Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum

There’s something about visiting historic landmarks, of walking the same ground, of sharing the same space as people of long ago. This experience was no different. Except for visitors, the Sheikh Zayed’s palace, situated near the Hili Oasis in Al Ain, is empty now, but I imagined the life energy that once inhabited it—the Sheikh and his family, the workers, the visitors.

Historic decisions were made, yes, but the plain old stuff of everyday living happened as well and I felt it all, or maybe I just imagined I did. Either way, I was moved as I traversed the halls, stepping inside the majlis (meeting rooms) and visualizing the discussions that took place between the leaders and elders.

I was moved as I imagined the children studying then playing in the courtyards, the women having tea or coffee and tending their children, the cooks stirring those oversized pots as they prepared meals fit for a king.

I pictured the Sheikh driving his Land Rover back to the palace as he returned home from his regular visits with the Bedouin.

I imagined the aroma of frankincense, myrrh, cassia, and cinnamon as its fragrant white smoke wafted from the burners placed throughout the palace.

I imagined, too, how hot it must’ve been and wondered if I could’ve survived the 100+ degree heat there in the desert.

It was all there, and I felt it…or maybe I just imagined I did.

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