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Entrance to the Museum of the Future in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: One cannot help but be enthralled upon entering the Museum of the Future. Every nook and corner speaks about the future.

Gulf News was among the select one’s to be allowed a curated tour of the futuristic edifice today, a day after its official opening on 22-2-22 (February 22, 2022).

The Museum is as impressive from the outside as it is from the inside, with the Arabic calligraphy engraved on its glittering walls adding to its allure. The interiors of the museum are divided into seven levels and the narrative of the Museum of the Future is told in five chapters: 1) OSS Hope 2) Heal Institute 3) Al Waha (Oasis) 4) Tomorrow Today and 5) Future Heroes.

Visitors are ushered in by Aya, the digital resident of the Museum of the Future. The avatar also serves as a visionary technologist who tells guests that “to reimagine the future, one must be open to new possibilities”.

Not predictions but solutions

But first the caveat: Whatever one sees inside this futuristic museum are “not predictions but solutions to present and future challenges”. Designed as a “living laboratory to come up with out-of-the-box solutions”, visitors become not just mere spectators, but collaborators in making discoveries that will power mankind to a better future. These solutions are presented through an immersive light-and-sound show, using latest technologies.

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A view of the interiors of the museum. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Chapter 1: OSS Hope

The first stop of our visit was aboard OSS (Orbital Space Station) Hope.

Launching from Dubai, a replica of the space shuttle made by NASA in 1981 that takes visitors 600km above the Earth. While it took two days for astronauts back in 1980s to reach the Orbital Space Station, visitors to the Museum of the Future will need only four minutes and 30 seconds to reach their destination in space!

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Visitors inside Chapter 1: OSS Hope, at Museum of the Future. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

It is a simulated journey to space — complete with bumps and turbulence — but in a safe environment. The ‘liftoff’ from Dubai is a sight to behold, with visitors seeing the Burj Al Arab and The Palm Jumeirah from the side of the space shuttle. The space journey is complete with a docking experience on OSS Hope. Visitors are then ushered in to the command centre of the station, where they can have a complete view of the Moon being transformed into a source of renewable energy for the Earth.

Visitors become space explorers as they get inspiration from space pioneers and get an immersive experience of life in space.

Get ready to be recruited

Visitors to the museum are given the option to join one of the six missions, where they will be asked to become an asteroid fleet pilot, bio designer on Earth orbit or a Mars colony ambassador.

OSS Hope is symbol of the world’s aspiration to have a better future and the museum speaks about that future in multiple languages. Engraved on the space station’s immersive command centre are marginal notes written in English, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, French and Hindi.

After “flying” to Space, visitors head back to Earth and land at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

Chapter 2: The Heal Institute

Next stop in the journey to the future is the Heal Institute, where visitors can experience an ecosystem simulator tested for new species. Here, we enter a digital Amazon, where tropical forests come alive and people can have a better understanding of how climate change is affecting our environment.

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Inside Chapter 2: The Heal Institute Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Next, visitors are ushered into the ‘Vault of Life’, a DNA library of thousands of species, where they can explore and discover new species and participate in a global effort to repair the damages done by climate change.

Real scientists were sent to Amazon for two weeks who went to digitally map the DNA of around 2,400 species. The collected information is being shown at the museum, where visitors can “mix and match” various DNA sequences and see what extinct species can come back to life and also have the code to preserve the threatened species.

Chapter 3: Al Waha

Taking a break from loads of information, the next and third chapter of the joinery to the future is Al Waha or The Oasis (in English). This is an immersive experience advocating promotion of mental health. The future of wellness is a travel to a sanctuary free from digital bondage. Here, visitors are reconnected to their human senses and brought to a ‘safe sanctum’ where they can find inner peace for the mind, body and spirit.

It is advised to turn off any gadget or smart phone once you enter this place to really have a moment to relax. The museum will actually help you relax as it employs a combination of various elements, including water, light, music and vibration to take the stress away.

Chapter 4: Tomorrow Today

Emerging from a relaxing environment, one can now have a clearer mindset to welcome tomorrow, today. In this next sanctum, one explores near-future technologies from the world’s leading innovators.

The question, ‘What can we expect in the next decade or 50 years from now’ is answered by designers, researchers and corporations responding to man’s future challenges. The future of mobility, customised and intelligent management, automation, flight to space, artificial Intelligence, health and wellness, medical technology, climate change are all presented and visitors are asked what they can do to provide a better future for everyone.

For curiosity’s sake, we suggest you watch out for Robird, a remotely controlled peregrine falcon designed to offer a solution to controlling bird populations at landfills, airports and farms. There is also Sedric, an abbreviation for a self-driving car. It’s an all-electric autonomous concept car that can be used for car-sharing, just like a taxi or school bus. The concept features five scanners, seven cameras and a number of additional sensors to make it a Level 5 fully autonomous vehicle, enabling it to mimic the behaviour of any human-driven car.

Chapter 5: Future Heroes

This is the final stop — Museum of the Future’s dedicated space for children where they can explore and play. But this is more than a playground, this is an imagination lab, where children are encouraged to develop future-proof skills. They imagine, design and build their own future.

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Inside Chapter 5: Future Heroes, at Dubai's Museum of the Future. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

The future is now

The museum is not making a forecast or merely predicting the future. The contents are based on the actual challenges that humanity is facing today — climate change, depleting energy sources, food insecurity, mental health, safe future for the children and more.

Act now. The future is now.

Tickets and timings

Entry tickets to the Museum of the Future are priced at Dh145. Children under three years old can enter free. Complimentary tickets are also available for Emirati citizens above the age of 60, people of determination, along with one accompanying caregiver.

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Visitors inside the Museum of the Future on the first day of its opening to the public. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Online bookings should be made before the preferred visiting time as each ticket holder will be allocated a specific time slot during the museum’s opening hours from 10am to 6pm all week long.

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Tickets, however, are sold out for this month. The nearest date to book is March 1. There are 12 slots available daily for visiting the museum, timed at 30-minute intervals and starting from 11.30am. The last entry time is 5pm.