Exhibiting an astonishing suite of more than 200 cars, the Emirates National Auto Museum is not, in fact, a national museum but rather a car collection turned into an exhibition. The owner is H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, probably the most eccentric member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Hamad is also known as the "Rainbow Sheikh" not for the first thought that crosses your mind but because he has a passion for colors and in particular the colors of the rainbow. As a result, he uses a rainbow logo for all his leisure businesses.
The building housing the collection is not particularly attractive: a rusty steel pyramid.
Going back to the cars: this collection wow-ed all the connoisseurs that have been there: it features everything one could think of: from the weirdest items ( military vehicles - tanks, a New York yellow tax cab, a Red Cross vehicle, a NYPD car) to Guinness Book records: an 8 times oversized replica of a Dodge Power Wagon truck - used as a caravan, and unique items such as: a 4x4 Lamborghini, a world globe-shapped 3-storey caravan with all the facilities in a normal house - usually used by the Sheikh and his family during their trips in the desert.
I remember watching a show with Sheikh Hamad presenting his museum. He was mentioning that some of his cars were bought, some were custom-made from scratch and some were gifts. When asked if he sells any of his cars in case he doesn't like/use it anymore his answer was: "Sell it? That's embarrassing for me. I just give it away to friends..."
The story behind the 7 Mercedes 500 SELs painted each one in one color of the rainbow : When Sheikh Hamad got married, the party lasted for 7 days during which he wanted to use the same car but in different colors. It was just another "wedding decoration".
Open daily 9am-1pm , 2pm-6pm (Timing may vary). Make sure you call in advance to check someone is there.
Entry fee: AED 50.
The only downside of this museum is the poor signage and explinations. With such auto jewels, it's a shame no to know the stories behind the cars.
On our way from Yas Island to Liwa, we decided to visit the Emirates National Auto Museum, which houses the private collection of H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. The wide collection of vehicles is housed in a large pyramid shaped building and includes: Military vehicles, SUV's, coupes, sedans, mercedes, a police vehicle, a huge Dodge Power Wagon that houses an apartment inside, a Ford Model T, Classic cars, convertibles, jeeps and pick-ups. There is also an enormous globe mobile home outside the museum and the Worlds' Largest Mobile Home, as well as a giant jeep and an aeroplane!! All these vehicles were gifts to the Sheikh or bought by him from collectors all over the world.
Entry is free and the museum is open: 7am-12pm and from 1pm-5pm daily. It closes for 1 hour for lunch. A bizarre place in the middle of nowhere, but interesting nevertheless!!!
From Dubai, follow road to Abu Dhabi. Take the turning for the E11 road and follow the signs to MAFRAQ. Pass the airport and continue on the same road to TARIF. Turn onto the E65 road and exit at 306 towards HAMEEM. Look for the rainbow sign of the museum on the left. A huge jeep at the side of the road marks the entrance.
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