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$136m landmark offers tantalising glimpse of tomorrow’s world

Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai's main highway, the building is clad in steel and glass
Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai's main highway, the building is clad in steel and glass

The world-first Museum of the Future has a mandate to power the UAE’s pioneering goals for the next 50 years, says Dubai Future Foundation chief Majed Jakka Al Mansoori

Dubai’s new Museum of the Future is more than a debut visitor attraction and eye-catching landmark on the urban skyline. It’s a symbol that aims to position the UAE as a hub for solutions to global challenges and to showcase Dubai’s vision of the future.

So says Majed Jakka Al Mansoori, who, as project manager at the museum, oversaw its development until last year when he became deputy executive director of the Dubai Future Foundation, the museum’s founder and major stakeholder.

And the museum’s vision of the future is certainly bright, promising a more humane world with a stronger global economy by demonstrating how next-generation solutions – from artificial intelligence and augmented reality to space travel – can enhance our lives, health, wellness and spirituality.

“As human beings, we all have untapped energy that we need to seek out,” says Al Mansoori. “This is the same for a person, a group of people, a country and the world. That’s what the UAE is all about – finding that opportunity, being curious, exploring the future in a systematic way but also being open to failure. That’s part of the innovation journey.”

He adds that his experience as a trained engineer on infrastructure projects made him a perhaps unlikely choice to lead this mega-project, but he turns this fact into a positive message. 

“[My appointment] really speaks to what the UAE, and the leadership of the country is all about,” he says. “It’s about finding a person’s ambition and putting them in a place regardless of experience. You’re less likely to look at all the limitations, and look more at the possibilities. That includes finding ways that could be novel and that’s exactly what happened with the Museum of the Future.”

Handrail, Banister, Outdoors
The stunning exterior of the museum entices visitors to an almost unimaginable world

Years in the making

The architectural landmark, which was nine years in the making, tells the story of the future through a series of interactive exhibitions, and invites people to experience the technologies and trends that will shape the future of humanity.

Such is its impact that Emirates has revealed a new custom A380 livery dedicated to it. The first Emirates A380 to sport the new livery flew to Los Angeles on Thursday. Nine other Museum of the Future A380s will be rolled out over the coming weeks on routes to Europe as well as key Arab regional cities.

So how does the museum fit with the UAE’s relentless drive for innovation and economic growth?

“The UAE’s ambition for the next 50 years is bold,” says Al Mansoori. “There’s a commitment to invest and build a future that’s better for all, not just a future for one specific sector or population. It’s a global future that we are evolving and that is what the museum is showcasing.”

He’s referring to the UAE Centennial 2071 project, which aims no less than to make the UAE the best country in the world by that date, with the Dubai Future Foundation itself aiming to “institutionalise future shaping” by creating a “recipe to develop future ideas and execute them”.

Vegetation, Plant, Land
The Amazon rainforest comes alive with an immersive mixed reality experience

Curbing climate change

So what are the major challenges putting that brighter future in jeopardy?

Al Mansoori is in no doubt that climate change is the greatest challenge that humanity faces in the next decade and beyond. 

The museum showcases how genetic engineering and biotechnology can “help us heal ecosystems” alongside the development of more clean energies and green transport solutions, but Al Mansoori is also realistic about the challenges ahead. 

“We know that the acceleration [in innovation] in the next decade needs to continue on the same scale as the last decade for us to have a chance to combat climate change.,” he says. “Climate change cannot be solved by the UAE or by any region, it’s a global challenge, and we must all work together to minimise the impact. To create a better future, we must understand the challenges but we must also use our optimism and hope in order to resolve them.”

The UAE has pledged to invest $161 billion in clean and renewable energy by 2050 as part of efforts to achieve climate neutrality.

Abu Dhabi-based Masdar has been at the heart of the clean energy push while the UAE is also in the middle of a major nuclear power generation drive. In 2021, Masdar committed to more than $3 billion in renewable energy investments, bringing the combined value of its green portfolio to more than $20 billion.

Late last year, it was also announced that the UAE is set to host the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in 2023 where countries will gather to take concerted action to cap global greenhouse gas emissions and unite against climate change.

Untempered global ambition

So it’s no surprise that Al Mansoori expects the UAE to play an increasingly significant role in shaping the future of the world, continuing to embrace technology across a number of sectors to create new business opportunities.

 “The UAE has been investing a lot in diversifying its economy and technology is playing a big role. There is a major digital transformation happening and the UAE is well equipped to harness and deploy new technologies quickly. Innovation is rooted in its DNA, it’s about asking the right questions, it’s about encouraging creativity and curiosity in the search for the answers.”He added that the government’s role in encouraging innovation in the UAE is “quite unique” as it enables entrepreneurs to set up in the country and test and scale their ideas to make the future a better place, something that is normally driven exclusively by the private sector in most parts of the world.

Jacuzzi, Tub, Hot Tub
Living on a space station is not beyond the realms of possibility

Destination Mars and beyond

Consequently, the UAE is quickly developing new tech sectors and Al Mansoori believes the 2021 Mars Mission success, which saw the country become the first Arab nation to reach the Red Planet, will continue to drive innovation in the likes of finance, education and healthcare.

“Space is a very interesting sector and is so important for the future. It sets the tone for what the UAE will focus on in the next years and decades as it seeks to be a leader in science, a leader in technology and being part of this small circle of countries that continue to innovate in the space sector, which is vital to create a better future for us all on Earth,” he says.

Of course, Al Mansoori can’t predict the future, but he is optimistic. “I believe the future is going to be very exciting. We are not saying that this future does not have challenges. We know these challenges but there are always solutions if we act now.”

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