Tucked away within the breathtaking surroundings of Saadiyat Island lies a cultural Mecca celebrating Abu Dhabi’s illustrious seafaring legacy. Occupying pride of place in the newly set up Marina District, the Abu Dhabi Maritime Museum is no ordinary institution in the country as it delves in to the Emirati nation’s rich past in oceanic exploration in an iconic space that is revolutionary in design and concept.
Designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando, the Maritime Museum sits between the Zaha Hadid’s Performing Arts Centre and the newly built Saadiyat Bridge. The exposed concrete structure resembles a wind hewn rock that is 108m in length. Towering above the surrounding landscape at an impressive height of 27m, the venue’s diagonal shapes and forms are further highlighted by its 61000m² area water court that mirrors the concrete structure creating a perfect reflection that denoted the two main elements of Abu Dhabi; water and manmade creations. The plush interiors of the museum occupy an impressive 33,300m² and reflect the insides of a large seafaring vessel with ramps and decks decorating the large and spacious galleries. Dhows also float across the space’s voids while beneath the floor a second venue emerges in the form of an underwater reception hall. An aquarium is also found in the level beneath the museum on which a Dhow floating on its surface can be viewed from many angles.
The most engaging exhibits at the museum pertain to industries and livelihoods of the Arabian Gulf in days of yore that were heavily dependent on the nation’s seafaring capabilities. Showcases delving into pearl diving and the manufacturing methods of Dhows are found here along with maps displaying the popular trade routes of the era and the country’s unique geography which led to its emergence as a trading giant. The local community’s socio-economical relationship with the ocean is also explored at the museum which is ranked among the country’s foremost cultural epicentres.
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Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.