Queen Elizabeth II unveils UAE museum design

2010-11-25 14:24

Abu Dhabi - Queen Elizabeth II took part in unveiling the design of the Zayed National Museum on Thursday on the final day of her visit to the United Arab Emirates - her first in more than three decades.

Wearing a flowery white and green dress with a hat of the same pattern, the queen revealed the design by British architects Foster and Partners, accompanied by the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum.

The Zayed National Museum, which dedicated to the memory of the late founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, is expected to be ready by 2014.

It will be built on Saadiyat Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, in a district earmarked to become a centre for cultural tourism, with two other museums carrying the brands of the Louvre and Guggenheim.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip had arrived in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening on their first visit since 1979.

On her arrival, the 84-year-old monarch visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is also built in memory of the late president.

In addition to her husband and her son, Prince Andrew, the queen was accompanied by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahayan and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

Deep friendship

"This visit by the head of the Church of England to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is reflective of the multi-faith dialogue and tolerance that is common to both the UAE and UK," the British embassy said.

"There is a very deep friendship between Her Majesty and the ruling families here," British ambassador Dominic Jermey said.

"The relation we have now" is based on "a common perception of our political interests, a shared analysis of threats, and very close business and investment links between our two countries", said Jermey.

The UAE, which Britain considers one of its most important trading partners in the Gulf, is home to 120 000 British expatriates.

British "companies have been here for a long time. Oil and gas is clearly an area of excellence: BP and Shell both have long roots here," Frances Moffett Kouadio, the director of trade and investment at the embassy, said.

On Thursday evening, the queen was to fly on to neighbouring Oman to mark the 40th anniversary of the rule of Sultan Qaboos.

The seven emirates that make up the UAE were British protectorates until independence in 1971, while Oman has a history of close economic and military relations with Britain, home to 1.6 million Muslims.