If you have always wanted to explore the origins of Al Ain and how it evolved into this charming city, pay a visit to the Al Ain National Museum. Unlike the Al Ain Palace Museum, which depicts the cultural aspects of the capital city, this museum houses artefacts and exhibits that date from the Stone Age up to the formation of the UAE. From historical displays to ticket prices and more, here is everything you need to know about the Al Ain National Museum.
About the Al Ain National Museum
The Al Ain National Museum is the oldest in the United Arab Emirates and was founded in 1969 under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It was officially inaugurated in 1971 by His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan.
Al Ain National Museum in the past
Before the museum was moved to its current building, it was housed in the Sultan Fort. The structure is located near the Al Ain Oasis. The mudbrick structure features a gate on its southern side and towers at three of its corners. The well-preserved structure is now one of the museum’s major attractions.
The museum has two sections
The museum’s main displays were discovered via oil exploration activities in the region during the 1950s at these archaeological sites:
- Hafeet Mountain
- Al Hili
- Bida Bint Saud
- Umm an-Nar Island
The Al Ain National Museum was founded to preserve the findings that were excavated from the mentioned sites. The Bida Bin Saud site, for example, is one of the UNESCO Heritage sites in the UAE.
The museum is divided into three main sections. These include an Archaeology, Ethnography and a Gifts gallery.
The Archaeology department at the Al Ain National Museum features exhibits in chronological order — starting with the Stone Age. This is followed by the displays that showcase the region as it was during the Bronze Age, Hellenistic eras and finally during the Islamic ages.
An example is the imported 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian pots that were originally found in tombs excavated in Jebel Hafeet. Additionally, the museum also exhibits the rise of the Bronze Age when large mudbrick structures were built in Hili nearly 4,500 years ago. One of the features of this ancient society also included several tombs built above ground. An example is the famous Grand Tomb located in the Hili Archaeological Park, which is also one of the archaeological sites in the UAE. Many objects from these tombs are on display in the Al Ain National Museum.
Apart from these, pottery from the Iron Age dating back 3,000 years is also displayed in the Archaeology department. These vessels are from a time when the Falaj irrigation system was primarily used to supply water to crops.
This section also houses ancient jewellery that was found in a tomb in Al Qattara, as well as several bronze and copper weapons. The tools give visitors a rare glimpse into copper mining and bronze work during the era.
The Ethnography department at the Al Ain National Museum illustrates the life of the region’s inhabitants before the discovery of oil in the UAE. This section highlights the different phases of life of a typical resident during that time, such as birth, education, marriage and work life. Apart from a collection of historical manuscripts, cosmetics and traditional clothing, the department also preserves old copies of the Holy Quran.
The Gifts section at the Al Ain National Museum displays several works of art which were given as gifts to the country. A popular item in this section is a Moon rock that was presented as a gift by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) following the historic Apollo 17 moon landing.
Furthermore, the gallery also features silver daggers, gold swords, a golden ship, guns and other precious gifts that were bestowed to His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan by the ambassadors and presidents of different countries.
Apart from these, the impressive collection includes gifts presented by Arab sister states. Several metallic objects, glassware, pottery and porcelain objects that date back to the Mamluk era are also on display in the Gifts department.
Other than the mentioned departments, the museum also features an Oil Gallery that displays images depicting the country’s heritage treasures and the first days after the discovery of oil.
Details for visits to the Al Ain National Museum
If you are planning to visit the museum with your family, here are the Al Ain National Museum timings, ticket price and other details that you must be aware of.
What is the Al Ain National Museum ticket price?
Here are details about the Al Ain National Museum entrance fee:
- Adults: AED 3
- Children under 10: AED 2
What are the Al Ain National Museum opening hours?
You can visit the museum during these hours:
- Saturday to Thursday: 08:30 am to 07:30 pm
- Monday: Closed
- Friday: 03:30 pm to 07:30 pm
Where is the Al Ain National Museum located?
The Al Ain National Museum lies at the heart of Al Ain city in Al Murabba neighbourhood on Sheikh Zayed Road.
We hope our overview of the Al Ain National Museum will help you plan ahead and make the most of your visit. If you have visited this popular cultural attraction, tell us about your experience in the comments below!
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