The best way to understand the history, culture and social fabric of any country is to visit its museums.
These great institutions house not only the artwork and cultural artefacts of a country but also their values and vision.
Here is a roundup of 12 museums to check out in the UAE.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi is a must-see for all residents of the UAE and those visiting the country.
Not only is the museum a striking architectural structure but it also houses, in its permanent and temporary exhibitions, a stunning array of artworks and relics from the region and all across the globe.
More information is available at louvreabudhabi.ae
Museum of the Future
An architectural and engineering marvel, the Museum of the Future aims to present a vision of time to come, rooted in the UAE's culture and traditions.
The building’s circular shape represents humanity, with a stunning facade adorned with Arabic calligraphy created from poetry by the UAE's Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid.
The museum houses various exhibitions and immersive concepts on each of its seven floors. These span space travel, climate change, technological advancement and other themes concerned with futuristic technologies and ideas. They also include digital and immersive elements created by a number of designers, artists and filmmakers.
More information is available at museumofthefuture.ae
Al Shindagha Museum
Located in the Dubai Creek area, the museum offers a glimpse into the city's humble origins, as well as many facets of Emirati culture.
More information is available at alshindagha.dubaiculture.gov.ae
Sharjah Art Museum
Large, atmospheric spaces make up the galleries spread across the traditional structure of Sharjah Art Museum.
Visitors can explore more than 500 varied works across a diverse range of mediums and techniques.
The three-storey museum also houses The Art Library, which has more than 4,000 titles in Arabic, English and other languages, as well as visual and audio materials.
More information is available at sharjahartmuseum.ae
Al Ain Palace Museum
Al Ain Palace Museum was first built in 1937 as the residence of the UAE’s ruling family.
The structure was renovated and converted into a museum in 2001, and has since become an important cultural and historical site.
Visitors can experience the Emirati way of life during the 20th century and learn more about the private and political lives of the ruling family, particularly of UAE Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed.
More information is available at abudhabiculture.ae
Located on the corner of Al Wasl Road and 2nd December Street – a vibrant area in Dubai where the UAE’s constitution was signed in 1971 – the Etihad Museum chronicles the country’s past.
Through thoughtful and interactive exhibitions, which include photos, films, personal belongings, artefacts and more, visitors can explore how the country has developed over the years, especially between 1968 and 1974 − before the seven emirates unified under one flag.
More information is available at etihadmuseum.dubaiculture.gov.ae
National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah is one of the few locations in the UAE that has been continuously inhabited throughout history.
As an homage to the emirate’s long and rich history, the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah houses a collection of archaeological and ethnological artefacts, documenting the region’s past.
The National Museum includes a traditional fort whose foundation dates back to 1809, and is constructed from coral blocks and stone, like many other traditional houses in Ras Al Khaimah.
More information is available at rakheritage.rak.ae/en
Jameel Arts Centre
Located at Jaddaf Waterfront along Dubai Creek, Jameel Arts Centre is dedicated to celebrating contemporary art and engaging communities through exhibitions, education and events.
Showcasing contemporary art from the Middle East and South Asia, the centre aims to develop a sustainable arts ecosystem in the UAE.
More information is available at jameelartscentre.org
Sharjah Science Museum
With more than 50 interactive exhibitions on show, the whole family can learn about science in an entertaining atmosphere at the Sharjah Science Museum.
From learning about the laws of nature and thermal physics, to taking part in electricity demonstrations and exploring the mysteries of space, the museum aims to immerse visitors in the world of science.
More information is available at sharjahmuseums.ae
Emirates National Auto Museum
For car lovers and motorheads, the Emirates National Auto Museum is a must.
The pyramid-shaped car museum located in Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, exhibits more than 200 cars owned by Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan. The unique collection of motors includes off-road vehicles, classic American cars and Sheikh Hamad's rainbow Mercedes collection.
More information is available at enam.ae
Staging an array of meticulously curated contemporary and historic exhibitions, Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Foundation is an important institution.
It not only showcases art, but also preserves and highlights the region's cultural heritage.
Located in the heart of the capital, the foundation hosts a number of regular events, including concerts, lectures, films and art workshops.
More information is available at culturalfoundation.ae
Hisn Khor Fakkan
The space is a permanent highlight at the Resistance Monument. With antiques, dioramas, models of old ships and AR, it tells the story of how the Sharjah enclave took a stand against the Portuguese invasion in 1507.
The port city was captured and became part of a series of fortified cities that the Portuguese used to control access to the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. However, the local resistance against the colonising army has become an esteemed pocket of Khor Fakkan’s history.
The museum's themes are represented through photographs, artefacts, 3D models, technology stories, as well as the design of the building itself.
More information is available at www.sharjahmuseums.ae