Dr Ahmad Khoori, Project Manager at Abu Dhabi Company of Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) with his antique collection at his residence in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Abu Dhabi: His home is crammed with historical artifacts from all over the world. They are stacked in the hallway, on walls, in numerous glass cabinets and countless boxes.

Ranging from Alexander the Great's coins to Japanese wall hangings to Indian jewellery, European helmets and everything in between, it seems that there is almost nothing that is not a part of Dr Ahmad Khoori's collection.

"I started collecting stamps and coins in the early sixties…I was inspired by a couple that owned a restaurant behind my home, where I would go regularly. They would show me their stamp collection, talk about it and that sparked my interest," the Project Manager at the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco), said.

But it was a chance encounter at the organisation that solidified the then young Emirati's passion about history.

"I joined Adco in 1967 and at that time there were many British lecturers but there was one who really had an impact on me. He told us that there were a lot of historical places in the UAE, such as Umm Al Nar, which is approximately 3,000 years old.

That captured my interest and when Adco sent me to the UK in August 1972, I couldn't get enough of the museums. Two years later, I found myself travelling to France and Egypt to see what their museums had to offer and was impressed by their collections," Dr Khoori said. "In 1977, I finished my Masters degree and came back to the UAE, determined to start my own collection," he added.

Many years and over 6,000 pieces later, Ahmad seems closer than ever to reaching his goal of amassing a comprehensive, multi-cultural collection.

"While one of the oldest items I own is from 3,000 BC, one item I am most proud to own is a document that is 115 years old. It is a marriage certificate of Shaikh Zayed the First. It is very well preserved, and you can still read the intricate calligraphy that describes everything about the event. He was a very wise man, going even against his family if it meant doing something for the greater good," he said.

Even as he maintains his passion by travelling to various locations around the world, and even to neighbouring Oman, Dr Khoori admits that sometimes his family is not too happy about his constant travels and new additions.

"My family isn't very keen about my collection…they think I spend a lot of money on acquiring these artifacts. For me, it's like an addiction, but not a very bad one because these items never lose their value," he said.

But the avid collector does not intend to keep his acquisitions in his home, where they compete with each other for space and the admiring glances of visitors.

"I hope to be able to purchase a piece of land after I retire to build a private museum to house everything properly, or maybe I could put my collection in a section of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi or the Shaikh Zayed Museum once they are completed on Saadiyat Island," Dr Khoori said.