Zayed National Museum, Abu Dhabi

Zayed National Museum will be the centrepiece of the Saadiyat Island Cultural District in Abu Dhabi and will showcase the history and culture of the UAE.


  • Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Emirate, UAE


  • Tourism Development & Investment Company, Abu Dhabi

Project Status

  • Due for completion in 2018


A Complete Integrated Service for an Ambitious Museum Concept

The Museum tells the story of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004) who, as President of the UAE from 1971 to 2004, was responsible for guiding the Emirates to unification and leading the social and cultural development of the country.

WSP was appointed, as part of a joint venture with Foster + Partners, to lead the engineering design and translate the ambitious concept design into something buildable and functional.

The most striking features of the Museum are the five tapering steel structures that soar up to 124m above the elevated mound and which incorporate the gallery spaces suspended beneath. Sculpted to resemble the feathers of a falcon, the steel structures act as thermal chimneys, using the same aerodynamic principles as a bird’s wings to capture fresh air and draw cooling air currents naturally through the Museum. Other passive design strategies include the use of fair-faced concrete interiors, natural ventilation and cooling which adapts to seasonal changes.


Zayed National Museum exterior view facade

Expertise has been drawn from across the company, with four different businesses providing an enormous range of specialist design services, all collaborating to produce the finished design.

One of our biggest challenges was leading the design and project management to coordinate so many skilled and diverse specialists. We provided the client not only with a one-stop shop for all engineering disciplines, but also a holistic and manageable service with fewer interfaces, facilitating communication across countries and cultures.