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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for 5 Top Museums to Visit in Abu Dhabi - A dose of fascinating history in the exotic Gulf state
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Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Top Museums to Visit in Abu Dhabi - A dose of fascinating history in the exotic Gulf state

While characteristically modernistic, Abu Dhabi of glass-swathed skyscrapers and mind-blowing opulence is also the proud possessor of a long and rich history. Embark on a tour of the many museums that call the capital city home and savour a dose of fascinating history in the exotic Gulf state.

1

Louvre Abu Dhabi - The crown jewel of the Gulf city

Your tour of Abu Dhabi museums certainly wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Saadiyat Island, where the city’s undisputed crown jewel, the beautiful Louvre Abu Dhabi, nestles. Opening doors in 2007 after 10 years in the work, the magnificent art museum is one of the newest additions to join the host of fine museums and art galleries of the Gulf state. If the 23 art galleries and their incredible 600 artworks aren’t reason enough to visit this impressive work of French-UAE collaboration, the futuristic architecture by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel certainly is.

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Abu Dhabi Heritage Village - Bygone Abu Dhabi before modernisation

Modern-day Abu Dhabi, where an ever-growing skyline and mind-blowing extravagance so widely characterise, the capital city is anything but the traditional Gulf state that was centuries ago. Nevertheless, for those looking for a slice of bygone, authentic Abu Dhabi, the timeless charm of Abu Dhabi Heritage Village prevails untouched and unmarred, taking you back in time in the postmodern city. The old-world quarter takes the form of a reconstructed traditional village, immediately evocative of Abu Dhabi of centuries past. The historic fishing village, atmospheric souk, traditional mosque, old-world “falaj” irrigation channel and traditional “barasti” houses galore — the bygone Gulf city is very much alive in the quaint oasis.

3

Etihad Modern Art Gallery - Contemporary appeal amongst the historic charm

Among the host of historic museums that dominate Abu Dhabi’s arts and culture scene, this snazzy modern art gallery showcases some of the best contemporary artworks in the Gulf state. Feast your eyes on the striking and intricate works of art and retreat to a fine premier suite in the city, offered by the likes of Oaks Liwa Executive Suites.

4

Manarat Al Saadiyat - Ardent art buffs unleashed

Nestled on the same island as the aforementioned Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, Manarat Al Saadiyat is another fine addition to Abu Dhabi’s vibrant arts and culture scene. A stimulating hub for both interactive local cultural displays and large-scale international art installations, the striking museum has earned cred as an unmissable experience for all ardent art buffs to the capital city. Visitors to the museum after sundown are treated to one additional art installation — the building’s illuminating facade, which also adds as a fascinating installation to the spectacular installations and exhibits galore on display.

5

Emirates National Auto Museum - Fanatical petrol heads appeased

Away from the hustle and bustle of the lively metropolis, nestled on the edge of the golden desert is the Emirates National Auto Museum — a true exception among the city’s host of museums that isn’t history, art or culture. Housing a collection of more than 200 vintage and modified cars, trucks, military vehicles and other anomalous automobiles, the sprawling museum is heaven on earth for fanatical petrol heads.