The United Arab Emirates are a place that most tourists wish to visit due to its scintillating splendour and aura of classiness. Its cultural establishments directly reflect this image and for this particular reason, we are going to look at some of the best of them. If you’ve had your share of the beaches and the grandiose shopping malls, be sure to leave a few bucks for some cultural enhancement (wink). So, let’s dive right into it!
1. Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum:
If you happen to find yourself in Al Ain, the Garden City of the Emirates (located within the bounds of the Abu Dhabi Emirate), make sure you visit the renowned Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum for it is simply fabulous. Harboured by the majestic palace of the former president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the museum was opened in 1998 in the largest oasis of the city, the Al Ain Oasis. Most rooms of the palace are open to the public and another section houses an art gallery as well. Some of these rooms represent areas for gathering (called majlis), councils and they are as inviting as they can get (they flawlessly reflect one of the most prominent qualities of the Arabic people: hospitality). Since Sheikh Zayed has often been affiliated with Bedouin communities, a Land Rover resembling the one that he used to drive also decorates the premises of the museum (he used to visit these communities with it). Oh, and do not forget to bask in the brilliance of his portrait!
2. Dubai Museum:
We could not have excluded the pride of Dubai from this list for it is so probably the most visited cultural establishment of the Emirates (around 1 million visitors each year). Located within the bounds of the Al Fahidi Fort erected in 1787 (the oldest building in Dubai), it was opened in 1971 and dedicated to the history of the local Emirate. Filled with mannequins and stalls from days long gone, the establishment principally strives to revive the way people lived in the 1800s. One of the most prominent attractions of the museum is the Dhow replica (a sailboat used primarily to navigate upon the Red Sea). It is located just outside the museum and it boosts the allure of the place. Oh, and let us not forget about the traditional arish (an Arabic summer house) and its wind tower (an intricate cooling system used by the Arabic people back in the nineteenth century). If you wish to delve deeper into the local culture and their way of life, there really is no better place for you than the Dubai Museum.
3. Sharjah Art Museum:
Sharjah is the third largest and third most populous city of the United Arab Emirates. Thus, it is only fitting that it should have a brilliant art museum of its own. So, the inevitable has come true: the Sharjah Art Museum was inaugurated at the third Sharjah International Arts Biennial in 1997. Its collection consists mostly of works from Middle Eastern artists and contemporary artists from the Emirates. With a total exhibition space of 111,000 square metres, it can not only boast with an underground parking lot but it is also the centrepiece of the Art Area of Sharjah. A large chunk of the Permanent Collections section was donated by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the ruler of the Sharjah Emirate. The collections are divided into 8 distinct groups and they are all listed as Group-1, Group-2 and so on. There is, however, a local and international exhibition section where you can find interactive workshops as well. Be sure to scout around for sources of fun there for, we assure you, there are plenty.
To be sure that you are respecting the local customs and their way of life, we recommend that you read two other articles from our website. First, take a glance at the “11 Things to Know before Travelling to Muslim Countries” entry and then the “Visit Dubai – The Oasis of Luxury” one. These will give you some more insight as to what you can do and what you should not. Always strive to respect the people of the country that you are visiting and you shall be rewarded with nothing but hospitality, love and compassion.
Did you enjoy our list? How many of the aforementioned establishments have you visited and how many of them are still on your bucket list? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back for some interesting updates! Safe travels!