First Published: 2017-02-13

Etihad museum tells history of UAE’s formation
External façade of muse­um is in form of folded manu­script supported internally by gold­en columns, representing fountain pens symbolising seven Emir­ates.
Middle East Online

by N.P. Krishna Kumar - DUBAI

Portraits of founding fathers

The Etihad Museum, an impressive grand struc­ture that opened in Dubai in January, tells the story of the founding of the United Arab E mirates through in­teractive exhibits and learning pro­grammes. The guiding perspective is that of the country’s founding leaders, with a key emphasis on the period 1968-74.

The external façade of the muse­um is in the form of a folded manu­script supported internally by gold­en columns, representing fountain pens symbolising the seven Emir­ates — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah — that make up the federation.

The museum complex is next to the distinctive oval-shaped Union House where the treaty establish­ing the UAE and bringing into ef­fect a temporary constitution was signed in 1971. The logo is also de­signed as a representation of the Union House and the UAE flag.

As part of the museum initiative, the original Union House, and in­ternal fixtures, curtains, carpets, table and chairs that the founding leaders used were restored.

While the famous flagpole at the end of 2nd of December Street was replaced with a slightly taller 123-metre pole, the grounds were redesigned and a symbolic shore­line was added, recreating the sea­scape of the UAE.

Another important structure that has been preserved exactly as it was in 1971 is then Dubai ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum’s ma­jlis, consisting of an elegant office, meeting hall and dining hall.

The impression that any visi­tor will take away is the simplicity and elegance of the presentation through eight permanent galleries in addition to a temporary gallery to exhibit items from international museums. In addition, there are a theatre and educational and rec­reational areas.

The pride of place is taken by the constitution; the crucial meeting between the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai on February 18th, 1968, which led to the formation of the UAE, the delays and developments on the way to unity, the lives of the seven rulers, the early develop­ment of the economic, social and cultural life of the newly formed nation, its role in strengthening Arab unity and identity and exter­nal relations with international or­ganisations.

Museum Director Abdullah Mo­hammed al-Falasi recalled how the contents of the museum were col­lected in response to an initiative by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and rul­er of Dubai. In a nationwide cam­paign launched last October under the motto Let’s Preserve the Legacy, Sheikh Mohammed offered an open invitation to the community to contribute historical items to the museum.

He said: “In response to this call, the crown princes of the seven emirates of the UAE contributed personal belongings of the found­ing fathers — intimate objects in­cluding passports, pocket watches, daggers and official seals that have previously never been on public display.

“Their belongings are a vital part of the museum’s permanent exhi­bitions and give visitors a human insight into the story of the 1971 Union Agreement.”

Falasi recalled Sheikh Moham­med emphasised that history was the most valuable treasure the country had and said the UAE lead­ership had been very generous in its support for the museum.

“We have been delighted to see the museum bringing the commu­nity together and giving all mem­bers of society a real pride and interest in their heritage,” Falasi said. “The museum also connects a young Emirati generation with their history, invites tourists to share in our heritage and will en­sure this important piece of our story is preserved for future gen­erations.

“As Etihad Museum is situated at the very place where the 1971 Union Agreement was signed, we also hope that it will become a meaningful meeting place for the nation’s citizens to come together and celebrate occasions like UAE National Day.”

The first exhibition at the mu­seum, titled Emirates to the World: Postal History from 1909 to Unifi­cation, is on display at the tempo­rary exhibition hall through April 30th. It showcases stamps, letters, artwork and archives from the pri­vate collection of Abdullah Khoory, president of Emirates Philatelic As­sociation.

The exhibitions at the venue are expected to contribute to an ac­tive research and publishing pro­gramme on the story of the union.

N.P. Krishna Kumar is an Arab Weekly correspondent in Dubai.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.


Assad in Russia for talks with Putin

Islamic republic declares end of Islamic State

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

Rare moments of joy at Arabs’ unprecedented World Cup qualifications

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail

Egypt’s Sisi to meet Lebanon’s Hariri

Israeli police arrest 33 in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Turkish lira at new low against US dollar

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues

Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

Libya to investigate 'slave auction' footage

15 women killed in food aid crush in Morocco

Lebanon FM will not attend Arab League Iran summit

Syrian forces liberate Albu Kamal from IS

Israel votes to shut migrant centre, deport Africans

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey discuss Syria

Libya to investigate ‘slave auction’ footage

Piece by piece, Iran moves towards a ‘new empire’

Netanyahu faces new questioning over corruption case

Syria troops, allies retake most of Albu Kamal from IS

EU cuts funding to Turkey in 2018 budget

Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris

Egypt opens Gaza border for first time since unity deal

US-Russia rift threatens fragile prospects for Syria peace

'Caliphate' in tatters but IS still a threat

Saudi Arabia recalls ambassador to Berlin over Gabriel Lebanon comments

Russia again vetoes renewal of Syria gas attacks probe

UN weighs bid to save Syria gas attacks probe

IS attack kills 26 displaced people in Syria

Saudi FM says Lebanon 'held hostage by Hezbollah'

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days