Take a step back to discover Dubai’s recent history, a young country built on a proud heritage
What to expect at Etihad Museum
Etihad Museum is a museum focused on the contemporary history of the UAE. Packed full of documentary films, photographs and artefacts along with interactive displays which lead us from the trucial states to the United Arab Emirates as we know them today.
A short history of the UAE
The museum sets out through interactive displays and memorabilia the historic milestones leading up to the Unification of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 and a homage to the country’s seven founding fathers.
The primary focus of the Etihad musuem is the era from 1968 to 1974 during the country’s crucial years on the road to unification.
The Etihad Museum – what’s inside
Spread over 25,000sqm, the museum is located on the same historical site of the Union House, the very place where the constitution was signed in 1971.
Housed in a magnificent new building located near Port Rashid, Etihad Museum offers a series of interactive pavilions where visitors can explore the UAE’s history. The museum was inaugurated on the country’s 45th anniversary, 2 December 2016.
The museum grounds consist of a visitors pavilion, Union House and the Guest Palace. Much of the collection is underground with permanent and temporary exhibits on offer, as well as a theatre, a library and educational areas.
Part of the splendour of the museum is the building itself. The unique curved white roof of the museum was inspired by the shape of the constitution – it resembles a folded manuscript. The building is adorned with seven gold columns, which symbolise the pens used to sign the agreement. The visitors’ Pavillion was designed by Canadian architects Moriyama and Teshima.
You first arrive in the Founding Father’s Hall where you can learn more about each of the Sheikhs from the seven Emirates of the UAE, with family trees and artefacts. Through a series of documentary films, photos and artefacts you re then stepped back in time to the 1950s when oil was first discovered and onwards to the withdrawal of the British in 1968.
Your journey continues through the historical milestones in the years leading up to and immediately following unification. The Trucial states are discussed in detail through news clipping and photographs, including how Bahrain and Qatar came to be (though I felt it was a little mute on why Ras Al Khaimah didn’t join the union as the 7th Emirate until 1972 – you’ll see here just six of the Founding Fathers in December 1971 – logos subsequently shown of the occasion depict all seven leaders).
Union House & flag pole
The historical significance of the location is that the museum is built on the exact site of the signing of the Unification. This incredibly humble round building is most-oft completely neglected off most tourists’ itineraries but is a hugely significant landmark building in terms of the UAE’s history.
We understand free tours are available around Union house, however, at the time of our last visit there did not seem to be running, it might be by appointment only, or only when they have a group booking or school group.
Adjacent you will fing the impressive 123 metre tall flag pole on which the UAE flag was first raised.
Entry Costs for Etihad Museum
- Adult: 25 AED
- Group: 20 AED
- Student: 10 AED (aged 5 to 24)
- People of Determination: Free
- Child : Free (under 5)
The website is sadly not kept very well up to date with current events and workshops, it may be best to call or email in advance to see if there are any special events or exhibits planned to coincide with your visit (staff will speak both English & Arabic).
Phone: 800 33 222
What is the best time to visit Etihad Museum
The Etihad Museum is open Daily 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last entry 4:00 PM)
There is no busy time of day for the Etihad Museum, it is a quiet and less frequented Dubai attraction. The only thing you may want to be mindful of is any formal events or VIP visits that may be happening on any given day.
They have added daily guided tours to their schedule at 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.
Do note, during local school term time you are likely to encounter school groups from roughly opening until 2:00 pm in the afternoon, you may wish to avoid these times as independent travellers
How to get to Etihad Museum
Etihad Musem is in the Port Rashid area of the city, on Jumeirah Road. You will find it adjacent to the end of 2 December Street, which runs all the way through to the World Trade Centre Roundabout.
Slightly off the normal tourist trail, there are no direct public transport links however a taxi should have no problem dropping you off (they may better recognise if you say Union House rather than Etihad Museum, depending on how new they are to the city!)
So is Etihad Museum worth a stop?
I’ll be honest, from a residents point of view, it may be visually beautiful, but not the most exciting of Dubai’s museum. Being such recent history, I think the museum lacks depth and detail that goes further into the country’s past. A beautifully crafted story and journey with stat-of-the-art modern displays, but I felt missing so many parts of the story that would intrigue outsiders to the region.
For a visitor who is new to the history of the Emirates, you will certainly find it an educational experience though, the ticket price won’t break the bank. Its importance as the birthplace of the Emirates is something every Emirati and expat alike should experience at some time during their stay in the country.
Frequently asked questions for visiting Etihad Museum
Yes, there’s an underground car park for visitors – don’t be concerned in the car park looks empty when you pull up! The building is most likely open, just cars parked underneath out of sight.
Yes, there’s a small cafe inside of the Museum.
Sitting in the Port Rashid area of the city, you are quite isolated in terms of attractions within walking distance, but by car only minutes away from the beachfront area of the city La Mer, an extensive outdoor entertainment venue. It would be walking distance away in the cooler winter months.
There’s an extensive collection of museums to enjoy in Dubai. Many are found in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, though there are several locations across the city, and the wider Emirates that go into more depth on the various aspects of the Emirati culture and history.
We have a complete guide to Dubai Museums here.
It has a very quiet ambience to be mindful of. Although there are some fun interactive displays, we would not recommend Etihad Museum when travelling with small children. School-aged children who are learning about the Emirates, however, will find this a good educational outing.
“Etihad” simply means Union, or coming together in Arabic, so make no mistake it’s not connected to the UAE’s national carrier based in Abu Dhabi!
As at the time of our last visit (post-Covid) the museum was operating slightly limited hours of 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
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