The Zayed National Museum will reflect Shaikh Zayed’s love for the environment, sustainability and the UAE’s heritage. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The towering feather-shaped Zayed National Museum is expected to be not only a symbol of the UAE's national identity and heritage but to also continue Shaikh Zayed's vision of greenery and sustainability.

The design, by London-based Foster + Partners, was chosen from those submitted by 12 leading architectural firms in ten countries as part of an international design competition launched by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).

"The Zayed National Museum will be a testament to the life and values of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, his unification of the United Arab Emirates, the long history of the region and its connections to the world," said Rita Aoun-Abdo, Director of the TDIC's Cultural Department.

Surrounded by water

Reflecting the late president's love of falconry, it comprises five feathered atriums, the tallest of which will tower 125 metres high.

The museum will cover 66,042 square metres and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter 2013 but will not open to the public until the fourth quarter of 2014.

"The development of the concept for the Zayed National Museum has included discussion with people from all over the UAE.

TDIC has already conducted seminars, workshops and brainstorming sessions with scholars and experts from the seven emirates to discuss and define the narrative of the Zayed National Museum," she said.

The building will be surrounded by water and contain landscaped gardens as a reflection of the efforts of Shaikh Zayed to increase the desert's greenery while remaining true to the UAE's heritage.

Each steel feather will contain a gallery space where visitors can explore the history and culture of the UAE.

"The Zayed National Museum will have its own permanent collection, but this will be complemented by objects borrowed from collectors and institutions in the UAE as well as others further afield.

The museum will present a mix of exhibits including artefacts along with different forms of media such as film, photography and audio," Aoun Abdo explained.


To raise awareness about the museum and provide a glimpse into what types of objects it may house, TDIC has begun a series of exhibitions.

The first is the Splendours of Mesopotamia, which will run from March 29 to June 2 in the Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition centre.

"The public programme for the Zayed National Museum is currently being developed by a dedicated TDIC Cultural Department education team who are liaising with local and international partners in their research and planning.

"We will continue to reveal more details as we move closer to the opening of the museum," she said.

  • 125 metres tall main atrium shaped like feather
  • 2014 opening targeted for the museum