Robot dogs, humanoid giants, holograms, and laser lights. That’s what “the future” looks like, at least according to architectural renderings recently released by the United Arab Emirates for its impending Museum of the Future.
On Wednesday, Gulf News reported that construction has begun in Dubai on the $136-million museum. Nestled beneath soaring skyscrapers in the posh Emirates Towers area, its oval design is genuinely striking (even if it slightly resembles a cross between the Chicago bean and a NuvaRing). Poetry by UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum repeats in patterns across its shiny exterior. Light enters the building through the perforated text, bathing visitors in glowing Arabic script.
The museum is meant to be much more than a pretty addition to Dubai’s architectural patrimony, though. At a press event, Sheikh Mohammed announced that it won’t just showcase prototypes, but will also develop them in special innovation labs — fulfilling its official motto, “See the Future, Create the Future.” The Sheikh explained, “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. Here in the UAE we think differently. While others try to predict the future, we create it.”
That claim may sound like empty mumbo jumbo, but there’s apparently some real substance to it. The UAE government has proclaimed 2015 the “Year of Innovation,” expressing its desire that the country become “a major international destination for innovators.” It has been aggressively ramping up investment in technology, opening a co-working space for tech start-ups and sponsoring competitions like “Drones for Good,” which seeks to find humanitarian uses for the device. And the private sector seems to be following suit, with UAE telecommunications company Du recently partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Lab to explore how technology can mold the future of cities.
“The world is entering a new era of accelerated knowledge and great technological revolutions,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “We aim to lead in that era, not to follow and lag behind.”