One week before the UAE celebrates its 39th birthday, the unveiling of the new Zayed National Museum is a reminder of how the country's father paved the path for the nation to rise and flourish.
As The National reports today, Queen Elizabeth II and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled the design for the much-anticipated museum on Saadiyat Island, revealing the central structure in the series being built on the island's cultural district. The building, designed by the renowned UK firm Foster and Partners, will be a blend of futuristic design and traditional values when it is finally completed in 2014.
Symbolically, it is but one institutional bridge linking the UAE's traditional past to its progressive future. Practically, its exhibits will teach visitors about the legacy Sheikh Zayed left behind. It was, after all, his negotiating skills and magnanimity on issues ranging from borders to economic development that ultimately resulted in the formation of a federation on December 2, 1971.
As such, the museum will portray the father of the nation as leader, diplomat and conservationist. Galleries will reportedly display Sheikh Zayed's passions, traditional values and heritage, as well as the history of the region. Falconry, one of Sheikh Zayed's favourite pastimes, will be represented by a falconry and conservation lower gallery, as will his love of nature and wildlife, already manifested in projects such as Sir Bani Yas island.
The museum, though, is as much about the country's present and future as it is about its past. Abu Dhabi's drive towards a culturally rich future and a knowledge-based economy has drawn upon Sheikh Zayed's inspiration, and his legacy continues to dictate the direction the country is heading in. "He was a school; the school we want all generations to learn from - to learn his thinking, to learn his sharing, to learn everything that was around him," Mohammad Ahmad al Bowardi, the secretary general of the Executive Council, said.
Those who did not have the opportunity to learn from this school when he was alive can visit the museum; it is an educational tool in itself for charting the course of the country and its beneficent founder.