Traditional costumes on view at Al Shindagha Museum.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
ACCIONA Cultura, a leading company in cultural and environmental sustainability, recently completed the implementation of four pavilions at the Al Shindagha Museum in Dubai. It organised a media tour of the museum, to offer visitors a firsthand experience of their work on the project. The Al Shindagha Museum is a heritage museum located in the heart of the Dubai Historic District. Its aim is to promote the city’s historical, artistic and cultural heritage through innovative technologies.
Al Shindagha is the area where the Al Maktoum ruling family of Dubai originally lived. From 1912 to 1958, the then Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, lived in the area. Al Shindagha is bordered by the locality of Bur Dubai in the south, and by Port Rashid on the west. The Dubai Creek runs along the district’s western periphery. The Al Shindagha Tunnel serves as the northernmost connector between the localities of Bur Dubai and Deira.
The museum consists of 17 clustered historic houses covering a total exhibition area of 7,980 square metres. The four pavilions developed by ACCIONA Cultura include Traditions, Life on the Land, Traditional Food House, and House of Poetry. AV productions record testimonies of the former way of life in the emirate, while interactive displays convey how artefacts were made and used in the past. The Traditions pavilion, covering an area of 2,950 square metres, explores different traditions in Emirati culture.
One of the highlights of the pavilion is the Traditional Craft House, where visitors can learn how to make embroidery, talli (a traditional UAE handicraft), or use a loom. The Traditional Beauty & Adornment House showcases the traditional dress and adornment practices of Dubai. The Traditional Jewellery House displays the materials, techniques and designs of jewellery pieces, including gold, silver, pearls, and gemstones worn by generations of Emirati women.
Finally, in the Traditional Healthcare House, visitors can learn about traditional medicines and cosmetics, treatments, herbal remedies, and other elements used in personal hygiene. The Life on the Land pavilion, covering an exhibition area of 3,280 square metres, showcases the way Emiratis used and shared natural resources to thrive and build communities in different land environments in the UAE, including the desert, coast, and mountain. The pavilion also features a native plant garden, a cafe/restaurant, and an education centre.
The exhibition focuses on seven main themes: Land, Expressions, Water, Flora and Fauna, Trade, Journeys, and Landscape Garden. In the Land area, visitors gain an immersive and local perspective of the past by connecting Dubai’s diverse landscapes in an episodic manner, accompanied by traditional methods of travelling and tracking. The Expressions area offers a more in-depth look at the intangible heritage of Emirati culture, including music, poetry, and folktales. The Water area explores the way in which water was obtained and distributed in each environment of the Emirates.
One of the highlights of the Life on the Land pavilion is the interactive displays that allow visitors to experience the different environments of the UAE. In the Desert area, visitors can experience the feeling of being in the desert through projection mapping on sand. The Coast area provides a multisensory experience with sound, video and scent, recreating the atmosphere of the coast. The Mountain area features interactive displays that allows visitors to experience the challenges of living in the mountains.
The Landscape Garden area is a space that showcases the native flora of the UAE. The garden includes traditional irrigation systems that have been used for centuries in the region. The cafe/restaurant serves traditional Emirati cuisine, allowing visitors to experience the food culture of the UAE. ACCIONA Cultura is a leading company that works in a multidisciplinary manner to offer creative, technological, and sustainable solutions for cultural, corporate and leisure industries around the world.
Its teams are experts in the research and application of immersive and interactive technologies, which are used with sustainability criteria, and it aims to bring to life to museums, art centres, exhibitions, events and cultural and brand experiences in an engaging, empowering and entertaining way. It tackles large-scale projects in the field of museums, exhibitions, expo pavilions, art centres, events, brand and cultural experiences and interiors. All stages of a project are undertaken, from consulting, planning and concept to production, technical and artistic operation, maintenance, running, promotion, marketing and communication.
ACCIONA Cultura’s activity falls under the concept of cultural engineering, with creative design of ad hoc projects that enhance historical and cultural heritage through technological innovation, social benefit and sustainable development. “Our challenge is for everyone to be able to enjoy a museum, exhibition, event, or trade fair, under the best possible accessibility conditions,” the company says. It is well established in the Middle East and has a strong presence in museums, exhibitions, Expo pavilions and events.
Achievements include the National Museum of Oman, Expo 2020 Dubai (Sustainability Pavilion, UAE Pavilion, Spanish Pavilion, Youth Pavilion, Expo Live Pavilion, Thematic Pavilions and Micro-museums), as well as the Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace and the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi. Since 1990, it has been developing creative, technological, and sustainable solutions for cultural, corporate and leisure industries around the world. The company specialises in the creation of interactive, educational and entertaining content that primarily focuses on the public. Its portfolio includes projects in 41 countries across five continents; it has received 141 awards to date.