Every now and again, the United Arab Emirates reveals its layers of history, culture, and art through an array of unique and specialty museums. From the contemporary artworks at the Louvre Abu Dhabi to the long-forgotten artifacts at Al Taiba Heritage Museum, the museums I’m about to cover offer a window into the soul of the UAE.

Here’s a look at seven standout museums across the Emirates which are a must-visit.

The Top 7 Unique and Specialty Museums in the UAE

  1. The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah – Ras Al Khaimah
  2. Museum of the Future – Dubai
  3. Louvre Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi
  4. Sharjah Art Museum – Sharjah
  5. Umm Al Quwain Museum – Umm Al Quwain
  6. Ajman Museum – Ajman
  7. Al Jazeera Al Hamra – Ras Al Khaimah

1. The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah – Ras Al Khaimah

Location: Al Hisn Rd, Old Ras Al Khaimah, Ras Al Khaimah

Operating hours: 9 AM – 5 PM (Closed on Mondays)

The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah is a treasure trove that showcases the rich history of the Middle East through archaeological and ethnological artifacts. You’ll find it in the western part of Ras Al Khaimah, celebrating the region’s ancient origins that date back to 5000 BC.

Visitors have the opportunity to see over 1,000 archaeological sites and antiquities which is why it’s one of the most significant museums in the entire UAE.

Highlights:

  • Jewish gravestone of a man named David, dated between 1507 and 1650.
  • Tamra exhibition that focuses on the cultural importance of the date palm tree.

Ticket prices: AED 3 (Adults), AED 2 (Children)

2. Museum of the Future – Dubai

Location: 67CP+H4Q, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Trade Centre, Trade Centre 2, Dubai

Operating hours: 9:30 AM – 8:30 PM

The Museum of the Future is dedicated to exploring the future and all its possibilities. Designed to embody the museum’s philosophy, the building pushes the limits of architecture and technology. Exhibits are spread across five floors and include themes like climate change, ecology, health, wellness, spirituality, imagination, and space travel.

If it’s too busy when you visit, Al Shindagha Museum and Perfume House (located in the museum), which opened on the shores of Dubai Creek in 2019, and the Etihad Museum make great alternatives.

Highlights:

  • Interactive exhibitions like Journey To The Future.
  • Hub of research and innovation.

Ticket prices: AED 149

3. Louvre Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi

Location: Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi

Operating hours: 10 AM – 6:30 PM (TUES – THURS), 10 AM – 8:30 PM (FRI – SUN), Closed on Mondays

With options like Al Ain Palace Museum and the Emirates National Auto Museum, choosing a museum in this city isn’t easy. Plus, there’s also Guggenheim Abu Dhabi coming up. But, for now, I think the Louvre Abu Dhabi is your best option. This groundbreaking museum opened its doors in 2017 following a unique partnership between France and the UAE.

It showcases a diverse collection, spanning prehistoric times to the present day, boasting old and contemporary art from various regions. One of the museum’s greatest draws is its architecture which features a unique dome with 7,850 metal stars.

If the Louvre doesn’t quite do it for you, consider paying the Cultural Foundation of Abu Dhabi a visit. The Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation has a state-of-the-art library and highly creative learning programs.

Highlights:

  • Unique architecture, designed by Jean Nouvel.
  • Universal narrative.

Ticket prices: Free – AED 60

4. Sharjah Art Museum – Sharjah

Location: Sharjah Art Museum, Al Shuwaiheen, Sharjah

Operating hours: 8 AM – 8 PM (SUN – THURS), 4 PM – 8 PM (FRI), 9 AM – 8 PM (SAT)

The Sharjah Art Museum boasts a truly impressive art library, which is why it has been an invaluable cultural collection in the UAE since 1997. Visitors can explore exhibitions by acclaimed artists like Abdulqader Al Rais, Louay Kayali, and Faiq Hassan, giving you a good idea of the region’s artistic heritage. It also hosts numerous exhibitions and educational events.

Highlights:

  • Contemporary Arab art collection.
  • Barjeel Art Foundation Exhibition.
  • Art workshops and international collaborations.

Ticket prices: Free

5. Umm Al Quwain Museum – Umm Al Quwain

Location: Old Umm Al Quwain, Umm Al Quwain

Operating hours: 7 AM – 8 PM (SUN – THURS); 8 AM – 12 PM and 2 PM – 8 PM (FRI)

The Umm Al Quwain Museum, otherwise known as UAQ National Museum, is another one of the UAE’s key cultural institutions. Situated in an old fort, this museum was established by Sheikh Rashid bin Majid Al Mualla to showcase various aspects of Emirati culture. Exhibits range from royal family heritage to traditional professions.

Highlights:

  • Features archaeological finds from Ed Dur and Tel Abraq.

Ticket prices: AED 5 (Adults), Free for children (0-14)

6. Ajman Museum – Ajman

Location: CC7W+96Q, Al Bustan, Street 1, Ajman

Operating hours: 8 AM – 8 PM (SAT – THURS), 2:30 PM – 8 PM (FRI)

Located inside the historic Ajman Fort which used to serve as a stronghold, ruler’s palace, and police station, this national museum offers an enthralling journey through the history of Ajman. Various sections showcase the region’s past through archaeology, manuscripts, traditional costumes, souvenirs, and more.

Highlights:

  • Pearl fishing heritage section.
  • Traditional Emirati architecture.

Ticket prices: AED 5 (Adults), AED 15 (Families), AED 1 (School students)

7. Al Jazeera Al Hamra – Ras Al Khaimah

Location: Al Jazeera Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah

Operating hours: 9 AM – 5 PM (Closed on Mondays)

Al Jazeera Al Hamra, although not a traditional museum, houses a great deal of historical significance. It preserves traditional elements such as a fort, watchtowers, mosque, and souq. It also has courtyard houses built with local materials. It was made using coral blocks, fossilized beach rock, mangrove tree beams, and other indigenous materials, offering a glimpse into the region’s heritage.

Highlights:

  • Architectural authenticity.
  • Cultural preservation.

Ticket prices: Free entry

FAQs

Do UAE’s museums offer guided tours?

Yes, the vast majority of UAE museums offer guided tours as part of the experience. You’ll often find these tours available in multiple languages and accommodative of various age groups and preferences.

Are there any car museums in the UAE?

Indeed, the UAE is home to various museums tailored to car lovers. Two notable options include the Emirates National Museum and the Sharjah Classic Cars Museum, the latter of which provides a great opportunity to see some classic American cars.

Is there a best time of year to visit museums in the UAE?

The UAE is busiest during the winter months, from December to March, so you might want to consider avoiding this time. Also, stats have shown that tourism in the UAE is steadily increasing, so it may be better to consider prioritizing less-frequented Emirates like Ras Al Khaimah.

Final Thoughts

These museums offer a much-needed glimpse into the nation’s history, culture, and innovation, so be sure to add them to your to-do list. Remember to check photography policies, consider visiting during cooler months, and opt for a guided tour for an enriched experience.

 

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