A majlis that was originally located at Qasr Al Bahar in Abu Dhabi, the residence of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is among the rare antiques worth over Dh100 million on display at a newly opened Museum Hub at Souk Al Marfa, the waterfront souk and marketplace on Deira Islands.
The items are from the private collection of Emirati Naser Sulaiman, who has been painstakingly collecting this selection of artefacts and antiques for over 25 years.
"I aim to educate and inspire tourists, expats and younger generations to learn about the heritage of our country and the advancements it has made in the past 50 years," he said. Some of the items were handed down to him, and he bought others at various auctions around the world.
Earlier this year, Khaleej Times was given an exclusive tour of the museum that displays collections of the country's most precious antiques, handmade paintings, medical and electronic instruments and more.
Naser Sulaiman is also proud of the vast collection of paintings he has of the sheikhs of the UAE. Most are hand-painted, and some of them are up for sale.
The Museum Hub is divided into 50 booths or 'museums', in line with the UAE completing 50 years of union, with each museum having a theme. Old coins and currency, a prolific agal and ghutra collection, a selection of yowlah sticks, military equipment, rare pieces of crockery and more can also be seen in the UAE 'museum'.
According to Naser Sulaiman, his collection provides an opportunity for the younger generation, expats and tourists to get a glimpse of the pre-millennium lifestyle and the unique heritage of the UAE.
Museum Hub contains over Dh100 million dirhams worth of hand-collected antiques dating back to more than 40 to 200 years old or more, available for both observing and purchasing. The Hub aims to grow the collection by launching another 50 'museums' or booths by September and 50 more every six months after that.
One of museums at the hub is dedicated to the medical advancements the UAE has made.
It houses the first baby weighing machine as well as the first X-ray machine the UAE ever had. It also puts on display the first syringe that was used for administering injections in the country. It is huge compared to the size of syringes today.
"In those days, there were only three syringes in Dubai and three in Abu Dhabi," said Naser Sulaiman. "There were none in the northern Emirates. So if a patient needed an injection, he or she had to be put on a waiting list and had to travel to Dubai to get it."
The collection also includes all the medical stamps ever used in the UAE, an electrocardiogram machine and several other medical equipment ever used in the country.
Tea and coffee museum
This museum has a prolific collection of everything related to tea and coffee in the country. Hung on a wall is a special sack that was used to preserve green coffee.
There are also dallahs (traditional Arabic coffee pots) of various sizes, shapes and materials.
One of them is said to be over 80 years old.
Different types of coffee beans that are popular in the UAE are also displayed. One of the exhibits is a tray bearing an old logo of the UAE.
The museum houses a variety of old radios, tape records, telephones and other telecommunication instruments.
Visitors can also engage their senses through the aromatic perfume and oud exhibition. There are perfume bottles which are over 100 years old on display. They can also taste test and purchase chocolate, confectionery, baked goods, a rare collection of tea and coffee, and handmade ice cream that is prepared using the authentic Arabic stirring method.
Opening hours are 12 noon to 12 midnight from Sunday to Thursday, 2pm to 2am on Friday and 12pm to 2am on Saturday. Entry to the Museum Hub is free.
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