National Emirati people love cars – and if they are close to the reigning families, they are typically also rather rich. Thus, it is not that surprising that there are a couple of excellent, privately driven car museums in the United Arab Emirates. I already introduced you to the excellent Emirates National Auto Museum, which is located South of Abu Dhabi. While its pyramid-shaped exhibition space is somehow still rather well-known, the Off Road History Museum located in the East parts of the Emirate of Sharjah is even more of a hidden gem. I even could not find too much information about it before I visited it in February 2022. Here is my review.
Off Road History Museum – Location & Admission
The Off Road History Museum is located right at the East side of the E55 motorway. South of the museum is the city of Al Madam (which is very well-known for its ghost village) and in the North there is Mileiha / Mleiha, which is having an excellent archaeological center. Even from Sharjah, I would recommend to go to the museum by rental car. The driving distance to the museum, which is close to the Omani border, from the emirate’s capital is some one hour (roughly 65 km). The sign and the oversize jeep at the entrance just cannot make you miss the place.
Google gives a daily opening time of 9:00 to 17:00 hrs. I cannot fully validate it – one factor why this place is some sort of a “hidden gem” is also that the website’s information is limited. I would expect shorter opening times at Ramadan. The place is fully air-conditioned so that you can also visit it in summer months. You pay the admission at the entrance gate already, the adult fee is 55 AED, roughly 14 Euro.
Off Road History Museum – The Visit
The whole visit takes you through three exhibition halls (with significantly different sizes, as you see in the model picture above). The cars are all documented in English, special exhibits like very rare cars or cars with a very low mileage are marked with a rainbow – so even if you are not wanting to explore all hundreds of cars, you can easily pick the highlights. The museum claims to be unique in its kind. Without telling you too much beforehand, this feels to be absolutely realistic.
The first exhibition hall takes you to locally and abroad modified cars. There are a lot of super-size off road vehicles – some feel rather weird, while others are just cool. The cars have been used by the Sheikh family in fact, so that the cars are not fully “useless”. The first exhibition hall also features a couple of really interesting historic off road cars – even you are not into the sometimes a bit of weird-feeling modifications, this is a really cool first look into off road car history.
The Army Building
You have to take a few steps outside to the second and smallest building: the Army Building hosts military cars only. The museum again features a huge range of different cars and also models from different eras, including rather exotic options. The hall is packed with cars – which unfortunately implies that you can only see the cars from the fron and cannot step behind the cars or between them (which is valid for the whole museum).
I Call It “the Matrix”
If you take the same order like I did, the History Building is the last one on my list. The pictures might not tell you how huge this place is. I received the shocking message that Russia invaded the Ukraine, while I have been in this hall, so that I just did not feel like taking too many pictures – but maybe you can slightly guess the amazing number of cars in that place. Thereby I named the History Building “The Matrix”. The reason for that: if you go in one direction, you more or travel walk along the timeline (i.e. forward or backward in time), while the other rectangular directions make you travel through different sections like U.S. cars, British cars or Asian models. If you look for a certain brand, I am sure, you will find it quickly in here.
You also see in the pictures that this exhibition hall is having a nice balance between rare and special vehicles as well as rather “ordinary” day-to-day off road cars.
The rear of the same exhibition space also gives you some trucks – transportation ones, ciivil services as well as some military ones.
Off Road History Museum – Services
There is a museum restaurant and some food services adjacent to the museum. Unfortunately, all facilities were closed during my visit. The staff was very friendly and helpful.
Off Road History Museum – My View
If only that place would not be in such a remote location… The Sharjah Off Road History Museum is such a gem and fascinating collection of cars. Unfortunately, neither the location nor the marketing in Dubai and Sharjah really causes people to visit this great place, so that there just a handful of other visitors during my more than two hours time in this great museum. It’s a lovely region with some really great attractions – go for this part of the Emirate of Sharjah if you are around!
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