In December 2 1971 the leaders of the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain gathered at Union House in Dubai to sign the declaration establishing the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The move followed the decision by the British government to withdraw from a 19th century agreement that established these Trucial States as a British Protectorate. Ras Al Khaimah joined a year later.
The Etihad Museum opened in 2017 and offers visitors the chance the learn about the contemporary history of the UAE. It comprises a newly constructed Museum building and two older structures; Union House and the Guest Palace.
A series of interactive exhibits are housed within the Museum building.
One of the most impressive exhibits is the Founding Fathers display. Here visitors can learn about the rulers of the Emirates and see their photos and personal belongings. Modern technology plays an important part in this and most exhibitions here. Interactive screens show their biographies and family trees.
Other exhibits educate visitors about the UAE’s constitution, events leading to the unification, the geography of the UAE, and recent developments.
An auditorium shows films documenting how locals and expatriates shaped the UAE.
Union House (Dar el-Etihad), the building where the rulers signed the documents that formed the UAE has been faithfully restored to how it appeared in 1971.
The Guest Palace is the third building in the complex. The rulers met here before signing the agreement. It houses a large dining room and the private office of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (Ruler of Dubai from 1958 to 1990).
In the gardens, a huge UAE flag flies from a 120-metre-tall flagpole.
The stunning Museum building was designed by Canadian architecture practice Moriyama & Teshima Architects. The curved roof represents the unification document while the columns represent the pens that signed the agreement.
The museum is not connected to or sponsored by Etihad Airways. Etihad is Arabic for ‘union’.
At the time of writing (July 2020) adult tickets for the museum cost 25 AED. Students are admitted for 10 AED while children aged 5 and under enjoy free entry. Check the official website (see information box at the end of this page) for the latest ticket prices and timings for guided tours.
The Etihad Museum is located in the Jumeirah area of Dubai, at the junction of Jumeirah Street and 2nd December Street.