Dubai’s Etihad Museum brings UAE’s story to life on opening day

From sounds from the past to rare images and videos, the UAE’s journey and important historic meetings, moments and influential figures from 1968 until 1974 are documented in great detail.

Faces of the Founders at the Etihad Museum in Dubai, which is now open to the public and was well received by visitors eager to learn UAE history. The National
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DUBAI // Visitors to Dubai’s stunning new Etihad Museum spoke on Saurday of how impressed they were by the elegance and spaciousness of the building that chronicles the birth of the UAE.

From sounds of the past to rare images and videos, the UAE’s journey and historic meetings, moments and influential figures from 1968 until 1974 are documented in great detail, down to what some of the Founding Fathers wore and cherished.

“We take it for granted how the UAE is the way it is today,” said Mariam Mohammed, 27, an Emirati who works as a government employee and who enjoyed the collections of the Founding Fathers’ personal items.

“So this museum helped me to see how much work and history there was behind the formation of the nation.”

Besides photos and family trees, some exhibits bring the visitors a little closer to the men who made history 45 years ago.

Sheikh Zayed’s cane is on display. Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Rashid’s glasses are there, as is an alarm clock belonging to Sharjah Ruler Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed.

From Ajman, Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid’s dagger is on display; Umm Al Quwain Ruler Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid’s watch is there as is a gun belonging to Ras Al Khaimah Ruler Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed.

From Fujairah, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad’s passport is an exhibit, hinting at how big the world was about to become for a young nation of seven emirates.

“It gave the museum a warm and human touch to have these personal items, as we would never get to see them anywhere else,” said Mrs Mohammed, from Dubai.

She vowed to go back again and take friends and cousins.

“I need to come several times to really see everything here properly as there is so much information,” she said.

Among all the historical items is a new painting, commissioned specifically for the museum, The Chef-d'Oeuvre, or masterpiece, by the Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais.

In it, he drew the map of the UAE and used his signature style of colours and calligraphy to signify different UAE-inspired themes, such as the yellow of the desert, the blue of the sea and the stalk of the palm tree.

Nadheer Abdul Kareem, from India, took his 4-year-old niece Mona with a view of helping her appreciate history and museums from an early age.

“I deliberately came on the first day,” said Mr Abdul Kareem, who works in marketing.

“It is like hot pudding, it is the best the first day it is made.

“I am really impressed by the building itself. One can walk about here for a while. It is peaceful.”

Its location is marked by a huge flag atop the 123-metre golden pole on Jumeirah Beach Road, and the museum is designed in the shape of a manuscript, inspired by the Unification Agreement, with the seven leaning columns representing the pens that signed the declaration of the constitution.

“While I knew a lot about Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid, I got to know more about the other Founding Fathers of the UAE through this museum,” Mr Abdul Kareem said.

As for Mona, it was the videos that impressed her, and the chocolate from the Seven Sands restaurant and cafe, which mainly serves Emirati cuisine.

“I really like this museum, it is different from others,” said Fadi Ahmed, 33, from Lebanon, who works for an education institution.

“It is impressive in its details and so it is a great place of research and reference for anyone interested in the past and in the present.”

Mr Ahmed particularly liked the Constitution Section, where visitors can see a copy of the original first page of the Constitution signed by the Founding Fathers, and can get to read the full book on an interactive touch screen, either in Arabic or English.

“I never thought to check the Constitution but now, since I read it, I appreciate it even more and want to go back and check the Lebanese one out of interest,” he said.

To know more about Etihad Museum, call 04 515 5771 or visit The museum will be open daily from 10am to 8pm. General admission is Dh25.