Al Shindagha Museum, developed by Dubai Municipality in collaboration with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and Dubai Economy and Tourism Department, includes clustered historic houses that showcase Dubai’s history and culture using the most innovative technologies.

The Museum combines conceptual exhibits, interactives, video projections and collection displays to create a unique experience for visitors.

ACCIONA Cultura has completed the exhibition implementation of four pavilions of the Al Shindagha Museum in Dubai: Traditions, Life on the Land, Traditional Food House, and House of Poetry.

Dubai Municipality (DM) selected ACCIONA Cultura to carry out the partial design, technical development and museographic implementation of four stages of the exhibition project, which comprises 17 clustered historic houses covering a total exhibition area of 7,980 m2.

Al Shindagha Museum is a new world class heritage museum in the Dubai Historic District that promotes the city’s historical, artistic and cultural heritage using the most innovative technologies. Al Shindagha is the area where the Al Maktoum ruling family of Dubai originally lived. The historic houses have been reconstructed using authentic methods by the DM Architectural Heritage and Antiquities Department in order to respect the original construction as much as possible.

Covering an area of 35,000 m2, Al Shindagha Museum will display more large collections with pieces of great historical and cultural value in an authentic context.

The museum is divided into several themed pavilions made up of clustered historic houses. Each pavilion focuses on a different topic relating to Dubai’s history and culture, within a number of overarching themes. The Traditions, Life on the Land, Traditional Food House, and House of Poetry pavilions have been developed and implemented entirely by ACCIONA Cultura. The Traditional Food House and House of Poetry have been designed by ACCIONA Cultura, and Traditions and Life on the Land pavilions are based on the design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

The museum project combines the most innovative experiential, participatory and interactive technologies through multisensory and immersive video installations and projection mapping, together with traditional objects and informative graphics.


The Traditions pavilion at Shindagha Museum includes four houses dedicated to different traditions in Emirati culture, covering an exhibition area of 2,950 m2:

The Traditional Craft House is a space to explore the country’s handicrafts and understand their place in modern society through various ‘hands-on’ and interactive resources. This House shows significant collections of artefacts made by Emirati craftsmen using metal, pottery, wood and textile techniques. People can also learn how to make embroidery, talli (a traditional United Arab Emirates handicraft that creates an intricate adornment for all types of women’s clothing) or use a loom.

The Traditional Beauty & Adornment House celebrates the array of clothes, hairstyles and adornments, as well as the traditional ways of wearing them. The visitor will be surprised with a unique journey through time and place, immersing themselves in environments that showcase the traditional dress and adornment practices of Dubai. Mannequins will illustrate the various forms of dress for work or special occasions from the mountains to the coast.

In the Traditional Jewellery House displays materials, techniques and designs of jewellery pieces. Gold, silver, pearls and gemstones enrich the jewels that have been worn by generations of Emirati women. On the other hand, men used to carry a traditional knife, the Khanjar, which was sometimes of great value.

Finally, in the Traditional Healthcare House, visitors will learn about traditional medicines and cosmetics, treatments, herbal remedies and other elements used in personal hygiene. The exhibition incorporates topics related to science, history and human nature and is structured around easy-to-understand explanations, making it an enriching experience for all types of visitors. Plants in the three courtyards showcase the flora mentioned in the Quran, especially those connected to healing and cures with specific reference to UAE.

The four houses combine the richness of Dubai’s cultural heritage with the use of modern technologies. The AV productions record testimonies of the former way of life in the Emirate while interactive displays convey how the artefacts were made and used in the past.

Life on the Land

The Life on the Land pavilion covers an exhibition area of 3,280 m2 comprising 10 houses and a garden showcasing the Life on the Land theme. The exhibition focuses on the different land environments in the UAE – desert, coast and mountain – and how Emiratis used and shared natural resources to thrive and build communities. This ‘wave’ also includes an orientation space, a native plant garden, a café/restaurant, and an education centre.
Seven main themes contextualize the exhibition: The Land, Expressions, Water, Flora and Fauna, Trade, Journeys, and Landscape Garden.

