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Museum of the Future To Open

  • Image20120 AP2427
    Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has unveiled an architecturally stunning new museum that envisions what the world could look like in 50 years. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)


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Dubai in the United Arab Emirates will open the doors Friday to an architecturally stunning building that houses the new Museum of the Future. The seven-story structure envisions a dreamlike world powered by solar energy and highlighting the Gulf Arab state’s frenetic quest to develop.

The museum is shaped like a torus, or doughnut. It is a design marvel that is constructed without supporting columns, relying instead on a network of diagonal beams. Windows envelop the structure, each carved in the shape of a character in Arabic calligraphy. The finished building is a work of art in itself. It adds another eye-popping element to the wealthy city’s modern skyline, which includes the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa.

The Museum of the Future projects Dubai’s ambitions and its desire to be seen as a modern, inclusive city even as its political system remains rooted in hereditary, majority Islamic, rule. Hard limits still exist on the types of expression permitted. But the museum is the latest in a stream of feats for Dubai, which is the first country in the Middle East to host the World’s Fair.

The museum envisions what the world could look like 50 years from today. It’s a vision that crystallizes the United Arab Emirates’ own 50-year transformation from a pearl-diving backwater to a globally interconnected business and finance hub fueled by oil and gas wealth.

Sarah Al-Amiri is the UAE minister of state for advanced technology and chair of the UAE Space Agency. She remarks on the progress the UAE has made in little time. “Prior to 1971, (we had) no basic road networks, no basic education, electricity network, and so on.” She says the nation was forced to develop so fast “because we needed to catch up with the rest of the world.”

The next steps for the oil-rich nation are to move toward a more sustainable energy consumption plan. The museum focuses on efforts toward that goal—but also recognizes a tension created for Gulf Arab states, all of which also desire to keep pumping gas and oil for profits.

Ironically, the museum encourages visitors to value the Earth’s wealth of biodiversity—in the city that celebrates consumption, luxury, opulence, and consumerism.

Visitors to the Museum of the Future are ushered by an artificial intelligence guide named “Aya.” She beckons people to experience a future with flying taxis, windfarms, and a world powered by a massive structure orbiting Earth. The proposed structure harnesses the Sun’s energy and beams it to the Moon. The so-called “Sol Project” imagines the Moon covered by countless solar panels that direct that energy toward nodes on Earth, where humanity thrives and the planet’s biodiversity includes innovative plant species resistant to fire. (Might that inspiration be drawn from God’s own burning bush in Exodus 3? Or more likely, a vision for plant life that can survive wildfires?)

The Museum of the Future opens to the public Friday with tickets costing the equivalent of $40 per person.

(Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has unveiled an architecturally stunning new museum that envisions what the world could look like in 50 years. AP/Kamran Jebreili)