Stereotypes aside, the Middle East boasts an inventory of legends, characters and scenery that could spark vast collections of reveries. Where else would you find an entire museum devoted to camels? From the peculiar to the hilarious, here are the top four unusual museums of the Middle East.
1. The Camel Museum (UAE): Just off Dubai’s towering skyscrapers, the museum is an authentic ode to the Middle East’s iconic desert riders. The building, formerly known as “Rekab House”, exudes a genuine dromedary feel as it used to be a camel stable for sheikhs; since then, restoration efforts have turned it into a testament to their lead role in the region. Its peculiar exhibitions on camel anatomy on a gigantic scale and life-like camel racing make this a must-see collection. Open Sunday-Thursday, 8 am-2 pm; +971 (0)4 392 0368 +971 (0)4 392 0368
2. International Nativity Museum (Palestine): While a collection of cribs might seem banal anywhere else, the symbolism and universal focus of this museum entirely dedicated to biblical representations of the nativity scene drawn from all around the world is nothing short of enchanting. Its location, along the street that was covered by the Three Wise Men on their way to meet the baby Jesus, only adds to its magical allure. To book a visit, call +970 598911511 +970 598911511
3. The Mummification Museum (Egypt): A little gem of a museum, it allows one to enter into a ancient flashback in a half-an-hour visit. Instead of focusing on the beauty of coffin carvings or the mastery of their writing, the Mummification Museum unveils the tips and tricks: the knives, the unguents and herbs, the bandages and methods of mummification–all explained and illustrated. Open daily 9am – 9pm.
4. The Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre (Oman): It is highly unlikely that in the popular imagination, another industry could be as strongly linked with the Middle East than oil. But a museum? Well, this interactive exhibition has left all visitors astonished. It leads visitors through the discovery, extraction, and uses of fossil fuels with participatory stations and activities tailored for children and adults alike. Next to the museum, Oman’s planetarium is also a must-see. Open Saturday – Wednesday from 7am – 12pm & 1 pm – 3.45pm, and on Thursdays from 8am – 12pm.