DUBAI (Rym Ghazal – The National) - The site once known as Union House, or Dar Al Etihad, reopens to the public on Saturday as the Etihad Museum
, a much bigger structure where the story of the birth of the UAE is told.
"The Etihad Museum tells the story of our Founding Fathers and our journey in the UAE," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Inaugurated by Sheikh Mohammed on December 2 in celebration of the 45th National Day and visited by Rulers from other emirates on that day, the museum is run by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and focuses on the political history and personal stories that led to the unification of the seven emirates.
"Our shared duty towards our country is to contribute to the documentation of this historical milestone, which marks the very beginning of the UAE’s glorious march towards progress. In addition, we should collectively support the effort to showcase historical objects related to the establishment of the Union of the United Arab Emirates," Sheikh Mohammed was reported by state news agency Wam as saying.
Through photos, films, documents and interactive pavilions, visitors will be taken on a journey from 1968 until 1974, a critical phase in the foundation of the UAE.
From old passports to personal artefacts such as rings, eyeglasses and pocket watches, stamps and letters and other rare items are on display for the public to add dimensions to the story of the UAE.
Its location is marked by a huge UAE flag atop the 123-metre golden pole on Jumeirah Beach Road, and the restored oval-shaped Union House – where in 1971 the emirates’ Rulers signed a declaration that marked the formation of the UAE – is now part of the museum complex. Even the logo of the museum is inspired by the shape of Union House.
Spread over an area of 25,000 square metres, Etihad 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 in 1971.
It was designed by Moriyama and Teshima Architects, a Canadian firm that has worked on The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener, Ontario.
The museum includes permanent and temporary halls, a theatre, an educational area, a recreational area, interactive maps and videos, administrative offices and parking. There are also interactive programmes that educate visitors on the nation’s constitution, in particular the rights, privileges and responsibilities that it bestows upon the people of the UAE.
The halls have different themes, with one of them dedicated to the Founding Fathers, where visitors will get a chance to really know the story of each of them through their photos, belongings and interactive screens that provide historical information about their biographies and family trees.
The museum is also connected to The Guest House, one of the famous historic buildings in Dubai, where Rulers met before the signing. It was restored in 1971 and, inside, there is the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Majlis, his private office and a dining room with seating for 300 people.
"The new Etihad Museum team has a responsibility to help inspire citizens and visitors from around the world, and ensure that exhibits not only convey the founding story of the United Arab Emirates but also that the status of the museum is consolidated as a reliable source of historical and national information and heritage," said Saeed Al Nabouda, acting director general of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
"The museum will be an essential destination for researchers and historians, and will provide future generations in the UAE with valuable knowledge to support their academic and social life, as well as boosting their national identity."