Dubai will open the doors of an architecturally brilliant building on Friday that will house the new Museum of the Future, a seven-story structure that imagines a dream world powered by solar energy, in addition to the country’s frenetic development mission. of the Persian Gulf.
The ring-shaped museum is an impressive design that lacks supporting columns, resting instead on a network of diagonal beams. It’s covered in windows carved with Arabic calligraphy, adding another eye-catching element to Dubai’s modern skyline, where the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, shines.
The Museum of the Future projects Dubai’s ambitions and desire to be seen as a modern and inclusive city, despite a political system based on hereditary rule and severe limits on all forms of expression. This is the latest in a series of achievements for Dubai, which is the first country in the Middle East to host the World Expo.
The museum imagines what the world would be like in 50 years. It is a vision that crystallizes the Emirates’ own transformation over 50 years from a pearly backwater to a global hub fueled by oil and gas wealth.
“It was an imperative requirement to grow so quickly because we had to catch up with the rest of the world,” said Sarah Al-Amiri, the Emirates’ minister of state for advanced technologies and head of the country’s space agency. “Before 1971, (we had no) basic education, power grid, etc.”
Last year, the United Arab Emirates announced it would join the growing list of nations cutting greenhouse gas emissions, moving away at least nationally from fossil fuels that continue to drive growth, the power and influence of the United Arab Emirates in the Arabian Peninsula.
However, the museum’s focus on a sustainable future highlights the inherent tensions between Gulf states’ efforts to keep pumping oil and gas and global pledges to cut carbon emissions, including the promise of the Emirates to achieve zero emissions by 2050.
The museum invites visitors to reconnect with their senses and disconnect from their cellphones, but there are screens and other digital experiences in its facilities. It also encourages them to think about the health and biodiversity of the planet in a city that celebrates consumerism and luxury.
Al-Amiri said the spirit of the museum is that the drive for a sustainable future and a healthy planet should not inhibit progress and economic growth.
“It doesn’t have to be prohibitive, but rather an opportunity to create new opportunities from this challenge that we all face,” he said.
The museum’s creative director, Brendan McGetrick, said coping with climate change “doesn’t mean you have to go back to a way of life like that of gatherers and hunters”.
“We can mobilize and continue to progress and innovate, but this must be done with an awareness of our relationship with the planet and the fact that we have a lot of work to do,” he said.
The museum’s goal is to inspire people to think about what is possible and use it in practical action, he added.
Visitors to the Museum of the Future are led by an artificial intelligence guide named “Aya”, who invites them to discover a future with flying taxis, wind farms and a world powered by a massive structure orbiting the Earth that harnesses the energy of the sun.. and sends it to the moon. The so-called “Sun Project” imagines the moon covered in countless solar panels that direct this energy to nodes on Earth, where humanity thrives and where biodiversity includes innovative fire-resistant plant species.
“We tried to create a compelling vision of what could happen if we imagined space as a shared resource,” McGetrick said.
The museum envisions humanity’s collective energy project led by a space station called OSS Hope, the same Arabic word the Emirates used for its Mars atmosphere data collection mission. Last year, the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to launch an operational interplanetary mission.
The museum’s imaginary future also draws on Islam’s past with a fascinating display of the planets of the solar system mapped by astrolabes, the intricate devices refined by Muslims during Islam’s golden age to facilitate navigation, time measurement and celestial cartography.
Arabic traces flow throughout the museum, including a meditation space that is part of a larger sensory experience guided by vibration, light and water. These three elements formed the basis of the life of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Gulf oil towns that have emerged from the desert in recent decades have brought sweeping changes to the way people in the region live, interact and connect with nature.
“It’s always important to keep evolving, developing and understanding which parts of culture drive development,” Al-Amiri said. “Creating new norms and ways of living and coexisting is a good thing.”
An impressive centerpiece of the museum is a dark mirrored space lit by columns of tiny glass cylinders bearing the illusory DNA of animals and species that have gone extinct, including the polar bear whose arctic habitat is threatened by global warming. In this dream future, the health of the planet is monitored like a person’s vital signs.
The Museum of the Future opens to the public on Friday with tickets costing the equivalent of $40 per person. The opening ceremony on Monday evening was attended by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose poetry adorns the building in Arabic calligraphy.
The building was conceptualized by Killa Design, an architecture firm based in the United Arab Emirates. The company says the building, which overlooks Dubai’s Main Street, has achieved LEED Platinum status, a global rating reserved for the world’s most energy-efficient and environmental designs.