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The Middle East hosts some of the world’s most impressive and engaging science centres and museums. While this part of the world has enjoyed this status over the past 25 years, there has been further accelerated development of these facilities. Ambitious national goals and generous budgets have resulted in these facilities competing with the world’s best in terms of levels of sophistication and innovation in their architecture, interactive displays, and educational programmes. Furthermore, with the younger generations being highly tech-driven in Middle East countries, means that they are drawn to technology-centred displays, such as digital simulations, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, gamification and immersive experiences, that are now commonly used in interactive science centres.

Examples of high-tech interactive displays in Middle East science centres: The History of Cinema Museum in Dubai displays over 350 digital video clips and interactive models on the history of cinema. Infinity des Lumières in Dubai is an immersive digital art and science experience that has a display that changes regularly.

The 3D World Selfie Museum invites visitors to use their creativity and imagination to take selfies against the background of artworks, animal models and staged effects.

The Sciences & Astronomy Center of Tehran in Iran offers interactive displays, a 14-inch telescope, as well as scale models of inventions made by historic Muslim scholars, like al-Jazari and the Banu Musa brothers.

The Iranian National Museum of Science and Technology in Tehran has a wide variety of interactive displays on early technologies, optics, medicine and astronomy.

The Museum of Science and Nature at Shahid Chamran University in Ahvaz has a display of the largest functional model of the human heart, 46 000 times larger than normal.  This human heart display demonstrates over 600 types of cardiovascular diseases.

The Clore Garden of Science is an open-air science museum in Rehovot, Israel, where visitors can touch, experiment and play with exhibits that demonstrate the scientific principles behind natural phenomena such as rainbows, gravity and solar energy.

The Jordan Star for Space Science Centre in Amman, Jordan, has a vision to popularise space science, astronomy and aviation and revive interest in one of the most important ancient Arab sciences, astronomy.

The Science Center in Beirut, Lebanon, is an interactive facility packed with innovative games that encourage informal learning on science and technology topics.

Geek Express in Beirut provides live, online coding and robotics courses for kids and teens from the Middle East and North Africa. Young visitors are taught the basics of computer science while they programme their own video games, apps and websites.

The Cranium STEAM Centre in Kasrouane, Lebanon, offers exciting workshops for children aged 10 to 16 years on website development, coding, robotics and educational games.

The Oman Children’s Museum, founded in 1990 in Muscat, Oman, is one of the oldest children’s museums in the Middle East and offers a wide range of interactive displays on general science.

PDO Knowledge World in Muscat presents an interactive journey that explores and unpacks the history of the discovery, extraction and use of fossil fuels and how this shaped our economies.

The Museum of History and Science in Oman links the Golden Age of Islamic Science to current university studies through interactive displays, such as al-Jazari’s Elephant Water Clock and his sophisticated water-raising machines.

Engineering for Kids in Muscat provides after-school engineering classes where kids are taught how to build robots, create video games, and learn about the role of engineers in building our modern society.

The 3-2-1 Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha, Qatar, celebrates the history of sports, including the Olympic Games, and includes interactive galleries where visitors can test their mental and physical abilities.

Kidzania Doha in Aspire Park is a fun place where children role-play as doctors, firefighters, pilots, TV presenters and lifesavers, discovering their passion and getting a glimpse at their potential future.

The Museum of Illusions in Doha offers an interactive experience that amuses, amazes and informs visitors and encourages them to learn about vision, perception and how the human brain works.

The Zamil Science Oasis in Unayzah, Saudi Arabia, is an ultra-modern science centre with an amazing array of interactive displays including a flight simulator.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture established by Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, is an expansive interactive science, arts and culture museum that is locally known as Ithra (‘richness’ in Arabic).  It showcases the advances made by Islamic culture through the ages, from pearl diving and date farming to the cutting-edge technologies of today. The METU Science and Technology Museum in Ankara, Turkey, offers a wide range of interactive displays and experiences related to ancient and modern technological tools, and similarly, the Konya Science Center is an interactive science museum that includes working replicas of al-Jazari’s Elephant Water Clock and other ancient Islamic inventions.

Kocaeli Bilim Merkezi, a science centre in Izmit, Turkey, hosts Technofest, a large aviation, space and technology festival, that welcomes thousands of visitors every year. At the Planetarium and Science Center in Gaziantep a science theatre production is performed by robots!

Contributions by formula-d to sophisticated interactive displays in the Middle East: The Museum of Science and Technology in Islam at the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Thuwal is a spectacular, high-tech celebration of the achievements of early Islamic scientists, engineers and scholars. Formula-d has recently upgraded the interactive displays in this spectacular museum with an array of tech-features that enhance the visitor’s experience. These including large touch tables, virtual books, interactive chronologies of inventions and discoveries, and working replicas of ancient inventions, such as water clocks, water-raising devices and astrolabes.

The Neom Experience Centre in Sharma, Saudi Arabia, is the forerunner of a series of ambitious tourist and family edutainment experiences in and around the new city of Neom on the Red Sea coast in northern Saudi Arabia. Neom is part of Vision 2030 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and formula-d has been invited to present concepts for various interactive experiences.

Discussion: The science centres and museums in Middle East countries offer a dual focus on scientific contributions. Some Middle East science centres and museums play a vital role in highlighting the significant contributions made by early Muslim scholars during the Golden Age of Islamic Science. Others focus attention on the achievements of modern scholars from the Middle East. This dual focus should be encouraged as many people are unaware of the vast contributions made by Muslim scholars, past and present, to the development of science, technology and the modern world.