested in visiting the fort Qasr al Muwaiji and the Hatta Heritage Village, an open-air historical museum.

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