DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai will open the doors on Friday to an architecturally stunning building housing the new Museum of the Future, a seven-story structure that envisions a dreamlike world powered by solar energy and frenetic quest of the Gulf Arab State to develop.
The torus-shaped museum is a design marvel that forgoes supporting columns, relying instead on a network of diagonal beams. It’s enveloped in windows carved with Arabic calligraphy, adding another stunning design element to Dubai’s thoroughly modern skyline that sparkles with the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa.
The Museum of the Future projects Dubai’s ambitions and desire to be seen as a modern and inclusive city, even though its political system remains rooted in hereditary rule and strict limits exist on the types of expression allowed. It’s the latest in a string of feats for Dubai, which is the first country in the Middle East to host the World Expo.
The museum envisions what the world might look like 50 years from now. It is a vision that crystallizes the 50-year transformation of the United Arab Emirates from a pearl-diving backwater to an interconnected global hub fueled by oil and gas wealth.
“It was an imperative requirement to grow so fast because we had to catch up with the rest of the world,” said Sarah Al-Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and President of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency. United Arab Emirates. “Before 1971, (we had) no basic road network, no basic education, no electrical network, etc.”
Last year, the United Arab Emirates announced it would join a growing list of countries cutting greenhouse gas emissions, moving away at least domestically from fossil fuels that continue to drive growth, influence and influence of the Arabian Peninsula.
However, the museum’s focus on a sustainable future brings to the fore the inherent tension between pressure from Gulf Arab states to keep pumping oil and gas and global promises to reduce carbon emissions, including the UAE’s net zero commitment in 2050.
Additionally, the museum invites visitors to reconnect with their senses and disconnect from their phones, but digital screens and experiences flow through its facilities. The museum also invites visitors to reflect on the health and biodiversity of the planet in a city that celebrates consumption, luxury and consumerism.
Al-Amiri said the philosophy of the museum is that the drive for a sustainable future and a healthy planet should not stand in the way of 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,” she said.
The museum’s creative director, Brendan McGetrick, said tackling climate change “doesn’t mean you have to go back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle”.
“You can actually step up and keep moving forward and keep innovating, but it has to 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 channel that into real-world action, he added.
Visitors to the Museum of the Future are guided by an artificial intelligence guide named “Aya”. She invites people to experience a future with flying taxis, wind farms, and a world powered by a massive structure orbiting the Earth that harnesses energy from the sun and transmits it to the moon. The so-called “Project Sol” imagines the moon covered in countless solar panels that direct this energy to nodes on Earth, where humanity thrives and where the planet’s biodiversity includes innovative fire-resistant plant species.
“What we tried to do was create a sort of compelling vision of what would happen if we imagined space as a shared resource,” McGetrick said.
The museum envisions humanity’s collective energy project to be led by a space station called OSS Hope, the same Arabic word the United Arab Emirates named its real-life mission to collect data on Mars’ atmosphere. Last year, the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to launch an operational interplanetary mission.
The museum’s imaginary future also draws inspiration from Islam’s past with a fascinating display of the planets of our solar system mapped by astrolabes, the intricate devices refined by Muslims during Islam’s golden age to facilitate navigation, time and celestial cartography.
The museum’s Arabic thumbprint circulates throughout, including a meditation space that is part of a larger sensory experience guided by vibration, light and water. These three elements underpinned the life of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula.
The oil-fueled Gulf cities that have emerged from the desert in recent decades have unearthed seismic shifts in the way people in the region live, interact and connect with nature.
“It’s always important to keep evolving, growing and understanding what parts of culture really drive development forward,” Al-Amiri said. “Creating new norms and new ways of living and new ways of coexisting is good.”
A stunning centerpiece of the museum is a dark mirrored space lit by columns of tiny glass cylinders with the illusory DNA of animals and species that have gone extinct, including the polar bear whose arctic habitat is currently under threat by warming temperatures. In this dreamlike future, the health of the planet is monitored like a person’s pulse, temperature, and vital signs.
The Museum of the Future opens to the public on Friday with tickets costing the equivalent of $40 per person. An official launch ceremony took place on Monday evening attended by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose poetry envelops the building in Arabic calligraphy.
The building was conceptualized by Killa Design, an architecture firm based in the United Arab Emirates. According to Killa Design, the building, which overlooks Dubai’s main thoroughfare, has achieved LEED Platinum status, a global rating reserved for the world’s most energy-efficient and environmental designs.