The future is now in Dubai



There’s an essence of the futuristic in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially in the city of Dubai.

Making the experience of travel booking easier, Emirates airlines allows business class passengers to book in-city experiences through them. This includes transport to the venue.

Emirates booking my trip, my first Dubai experience, was a pleasure, providing the opportunity to explore the unknown in the most comfortable ways possible.

Entering this well-lit city from the airport and driving towards the V by Hilton hotel, where our group was staying, the luxury chauffeur-driven BMW passed by an elliptical, seemingly metallic silver building with Arabic calligraphy engraved on it.


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Seven-day Dubai tour

There is nothing like it in the world, and it should be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It piqued my interest and I was delighted to find out it was the first thing we’d explore on our seven-day Dubai tour with Emirates.

Created as an exhibition space, the museum has become a key tourist attraction, featuring floors that exhibit different decades of technology, starting from where we are now and moving onto the future.

A question that comes up often as a museum curator takes visitors around the space is, how would anyone know what’s coming?

The UAE seems to function on futuristic projections, accurate because what they dream, they implement in colossal proportions.

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Things in Dubai are big – the city does, after all, have the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the biggest frame in the world and various other “big” attractions. There is no doubt that the different displays will be executed, possibly far sooner than predicted.

A serious bragging right for South Africa is that the Museum of the Future was designed by a South African, Shaun Killa, in 2014.

Killa Designs has designed and engineered a number of other UAE projects, including the Office of the Future, a world first as it’s a functional 3D-printed building; the Namaste W hotel and the Khalifa master plan, to name a few.

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A stand-out factor of Killa Designs is sustainability and innovative shapes and textures to create a unique buildings which look like artistic masterpieces plucked from a museum. A case of art meets function.

Walking into the museum is like stepping onto the set of a movie like Back to the Future.

Floating above a queue of people waiting to get in is a flying robot which looks like a metallic fish puppet with no strings.

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The building consists of seven floors. The ground floor has a coffee shop and a station where visitors can get a personalised fragrance or buy trinkets at the curious kiosk.

The Arabic engraving is carried through to the circular walls.

‘Museum of the Future’

Majed Almansoori, deputy executive director of the Museum of the Future, is an Emirati and has been working there since 2018.

He now runs it, and shares some insight into its development: “The Museum of the Future started [as a temporary exhibition] in the year in the 3D summit – which we refer to as the world government summit – which brings global leaders’ thinkers together… workshopping topics such as the future of government, technology, AI food and robotics”.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, wanted an exploration of a medium where the future would be showcased.

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It is based on science and research in a completely immersive way, where people can physically feel and explore developments from the future; to fully understand the impact of technology and everyday living will impact the unknown.

With observation, it was noted that the then-temporary exhibition had a positive effect on visitors looking for solutions to impending technological advances.

“In the second year, his highness saw the success and wanted us to explore creating a permanent structure. We created a designer’s competition to get our citizens, both Emiratis and immigrants, involved in the creation of the structure. This is when Shaun Killa scooped the prize.”

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