The Zayed National Museum is set to be designed as a monument in Abu Dhabi by the year 2021, a tribute to the country’s late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. The Saadiyat Island Cultural District has been allocated as the site of location for the Zayed National Museum’s construction and it is designed to showcase the history, rich culture and socioeconomic transformation of the Emirates world. This museum aims to blur the boundaries and serve as an important site of learning and cultural exchange for the visitors and residents of the UAE. A definite must visit if you’re looking for a sneak peek about the founding fathers of the UAE.
What is the Zayed National Museum?
Situated in the heart of the Saadiyat Island Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum is designed to tell the story of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father and first president of the UAE. The museum celebrates his life and work and aims to shine a light on the history, culture, social and economic transformation of the Emirates.
Why visit Zayed National Museum?
With permanent galleries displaying the best of national collections alongside loans from world-famous museums, Zayed National Museum is the place to be for a crystal clear understanding of the emirates history. Expect a unique experience that thoroughly engages the mind, probing it for questions and encouraging discourse, while building on the essence of the Founding Father’s personality and vision.
The highlight here is undoubtedly the core gallery of the museum - ‘Sheikh Zayed: Life and Times’ which follows the Sheikh’s journey in the unification of the UAE. Catch glimpses of photographs, national treasures, key documents, and personal effects belonging to the late ruler.
Zayed National Museum Opening Date
The Zayed National Museum is expected to open in 2021. The inaugral date has not been announced as yet, but watch out this space for more information.
Zayed National Museum’s Architecture & Design
In November 2010, the designs for the Zayed National Museum were officially unveiled by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, Prime Minister and Vice-President of the UAE and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Designed by the landscape architect Atelier Dreiseitl and Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Foster + Partners, the museum is said to have five solar thermal towers acting as chimneys. The falcon wings shaped towers are designed in a way to honor the Sheikh's love for falconry and therefore appears as the feather of a falcon. A special indoor area is dedicated to a live display of hunting birds, one of the many hobbies of the Sheikh. Each steel feather rises up to an altitude of 125 meters, comprising of a gallery showcasing the history and culture of the United Arab Emirates.
The Zayed National Museum’s architectural feat aims to blend a highly efficient, contemporary form with traditional Arabic designs and bring forth a museum that is welcoming, sustainable and culturally rich. To commemorate Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and his love for nature, the museum is set within a landscaped garden, with a timeline on defining moments of his life.
The building’s ground floor will boast 2 galleries showcasing the life of UAE founder Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, while the first floor will feature 4 pod-shaped galleries detailing the history of the country.
Zayed National Museum Galleries & Collections
Zayed National Museum's collection is touted to include the oldest pearl in the world, which was found on Marawah Island last year, as well as a necklace given by Sheikh Zayed to Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum during her visit to Abu Dhabi in 1971.
The museum consists of seven permanent galleries located at the base of each tower as well as an exclusive exhibition program where you can look into the history, heritage, and culture of the UAE. Each gallery is inspired by the ideals of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan like his belief in education, heritage, conservation and culture, all derived from his humanitarianism and deep faith in the ideals of his country and men. Here's what you can expect from each of the 7 permanent galleries at Zayed National Museum.
Sheikh Zayed: Life and Times
This gallery is the main focal point of the museum and follows Sheikh Zayed's journey in the unification of the UAE. Visitors will be introduced to an original narrative through photographs, national treasures, key documents, and personal effects belonging to the late ruler.
Falconry and Conservation Gallery
This gallery celebrates Sheikh Zayed’s passion for falconry alongside the natural world and its conservation.
Land and Water Gallery
This gallery explores the natural resources of the UAE, its cultivation, and trade.
People and Heritage Gallery
One of the most awaited galleries, this space showcases the traditional values of the UAE, which reflect its political and cultural life today. These values emphasize the importance of human relationships, warm hospitality, and living in harmony with nature.
History and Society Gallery
This gallery uses archeological evidence and historical records to charter the course of human settlement in the area, from the Stone Age to the creation of the modern state by Sheikh Zayed.
Science and Learning Gallery
This collection focuses on Sheikh Zayed’s passion for education which transformed a traditional society into a modern one where literacy and numeracy are available to all. This space also explores various Arabic disciplines of language, literature, navigation, and medicine, and the influence they have had on the world.
Faith and Islam Gallery
This gallery sheds light on the role of faith in Sheikh Zayed’s life, which ultimately drove his humanitarianism and vision for the future of the nation.----
The museum also flaunts a collection of different spaces for performances. You’ll find a colossal auditorium lined with a variety of Emirati textiles, providing an evocative space for films and presentations. Make sure you don’t miss a show here if it coincides with your visit!
