There’s no shortage of museums in the UAE. After the gorgeous Museum of The Future opened its doors to the city’s culture vultures this year, another new museum concept was launched in Deira Islands’ waterfront marketplace Souk Al Marfa, called Museum Hub. However, instead of the future, you’ll find yourself blasting through the UAE’s storied past at this museum which displays 200-year-old artefacts dating before the UAE’s formation!
These artefacts range from precious ancient jewellery, rare handmade paintings of the country’s rulers, and old-school medical instruments, to silver and gold coins. Museum Hub showcases roughly 10 million antiques.
A network of many museums
Just like the name suggests, Museum Hub is a collection of over 50 stalls to celebrate the UAE’s 50 years of existence. Each stall functions as an individual “museum” dedicated to a particular cultural object or historical topic.
There are stalls dubbed the ‘Sewing Machine Museum’, another stall is dedicated to vintage furniture and one is a museum that focuses solely on retro number plates. It’s a fun but educational crash course in the UAE’s history and the stalls chart the progress the Emirates has made in 50 years of its existence.
Other stalls also house an array of old-timey telephones, cameras, radios and other telecom devices that are a glimpse into a world before the internet. And you’ll also stumble into booths that double up as pearl and jewellery museum.
But what takes the cake are the off-the-wall items in the medical museum: here you will clap eyes on the first syringe used in the UAE for administering injections and the first-ever X-ray machine to arrive in the country. The idea here is to shine a spotlight on the lightning progress the UAE’s healthcare sector has made in less than a century.
Artefacts worth AED 100 million
While these items sound like the odd assortment of knickknacks you’d find stashed away in someone’s attic, they’re the exact opposite of that. These precious objects are part of Emirati collector Naser Sulaiman’s private collection and are valued at a whopping AED 100 million. Consequently, Sulaiman is also the founder of Museum Hub.
The dedicated antiquarian has spent over 25 years chasing down these valuable treasures and artefacts to document the history, heritage and culture of the UAE. Some items were acquired by Sulaiman at auctions while others were handed down to him. He has held on these heirlooms to educate and inspire tourists, expats and young Emiratis. Let it never be said that the UAE is a cultural desert.
In fact, Sulaiman’s personal collection is so expansive, that there are plans in place to grow the Museum Hub until all of his private treasures are on display for the public in Souk Al Marfa. This will be achieved by introducing an additional 50 stalls in September, followed by the launch of 50 more every six months.
You can shop at Museum Hub
It’s a collection worth viewing. You’ll find yourself perusing through medical stamps from the UAE’s postal offices and around the world, books, daggers, hand-made tools, pearl chests, ghutras and agals (Emirati headdress), 80-year-old coffee pots (Dallah), 100-year-old perfume bottles sealed in leather, old-school fishing equipment, musical instruments and much more.
Museum Hub also has a tea and coffee museum and a confectionary museum. While some of these invaluable items are only meant to be seen, others are up for sale through auctions for you to take home a piece of history.