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Best Museums in the Middle East

By : Fernanda lustosa | Sep 28, 2020

When travelling to the Middle East you will explore many things, from main attractions to gastronomy. And surely, a stop by at some museums should be included. There is an array of museums specializing in art crafts, archeology, tapestry and other in Arab countries, so this list does not intend to be complete, rather present you the ones you should not miss out if you have to fit it within your timetable and enjoy the most. Here are definitely some of the best museums you won´t regret visiting: 

Louvre Abu Dhabi, Emirates

Designed by Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in 2017 and it is part of a partnership with the French Government, which will license the name for a 30-year period. The beautiful building´s architecture counts with 8 thousand iron stars and was baptized as Rain of Light. The museum´s permanent collection counts with 630 pieces of artwork and art loan will flow from Louvre Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée d´Orsay and Versailles and. The Louvre Abu Dhabi aims to be a universal museum, which means putting together a vast historical fresco of works of art of different cultures around the world.

Dubai Museum, Emirates

To understand the story of Dubai you must go back to the past, and the Dubai Museum, located in the Al Fahidi fort, is the place. Built in 1787, the fort was designed to protect the city from pirates. Visitors can enjoy galleries that recreate Dubai´s atmosphere in the past, with mosques, souks, Arab houses, etc. The museum also offers an exhibition on archaeological excavations that date back to 3 thousand years ago. 

The Jordan Museum, Jordan

Located in Amman, the Jordan Museum is a quite new institution. Built in 2014, it is the largest in the country (10 thousand square meter) and focuses on archaeological findings, covering Jordanian history from the Old Stone Age to present days. The collections are presented in chronological and thematic order, and one of the items are the Ain Ghazal statues, regarded as one of the oldest ever made by human hands (7500 BC). In addition to the permanent exhibition, temporary ones also take place. 

Egyptian Museum, Egypt

Also known as Museum of Antiquities, it is the most important museum in Egypt and the best museum of its kind. It contains the biggest collection of the pharaonic period, over 120.000 items that range from the Pharaonic to the Greek-Roman periods. The museum is passing through a phase of transition as a new home is being built for its artefacts. In 2021, the Grand Egyptian Museum will inaugurate, bigger and more modern. Among the highlights is the new King Tutankhamen's Treasure Room, which will be able to exhibit up to 4,000 objects.

National Museum of Qatar, Qatar

Another stunning building designed by Jean Nouvel, the National Museum of Qatar located in Doha looks like a desert rose. The museum contains 11 galleries recounting the story of Qatar, its culture and traditions, the modern days, the impact of oil and gas to the country, and its future plans. 

Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar

Also located in Doha, on a custom-made island, this museum opened its doors in 2008 but even though new it houses the largest collection of Islamic art in the world and the architecture original. It was inspired in the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo but in a very modern way. The project is signed by I. M. Pei, the responsible for the renovation of Louvre Paris.

Israel Museum, Israel

Opened in 1965, the Israel Museum offers a rich collection that focus on antiquity and archaeological findings. Among the highlights, visitors will enjoy a number of Dead Sea Scrolls, primitive art, and a nice collection of Judaic heritage and costumes. 

National Museum of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia

For those interested in Arab culture and art, the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh is located in the Abdul Aziz Historical Centre and is the most famous in the country. It covers history of Saudi Arabia, culture and geographical points and Islamic and pre-Islamic era-focused galleries. 

Slemani Museum, Iraq

It is the second largest museum in Iraq, opened in 1961 and occupies an area of 6 thousand square meters. It houses artefacts from the pre-historic period to the Ottoman and Islamic periods. Recently, many galleries have undergone renovation work with help from UNESCO, so visitors will enjoy a new and fresh museum.

National Museum of Iraq, Iraq

Inspired on the British Museum, the museum focuses on pieces from Persian, Mesopotamia, and Babylonian eras, considered one of the most important in the world. In 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, the museum was looted and international forces tried hard to recover the stolen items, even though unfortunately some might be lost forever. The museum reopened its doors in 2015.