In the area exploring The Land, knowledge of environments is a fundamental key to the prospering of life in Dubai. By connecting Dubai’s diverse landscapes in an episodic manner, accompanied by traditional methods of travelling and tracking, visitors will gain an immersive and local perspective from the past.

The Expressions area offers a more in-depth look at the intangible heritage of Emirati culture, including music, poetry and folktales. The pavilion captures how people were able to make a life here, and how the land has become a source of inspiration for its people. The creative expressions of the people of Dubai are a celebration of this life – the essence of their mastery of, respect for and intimate connection to their environment – communicated through the intangible heritage of performance, poetry and verse.

Meanwhile, Water explores the way in which water was obtained and distributed in each environment of the Emirates and how this enabled the settlement of communities across the UAE. Water is essential to all life on land and its availability, properties, and functions have all informed and influenced movement, settlement, agriculture, community growth and social activities across Dubai and the UAE. Despite its scarcity and the tremendous efforts required to both locate and extract it, the ingenious people of Dubai have worked together to pursue and sustain this cherished source of life.

The Flora and Fauna pavilion introduces visitors to the animals and plants of Dubai. The pavilion celebrates the incredible diversity of wildlife across the landscapes of the UAE, and explores how the people of the Emirates took advantage of available resources for food, medicine, building materials and even transport. Both plants and animals were a key resource, found across Dubai’s diverse landscapes. The cultivation of local agriculture and use of native plants in different environments provided a valuable food source as well as material for building structures or weaving household goods.

The Trade pavilion shows how the trade of goods was shaped by the landscapes of Dubai, and how the Emirates have become a thriving place of commerce and exchange. Visitors will understand how the resources sourced from the Emirates were traded for international imports, or exported to other countries and regions. The importance of the souq as a place for trade of all types will be featured.
The Journeys area shows how people used to travel across the Emirates. Moving for trade, for pilgrimage, to escape hot weather, or to find pastures and water, Emiratis have travelled by camel, horse, donkey, and more recently by motor vehicles. The rigours of travel, the goods that were carried and routes taken will all be explored across the pavilion.

Overall, the museum creates a unique experience for visitors, combining conceptual exhibits, interactive screens, videos projections and collection displays. Visitors will enjoy the moments such as a projection into a kaleidoscope of wildlife, the feeling of traveling back in time to visit a souq, or hearing songs that evoke an earlier Dubai.
Finally, a selection of plants has been allocated within the Landscape Garden area of Life on the Land. More than 678 terrestrial plant species are currently known to grow in the United Arab Emirates across its myriad environments, having adapted to their landscapes. The trees, plants and herbs displayed within the garden area were used for consumption, for animal fodder, for building materials, or for medicinal uses.

Traditional Food House

The Traditional Food House covers an exhibition area of 450 m2 full of wonders exhibition. The visitor will experience and learn that eating is a way of keeping the heritage and history alive, with most Emirati dishes having their own fascinating story.

Food is integral to family and community life in the UAE. Food is shared among family members and relatives during special occasions and life passages, as well as served to guests, who have a place of honour in the home. Because of the scarcity of food in the past, there is great value placed on food and people as hosts for guests and the consumption of food, which has evolved into an elegant system of ritual and hospitality around food.

Overall, the museum creates a unique experience for visitors, who will get the opportunity to cook by themselves the most popular and traditional dishes through an interactive table, or explore the extraordinary environments that shape the rich variety of ingredients used and dishes across the UAE. Visitors will also enjoy moments such a floor projection choreography of plates and ingredients, which represents each meal of the day, surrounded by an immersive soundscape that walks through each different meal and the joy of the people sharing the meal together.

House of Poetry

The House of Poetry includes a dynamic and inspiring exhibition of 1,300 m2 that demonstrates the importance of the poetry in Emirati life. It also emphasizes on how poetry highlighted many important political, social, financial, and even personal topics and on how the impact of poetry did change the history in the country. Content focuses on Emirati Poetry, but broadens its scope to the wider Gulf and International by the five main themes considered “Introduction to Poetry world”, “Emirati Poetry”, “Gulf Poetry”, “Arab Poetry” and “Universal Poetry”.

Credit images: © Phil Handforth I ACCIONA Cultura