Evolution of the Emirates Soil Museum

19 May 2010. International Conference on Soil Classification and Reclamation of Degraded Lands in Arid Environments.


The history of the museum goes back to 19 May 2010 when ICBA’s Senior Soil Scientist Dr. Shabbir Shahid as Chairman of the Recommendation Committee of the International Conference on Soil Classification and Reclamation of Degraded Lands in Arid Environments, held in Abu Dhabi, recommended the establishment of a soil museum, which was unanimously endorsed by the participants. The conference was jointly organized by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and ICBA under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region Abu Dhabi, and Chairman of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

ICBA’s Board of Directors also approved, a site was chosen, and work began.

In 2016, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development sponsored the museum by providing a grant for technology adoption and enhancement of the interior and exterior exhibits.

The Emirates Soil Museum was officially opened on 8 December 2016. Once launched, the museum will benefit students, researchers, professionals, scientists, environmentalists, decision and policy makers, and land use planners in the common pursuit of sustainable national development.

Message from the Director General of ICBA

Ismahane Elouafi, Director General, International Center for Biosaline Agriculture Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Ismahane Elouafi

Director General
International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
Dubai, United Arab Emirates


To balance the competing land-use demands in the United Arab Emirates whilst securing access to natural resources and maintaining or restoring ecosystems requires science-based knowledge about soils and soil management. The Emirates Soil Museum offers an accessible, local pool of soil information which is essential in informing the general public and scientists alike in the constant search for sustainable food production with respect for the limited regenerative capacity of soils.

The Emirates Soil Museum is located on the premises of ICBA: the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture. ICBA hopes to educate UAE nationals about the value of soils in national development and cater to the needs of university students, researchers, professionals, land use planners, and policy makers. With the addition of the Emirates Soil Museum, the UAE has emerged as one of the few countries in the world which has (1) a National Soil Map, (2) a web-based National Soil Information System, (3) a Soil Museum, and (4) national “Keys to Soil Taxonomy”.

Generous sponsorship by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has given ICBA the means to further soil education through the adoption of modern IT technologies like Augmented Reality, and the enhancement of the exterior and interior exhibits of the Emirates Soil Museum.  

The partnership of ICBA with of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Jeddah based Islamic Development Bank is gratefully acknowledged. I welcome you all at this unique facility and hope you will enjoy your visit.

Our team

Thamer Abdulla

Soil Museum Curator. Maintains soil museum and souvenir shop, receives groups and gives guided tour to interior and exterior soil exhibits of the museum.

Dr. Shabbir A. Shahid

Soil Correlator. Maintains soil taxonomy and provides lectures on sustainable use of soils for land use planning and policy implications.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Shankiti

Museum themes developer. Links soils to food security and ecosystem services and provides soil education.

Dr. Henda Mahmoudi

Interactive module developer. Offers interactive modules and games for easy learning about soils and their functions.

Richard Sulit

Soil database developer. Maintains soil database in the museum and provides guidance to soil information seekers to use web-enabled UAESIS for soil use and management in UAE.

Kaleem Ul Hassan Naeem

Soil assistant. Provides support to soil museum through producing new soil monoliths and related exhibits.

Charbel El Khouri

Business Development Specialist.

Sherzod Kosimov

Develops and updates the soil museum’s website and Augmented Reality exhibits.