Dubai, 11th March 2012
The Emirates National Auto Museum
Why go? Not interested in cars? Doesn’t matter, the ENAM is still a must-do. This is the amazing private collection of Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. Not a museum as such, it is ‘just’ a glorified private garage. A garage, which houses some 200-odd cars including some truly bizarre ones, such as an enormous Dodge pick-up that actually drives – it had to, to be able to get into the Guinness Book of Records, which it did.
What to do? Ermh, look at cars? This is a truly mind-boggling assortment of personal favourites, 80 of which Sheikh Hamad still uses on a regular basis - there were a few empty spaces when we came... The collection houses a vast array of cars and other vehicles; some seemingly bought from owners there and then, such as a customised camper van, others where given as presents from all around the world. Whilst some are as originally intended, others have been modified to suit the Sheikh, who obviously has a fascination with rainbows. Not only are there several Mercedes, including one in each colour of the rainbow for each day of the week – all outfitted with conveniences such as fridge and TV - but also a number of other vehicles that are either totally rainbow coloured, such as my personal favourite, a tiny Fiat bubble car, or have the rainbow logo painted on them– with matching seats and hub caps, of course.
There are a number of military vehicles, onto which kids are allowed to climb; one even has a golfing-range on top. The before-mentioned Dodge, which comes in all sizes, none as impressive as the 5-metre-high one with a complete apartment under its roof, parks next to some serious dune-bashing monstrosities and a see-through shiny disco car.
The only downside of the well-organised and nicely displayed collection is that none of the cars have signs explaining what type they are, where they are from, details of years of manufacture or acquisition, which is a shame for people who are not necessarily car buffs.
Where to eat? A small coffee shop tides you over smaller hunger and thirst pangs, but the best idea is to pop into the nearby falcon-shaped Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where brunch is the prefect meal after a visit to the museum. Tel: 02-5588990
Entrance essentials? No entrance fee and opening times are daily 7am until 6pm, with a lunch break between 1-2pm. Friday opening between 8am and 7pm. A camel ride will set you back Dhs10. For details phone: 02-6676999.
How to get there? Follow the road to Abu Dhabi, then take the turn off for the E11 – look for Mafraq. After the airport follow the same road toward Tarif and turn onto the E65 at exit 306 toward Hameem. Go past a gate with a rainbow sign over the entrance and you will spot the huge pyramid shaped building also on your left – that is the museum.