ABU DHABI // The country's oldest museum is about to get a modern makeover.
A reimagined Al Ain National Museum, an institution focusing on the country's culture and heritage, will open in about three years.
It will aspire to be the centre of cultural life in Al Ain, which was named a Unesco World Heritage site last year.
"Now that Al Ain has become a World Heritage site, our museum needs to have universal significance," said Dr Sami El Masri, the deputy director general of arts, culture and heritage at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), which operates the museum. "It's no longer just local. We need to cater to a wider audience. It's for the tourist who hears about the World Heritage site and who wants to learn about this place."
Al Ain National Museum, which opened in 1971 at the direction of Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE, has not been significantly changed.
Located near the Eastern Fort, the national museum focuses on the pre-oil history of the emirates, alongside an archaeological section that contains finds from the Stone Age to the Islamic Period.
The announcement comes a week after the Executive Council approved funding for the redesign and construction of the project.
"These two projects will significantly contribute to the historical, material and cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi, raising awareness of Abu Dhabi's deep ancestral history and adding value to Unesco's international heritage collection," an Executive Council statement read.
"We will maintain the current building because in itself it is a historic relic," said Dr El Masri.
The museum's design is still in the concept phase.
Adach will also design and develop the Hili Archaeological Park, a site where significant Bronze and Iron age discoveries have been made.
The site features one of the oldest examples of the falaj irrigation system, dating to the Iron Age.