It is a Friday, and the National Museum of Al Ain only opens at 3pm, so after exploring other parts of the city like one of the forts, the oasis and Hili archaeological park, I am very much looking forward to get the context of what I have seen at the museum. It is housed right next to the Sultan Zayed fort, at the eastern entrance to the oasis of Al Ain. One of the very first displays shows instruments used for circumcision rituals; apart from those, the first hall houses all kinds of traditional objects, like old sets of pens, korans in delicate calligraphy, Bedouin jewellery, traditional coffee pots, old wooden chests elaborately decorated, and a wall with black and white pictures showing the UAE in the 1960s.
The ethnographical section continues with displays with traditional weapons from the region, including some precious khanjar, or daggers, from the Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. While looking alike, they clearly have differences between them. Then, there are traditional musical instruments, household items, and traditional medicines taken from plants and spices like fenugreek, ginger, thyme, and nutmeg. I now arrive at the archaeological section of the museum, which teaches me much more about the historic sights around Al Ain than my previous visit to Hili Archaeological Park could. I see models of the tombs I have seen for real, and also many finds of Hili, and other sites around the country. There are primitive weapons, pottery, rock engravings, replicas of tombs, and much more.
Then, there is a curious section with some of the gifts Sultan Zayed received during his reign from close neighbours and far away countries: swords, a koran in pearl cover, and a golden palm tree. At the end of the museum, I see a quote from Sultan Zayed who insisted on having a National Museum: "A country without a past has neither a present nor a future". Since he considered Al Ain as the cradle of United Arab Emirates civilization (and was born in Al Ain) he considered this the best place for such a museum. To finish off my visit, I pay a brief visit to his fort, just outside in the museum compound; its architecture reminds me of the Al Jahili fort across the oasis.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Al Ain National Museum (United Arab Emirates). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Al Ain National Museum. Read more about this site.