Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum.

Yesterday we all headed out to Al Ain for the latest leg of our adventures with Mimi and Papa. For those who don’t know, the city of Al Ain borders the country of Oman… that’s where we do our “visa runs” to get new passport stamps so we can stay here for two more months. This time we didn’t go to Oman, but we did go see the Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum. The sheikh had it turned into a museum in 2001 (he later died in 2004 and his son, the current president of UAE, Sheikh Khalifah took over).

It was cool. Not extravagant like I expected, but it was sprawling and very immaculately clean for being almost completely outdoors. It felt very Native American to me in the way the cooking facilities were set up and that everything was so modestly decorated and primitive feeling. If this palace were built and used in the 1800s it might have felt typical, but to remember that it was actually built in 1937 is actually very surprising. I said that if I were Sheikh Zayed, my palace would at least include a swimming pool! The property is an expansive 15,635 square meters but from the pictures below you can see how modest it actually is.

Papa and I were discussing this and he made the good point that in 1937 the UAE probably WAS very primitive. That was 40 years before the UAE even became its own country and pearling was the big industry then. It’s amazing to weigh that against 1937 America, which was marked by the Great Depression, but which had already produced so many advancements in both industry and technology that we take for granted today. Looking at the kitchen of this palace was like taking a stroll through the recreation settlements of the American Indians.

Anyway, we had a great time in Al Ain, finishing up with lunch at my favorite Arabic Barbeque restaurant and Mimi and I picked up some sweets at “Opera Sweets” shop. It was a great day and we made it home by four in the afternoon so we missed most of the traffic. We decided against having dinner last night since we were all still so full from lunch. Enjoy the pics!

One of Zayed's vehicles... a Land Rover.

This is one of the sitting rooms.

Papa, Mimi and Kaden sitting by a tree with goard-like things hanging from the trees, presumably to catch water run-off.

Us ready to begin our studies in the school classroom.

Stu in the Quran room.

A courtyard.

Papa with a portrait of one of the family members of Sheikh Zayed. In the "Family Tree Room".

The family tree of the Family Tree Room.

Papa and his little man walking in the courtyard.

The fountains.

This is one of the childrens' bedrooms.

Sheikh Zayed and Sheikha Fatima's bedroom.

Papa in Sheikh Zayed's bedroom.

Kaden having some snacks in the Sheikh's personal sitting room.

The bedrooms windows all had bars on them and the door locked from the outside... worrisome. Here is Stu trapt in one of the children's bedrooms.

Mimi modeling one of the women's outfits.

And here I am with my choice.

The well.

Outside the kitchen.

A stove.

Individual burners.

Me in the kitchen with some of the pots. (What the hell do you make in a pot that big???)

More pots in the kitchen.

Kaden and I in Sheikha Fatima's mother's room.

A baby cradle.

Stu heading up to the roof.

Kaden trying to be like his Daddy.

The VIP sitting room where the sheikh hosted his guests from other countries.

Proof that my child threw a fit on the silk carpets of Sheikh Zayed's formal sitting room.

Kaden wanted to play with the dates in every sitting room (and there were many).

Stu and I being the Sheikh and Sheikha for a minute (though she probably wouldn't have been allowed in this particular room).

Kaden at the Sheikh's desk in his office.

Stu with the guard at the front gates.

Kaden wasn't a huge fan of the guard.

The front of the palace.

Mimi and I checking out the "sweets".


  1. WOW! ok that was freaking amazing!! It looked to be almost an 'interactive' museum! I just love those. There is a cool one in Rocky Mount that we go to and it always has something for the kids to touch. I am amazed that they haven't tried to enclose it somehow. I wonder how they keep it from getting ruined. And the car... I wouldn't let that beauty sit out under nothing but a grass thatch roof! Oh well, You sent terrific pictures in these blogs you caught up. I have missed it!!
    Love, MammaE

  2. Wow! So cool. Of course, the sweet shoppe was my favorite. That, and the picture of Papa and Kaden walking in the courtyard - awww...

    Tell Mimi and Papa that they look great, by the way!

  3. Looks like everyone is having a great time!! Wish I was there!!!


  4. ok i just saw your comment on the water rat! i didn't see it from behind nor did i actually read the little sign. but i think i'll just go forward thinking it's a beaver. because well beaver sounds better than water rat. : )

    looks like you had a great time at the sheikhs palace. did you go to the natural oasis?

  5. I love the picture of your Papa and Kaden walking together - special and also frame-worthy. Very cool with the shadows and all - I love yall's pictures.

  6. Thanks for sharing the pics, they have inspired me to hopefully visit the place soon :-)