The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) has completed the latest in a series of research visits to key individuals based in the UAE who lived through the times of the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
These visits play a crucial role in shaping the content of the Zayed National Museum, as they have captured eye-witness testimonies of many events during the UAE’s formative years.
Shaikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of TCA Abu Dhabi, explained the importance of this phase of research by saying, “These research visits are taking TCA Abu Dhabi team to the heart of what the UAE and its people are all about. There is a wealth of material across the UAE and the region that will have a role to play in the Zayed National Museum. With this important work, we are now in a new phase of gathering and curating the best material for the Zayed National Museum. The material will cover not only the late Shaikh Zayed but also the country and nation that have emerged into the light as a result of his vision, his leadership and his wisdom.”
During these visits, representatives of TCA Abu Dhabi and curators from its consulting partner the British Museum were exposed to a wealth of information from across all seven emirates. The research teams gained insights into the lifestyles and origins of Emirati tribes from elders whose oral traditions have retained valuable knowledge, including stories of the beginnings of today’s ruling families.
Through working with the UAE’s historians and archaeologists, the team have discovered how humans have used available natural resources and their long-standing trading links with the wider world to survive – and sometimes prosper – for millennia in the desert, coastline, mountain and oasis regions that make up today’s UAE.
They also heard stories about Shaikh Zayed and his interactions with the people and were given access to some of his personal possessions, as well as previously unseen photos, films and video footage of him stretching back to the 1960s. In one short film clip, Shaikh Zayed is seen shortly after becoming the ruler of Abu Dhabi, with His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the current President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, standing at his father’s side as a boy.
This work builds upon the broad narratives for the new museum’s galleries that were established in 2010, and an intensive period of academic and archival research that has been conducted with the British Museum to identify specific stories for the displays. Research will now focus upon sourcing artefacts and resources to support those stories. The results of this work will provide the exhibition designers with information to develop detailed layouts for each of the Zayed National Museum’s seven permanent galleries.
Engaging and involving the audience of the United Arab Emirates is critical in shaping the Zayed National Museum as a place that celebrates Emirati culture and national identity, and the museum’s galleries will use knowledge that has been handed down through generations of the people of this land. A multi-sensory experience will take visitors on an inspiring and emotionally-moving journey that reaches back to their most distant ancestors.
The Zayed National Museum was established in the spirit of Shaikh Zayed on behalf of Emiratis and people everywhere, reflecting his renowned warmth and his strongly held values of faith, humanitarianism, education, heritage, culture, conservation and environmental sustainability.