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Top five museum projects in the UAE

Check out the top five museum schemes in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, including the Zayed National Museum and Museum of the Future

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library is one of the cultural projects under construction in Dubai [image: WAM].
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library is one of the cultural projects under construction in Dubai [image: WAM].
Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the public on 11 November, 2017.
Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the public on 11 November, 2017.
Museum of the Future is under construction in Dubai.
Museum of the Future is under construction in Dubai.
Etihad Museum opened its doors to the public on 7 January, 2017 [image: Dubai Media Office].
Etihad Museum opened its doors to the public on 7 January, 2017 [image: Dubai Media Office].
Zayed National Museum is being developed in Abu Dhabi.
Zayed National Museum is being developed in Abu Dhabi.
Saruq Al Hadid museum opened in Dubai's Shindagha district last year [image: dubaiculture.gov.ae].
Saruq Al Hadid museum opened in Dubai's Shindagha district last year [image: dubaiculture.gov.ae].

According to a report by Colliers International, Dubai witnessed a 127% increase in the number of visitors to its most popular museums and galleries, taking the total number to just five of the emirate’s museums to 1.75 million in 2015.

These numbers were anticipated to rise in the coming 24 months, with the opening of the Museum of The Future and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. 

Louvre Abu Dhabi, the landmark project that opened to the public this week, was also expected to boost cultural tourism in the UAE. 

The following pages outline design and construction programmes of the top five museums – operational and under construction – in the UAE. 

Louvre Abu Dhabi

The high-profile Abu Dhabi museum that opened its doors to the public on 11 November, 2017, was put through a 10-year-long development process.

In 2013, construction of the project's main phase was awarded to an Arabtec-led joint venture that included Construction San Jose SA and Oger Abu Dhabi LLC. 

IN PICTURES: Inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi

During a press tour on 7 November, Manuel Rabaté, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, shared his recollections of the building's decade-long construction scheme.

"We had some pains and some pleasures in the project," he said during a speech at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

"I remember, in 2009, for the ground breaking ceremony, we were a full delegation in the sand of Saadiyat Island and we were looking for the mathematical centre of the dome before [works] started.

"I remember when this whole place was filled with scaffolding and now the dome is floating above us," he added.

Museum of the Future

Plans to build Dubai's Museum of the Future, located in near the Emirates Towers along Sheikh Zayed Road, were revealed two years ago. 

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, unveiled the project in March 2015. 

READ: RMD Kwikform wins falsework package for Dubai’s Museum of the Future

At the time, the Ruler said the museum would be "an incubator for ideas and real designs, a driver for innovation, and a global destination for inventors and entrepreneurs". 

This October, RMD Kwikform Middle East revealed it was awarded the falsework package for Museum of the Future.

The contract was secured following a demonstration of the formwork company’s Locus Eye software, according to UAE managing director, Chris Jardine.

Architect Shaun Killa, design partner at Killa Design, was enlisted to design the torus-shaped building in 2015, and ACES Dubai was awarded the geotechnical investigation package for the project later that year.

Museum of the Future’s $212.4m (AED780m) main contract was awarded the BAM International, with the Netherlands-headquartered contractor aiming to deliver the development by mid-2019.

READ: Killa revealed as Museum Of The Future designer

The scope of ACES Dubai's geotechnical investigation included drilling boreholes with depths ranging from 40m to 80m, performing cone pentration tests (CPTs), excavating trial pits, installing piezometers, and conducting packer permeability and pressure-metre tests. 

Additionally, the company was also due to perform geophysical logging, including a multi-channel analysis of surface waves (MASW), as well as down-hole and cross-hole tests.

Etihad Museum

The UAE's $133m (AED488m) Etihad Museum was inaugurated by the country's leaders on 2 December, 2016, to mark the country's 45th National Day, and opened its doors to the public on 7 January, 2017. 

Etihad Museum's complex extends across the Union House building, a 123-meter flag pole, and a parking building with a 100-car capacity, with an additional 100 outdoor parking spots.

DESIGN FOCUS: How was the Etihad Museum engineered?

Designed by Moriyana & Teshima Architects and located next to the historic Union House on the Dubai waterfront, Etihad Museum honours the 1971 signing of the document that created the country and celebrates the culture and history of its people.

Through photos, films, documents, collections, and interactive pavilions, visitors will be taken on a journey through the UAE’s founding and growth.

Commenting on the facility's design, the Canada-based architects said: "Much of the museum is underground, including permanent and temporary galleries, theatres, event spaces, and archival facilities.

"The dramatic entrance pavilion rests lightly upon a reflecting pool and plaza, its undulating parabolic curves representing the parchment upon which the unification agreement was written and its tapering golden columns representing the pens with which the document was signed." 

Dubai-based construction group ASGC (formerly known as Al Shafar General Contracting) was awarded a $133m contract to build the project – also referred to as Union Museum – by the emirate's Roads and Transport Authority in March 2015. 

In a statement, the company said the contract win was significant, and entailed "building of eight distinct sections, each corresponding to specific historical periods or themes, in addition to all supporting facilities". 

Zayed National Museum

Zayed National Museum is one of three museum projects that are being developed within the cultural district of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, are located in the same area.

READ: Preparatory works for UAE’s Zayed National Museum complete

The development has been designed to celebrate the life of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the history and cultural transformation of the UAE.

Preparatory works for the museum have been completed, and construction works are due to commence soon, sources close to the project said this October.

Sam Graham, managing director of Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB), which provided pre-contract cost management services for the museum, told Construction Week that construction works for the development are scheduled to begin soon.

“[The project] has recently restarted, with the intent to [begin] construction and development,” Graham explained.

Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) floated a pre-qualification invitation for the project's main construction works in 2013. 

The approximate built up area of the museum was reported to be 66,198m2.

TDIC's tender for main construction works included concrete superstructure, structural steelwork and feature cladding to the 'wings', mechnical, electrical and plumbing works, vertical transportation, specialist security installation, fit-out works and external works.

Unveiled by HRH Queen Elizabeth during a state visit to the UAE in November 2010, the Zayed National Museum is one of Foster + Partners' projects in Abu Dhabi. 

Saruq Al Hadid 

Located within the Shindagha Heritage District of Dubai, the Saruq Al Hadid museum tells the story of an archaeological site discovered in the emirate. 

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, inaugurated the museum in Bur Dubai last July.

READ: Dubai Ruler inaugurates Saruq Al Hadid museum

The museum displays thousands of golden, bronze and iron pieces, discovered at the Saruq Al Hadid archaeological site in the Rub Al Khali desert, south of the emirate of Dubai. 

The museum also features fossil remains of animals and fish, in addition to ancient clay pots.

The Saruq Al Hadid site was discovered by Sheikh Mohammed while flying in a helicopter over the area when he noticed sand dunes with darker colours than their surroundings.

He returned to the area in 2002, with Emirati experts and international archaeologists, who established that it was inhabited by Arab tribes 5,000 years ago.

Commenting at the time of the museum's launch, HH Sheikh Mohammed said: "Museums reflect the culture of the nation.

"They symbolise ancient and modern civilisation of the country and a nation that has no history, has no identity."

Saruq Al Hadid is located in a building that was built in 1928, and was once owned by Sheikh Juma bin Maktoum Al Maktoum.

The house is on two floors – with the museum on the ground floor – arranged around a spacious courtyard.

It is one of the finest surviving examples of traditional architecture in Dubai, and is built with local materials such as coral stone, gypsum, and chandal wood.

 

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