View of the famous date palm oasis of Al Ain, the location of the National Museum of the UAE project by RTAE

National Museum of the UAE

National Museum of the UAE

Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Map of Umm Al Quwain

Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Project Facts

Project National Museum of the United Arab Emirates
Client Abu Dhabi Municipality
Built-Up-Area N/a
Services Master planning, Concept Design
Status Competition
Budget US$180 million

Project Features

Museum Public Foyer, a multitude of Art Galleries, Public Café, climate-controlled Art stores and Delivery Areas, Admin and Management Offices.
Retail Souk-styled shopping area with all back of house support facilities, stores, and delivery bays.
External Open-to-air Courtyards to create heat sinks, and luscious Gardens.
Parking Below ground Car Parking for 1000 cars, Bus/Coach drop off and parking.

The original museum is currently housed in the historical fort that sits in-front of the date palm oasis that once guarded its fruits from uninvited visitors in Al Ain, the ‘Garden City; of Abu Dhabi. The proposed design for the National Museum of the United Arab Emirates embodies this function in its architectural language. It is a heavy imposing building that will not only ‘guard’ the oasis, but also the unique collection defining the origins of the United Arab Emirates.

Visitors arrive at the large foyer in the domed multi-story atrium-like central volume. Stairs and lifts ascend to the upper floors where the café and other public areas are located. The Dome itself houses an auditorium circumvented by the VIP zone. All are reached by control lifts from the ground floor.

The main galleries are houses in tow large volumes at 45 degrees from the central volume reached by open pedestrian bridges over large water surfaces that help to cool the natural air before reaching the visitor. Both volumes housing the exhibits are naturally ventilated, and the exhibits only provided with conditioned environments. As visitors explore the galleries, strategically located differing elements allow orientation and easy navigation. Interspersed between the exhibition areas are view decks and contemplation areas overlooking the vast foliage of the Oasis, thereby reminding the visitor of the context.

Section through the National Museum of the UAE project by RTA
Roof Plan of the National Museum of the UAE project by RTA
Elevation of the National Museum of the UAE project by RTA
Elevation of the National Museum of the UAE project by RTA

The architectural language is civic yet ‘desert’- Heavy walls create thermal lag while small punctured openings limit the heat ingress to the inside.

The design adopts sustainable design initiatives Inner courts are shaded naturally by the building components, while breezes are forced through a ‘tunneling’ effect, solar power provide hot water, solar power provide hot water, large expanse of water cool the natural air, and the external heavy walls are designed with a cavity that is blasted with cold thereby cooling the building and it spaces, while negating the need for air conditioning in most areas.


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With over 40 years of experience in project and construction management across the region, Al-Kayyalli has worked in senior-management level roles with some of the biggest real-estate development companies across the Gulf region.

Specialised in working on complete project lifecycle, Al-Kayyalli’s has wide-reaching experience in all stages of project development and delivery ranging from initial preliminary and feasibility studies, financial and time planning, costing and procurement, value engineering, construction supervision and management to commissioning and testing before final handover.

Before joining Rashid Taqui Architects and Engineers, Al Kayyalli was the CEO of the Saudi Qitaf al Ardah Development Real Estate Co. (Al Nahda & Al Omar Group) where he re-structured the company to fully develop in-house turnkey developments through the establishment of an in-house project management and procurement office.

Prior to which, he was the Vice President Project Management and Engineering of Al-Oula International-Amar International Real Estate where Al Kayyalli successfully implemented major investment programs for the firm’s operations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, as turnkey solutions tailored to the findings of market analysis studies.

Earlier, Al-Kayyali was the Director of Development & Project Management for Al-Nahdi Group (KSA) and KCMCC(Kuwait Commercial Market Company), and Director/ Construction Manager for a number of key contracting firms including Al-Jafr Trading and Contracting Co. (KSA), Ali & Fouad Al-Ghanim Co. (Kuwait), Al-Habtoor Engineering (UAE), Al-Muhairy Contracting Co. (UAE) and Al-Hani Construction & Trading Bureau (Kuwait).


Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Rula Hannoun completed her undergraduate in anthropology at the University of Manchester in 1979 prior to completing her postgraduate MBA (Finance) at the Manchester School of Business in 1981.

Hannoun’s professional career began at the First National Bank of Chicago, Corporate Finance division before moving to Project Finance, Oil and Gas. As the Deputy Head of the Oil and Gas division for EMEA at 26, Hannoun became the youngest Vice President in the history of the bank.

After marrying and relocating to Dubai, Hannoun left the banking sector in 1985 to raise her family. She resumed her professional career in the mid-90s as Advisor to the Economic Department of Dubai, spearheading the establishment of Dubai Internet City – the second and one of the most successful free zones in Dubai.

With an inherent passion of architecture and design and a key eye for business, in 1999 Hannoun established the firm Tala Furniture, dedicated to providing quality furniture to the booming hospitality sector across the Gulf and North Africa. Nearly two decades later the company is recognised as one of the leading suppliers of complete hotel interior products, operates 3 factories in CEBU, China and Indonesia and boasts over 120 professional staff focused on project management, technical services, manufacturing, sourcing and quality control.

A member of the Young President’s Organisation (YPO) and an active fundraiser, Hannoun has dedicated much of her personal life to raising awareness for children with special needs. She was instrumental in the establishment of Asseef School (Dubai Centre for Special Needs) in the late 80s, the first special needs school in Dubai to receive funding from the late HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and remains equally diligent in her quest today, to protect the rights of the children without a voice.


With near 30 years of experience in the design, management and delivery of complex architectural projects, Rashid Taqui’s portfolio spans multiple sectors in Australia, Greece, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UK, and the UAE.

Taqui has a Master’s in International Architecture Studies from the University of Huddersfield (UK), and two theses to his credit: The UAE – Searching for a Lost Identity, and The National Museum in Al Ain, UAE.

Starting his career in 1996 as a fresh graduate at German firm Schuster Pechtold’s Dubai office, he won instant appreciation and international applause for conceptualising and designing the multi-award-winning Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa – the first eco-resort in the Middle East attributed to having changed the discourse of architecture in the UAE. His involvement in other ‘firsts’ for the region include the establishing a voice for the architects and designers by the launching Dubai’s premier and the regions’ leading architectural journal, Architecture Plus, shaping the annual architectural networking event, Cityscape and founding the international awards for architecture and design in the UAE.

Taqui’s broad-ranging experience covers urban planning projects, resorts and hotels, palatial residences, shopping malls, airports, schools, banks, offices and varied public and cultural facilities, and undertaken while holding senior positions in the UAE offices of German multi-disciplinary firm Kling Consult, civil engineering firm Italconsult SPA, and architectural firm Incorporated Consultants (Conin).

Rashid Taqui Architects and Engineers, established in 2008, is his personal brand that specialises in contextually authentic, eco-aware architecture. He ardently advocates integrity and sustainability while targeting high yields for stakeholders through innovative design, investment opportunities, and value engineering.

Taqui often speaks at public events and writes regularly for local publications. His interests include fitness, films, food, and travel.

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