The lobby area covers more informal spaces for a variety of cafes, shops, and venues for music, dance and poetry readings. Round up in a circle and enjoy the atmosphere and extravaganza of traditional performances. You’ll feel like an Arab in the yesteryears.
The restaurant’s interior design draws the opulence and warmth of the Bedouin tent, with tastefully designed furnishings. The VIP spaces open onto a beautiful central courtyard, offering you a breathtaking view of the wind towers and museum in the foreground.
The Sheikh Zayed Library Zayed
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan was a man of wide learning and great wisdom, and to commemorate his love for books and learning, the Zayed National Museum will house a state of the art library within the museum. This particular educational attraction will offer a platform for visitors to deep-dive into historical resources.
Zayed National Museum Tickets
Tickets for Zayed National Museum Abu Dhabi is not on sale yet. Check here for updated information.
Zayed National Museum Location
The Zayed National Museum which is being constructed on Saadiyat Island Cultural District is located 500 meters off the Abu Dhabi coastline and is the single largest multipurpose development in the Gulf. Seven districts have been arranged in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District which will also include the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a Performing Arts Center and Maritime Museum as well as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum. This development for the UAE is significant because this is the only place in the Middle East where the history of the entire region can be examined and it is very important that it is applicable for a proper understanding of the region’s history be made accessible for the public.
Directions to Zayed National Museum
Visitors can opt for public transport by bus or any other available options that are suitable public transportation alternatives that can be used to get to the museum. The transit lines that have routes that pass near the museum are Bus - 103, Bus - 11 and Bus - 56.
It is a 20-minute drive from the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and a half an hour drive from the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Zayed National Museum Timings
Estimated opening hours: 9 AM to 6 PM. As the museum is still under construction, the ticket prices, opening date, and proper timings are yet to be announced.
Best time to visit Zayed National Museum
Like with most museums in the city, it is best to avoid visiting on weekends to stay away from crowds. For a comfortable experience, it is recommended you visit the museum in the mornings as soon as the museum opens. This way you can spend 3-4 hours at the museum and explore all of its offerings - from the galleries to the library and fine-dining restaurant.
- While planning a trip to the Zayed National Museum, visitors can also visit the Corniche.
- Guests may take around 30 minutes to explore the Zayed National Museum.
- It is a 7 minute drive and a 9 minute walk to the Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi which is situated amidst the Saadiyat Cultural District.
- There is also an option to visit a theatre within an art gallery in the locality named Manarat Al Saadiyat.
Things to do near Zayed National Museum
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a artistic treasure trove, with twenty galleries that take you through twelve chronological chapters as you travel through centuries of world civilization. As the largest art and culture museum of its kind in the Arab world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was conceptualised to embody the similarities that cut across centuries and traditions in different parts of the world.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a museum of modern and contemporary art is all set to showcase the most important international artistic achievements of the 20th and 21st centuries. Expected to open in 2022, the collection at Guggenheim will feature works of artists from across the globe in a variety of mediums produced since the 1960s.
Manarat Al Saadiyat is the place and space in Abu Dhabi for art, cultural activities and community events; for all kinds of creative artistic expression. It was built with an aim to create a vibrant, experimental community where one can be part of a cultural experience that is inspired by diverse public programmes including exhibitions - from both international and UAE artists.
The NYUAD Art Gallery is an intimate museum space in a university setting. Modeled on the academic museums of the US, the curatorial program explores locally relevant and internationally significant subjects. This model of scholarly, experimental, non-commercial art exhibitions complements and enhances the region’s fast-growing cultural ecosystem.
FAQS - Zayed National Museum
The museum is still under construction, but is scheduled to open in 2021. The exact date for opening is yet to be announced.
The Zayed National Museum is located on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 30642
The tentative timings are between 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
The museum was designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Lord Norman Foster.
Zayed National Museum tickets are not available to purchase online just yet, but will appear closer to its opening date.
Headout offers discounts on most attractions in Abu Dhabi. Check back here for discounts, once the tickets go on sale.
Yes, you can purchase same-day tickets to Zayed National Museum from Headout.
Ticket prices will be announced on the official website upon completion of the project.
The museum is expected to house a café, bookstore, information desk, areas to meet and rest, VIP areas, education facilities, conference rooms, a library, and a fine-dining restaurant.