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Welcoming the world

For an inspiring journey into the nation’s past and to learn more about its vision for the future, plan a visit to the capital’s newest cultural landmark, Qasr Al Watan

The summer months are the perfect time to soak up the UAE’s wealth of cultural sites, many of which are dedicated to preserving its heritage. The country is home to some incredible museums, art galleries and heritage areas, with even more on the way. Through vast collections of historic artefacts, visitors can join the dots to better understand the UAE’s journey from a Bedouin settlement to global metropolis. One of the newest cultural attractions to open to the public is the stunning Qasr Al Watan and it is here that visitors will have the chance to learn more about the nation’s legacy.

Housed within Abu Dhabi’s Presidential Palace complex, Qasr Al Watan is a working palace that hosts official state visits and summits as well as the Federal Supreme Council meetings and the UAE Cabinet meetings. Within the palace walls, visitors will be able to explore a collection of fascinating exhibits, artefacts and manuscripts that shed light on Emirati governance, the UAE’s vision for the future as well as contributions from the Arab world to various intellectual fields including science, arts, humanities and literature. One of the most striking features of the palace is its remarkable architecture and design.

Grand white domes, striking chandeliers, expansive courtyards and lush gardens define the structure while traditional touches in the décor pay tribute to Arabian heritage and design. Even the doors are hugely impressive. Constructed from solid marble with hand-carved designs in 24-carat gold, each one took an estimated 350 hours to complete. With a guided tour, visitors can experience the artistry and craftsmanship of the structure by exploring the different zones of the palace. 

Must-see zones

  1. THE GREAT HALL Located at the heart of Qasr Al Watan, The Great Hall features a huge dome that is one of the largest in the world. Ornately decorated, there are four art installations inside, constructed of mirrored cubes, showcasing the room’s intricate design.

  2. SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION Federal Supreme Council meetings and summits of organisations such as the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation are hosted here.

  3. THE PRESIDENTIAL BANQUET Banquets in this hall are reserved for official occasions and to extend Emirati hospitality to representatives of close nations and allies.

  4. PRESIDENTIAL GIFTS The exhibition here showcases a collection of diplomatic gifts the UAE has received from foreign dignitaries during state visits.

  5. HOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE Browse through a collection of well-preserved historical artefacts and rare manuscripts from across the Arab world spanning several centuries including The Birmingham Qur’an and The Atlas Manuscript on Astronomy.  

For visitors looking to delve deeper into the history of the region and the world, Qasr Al Watan houses a library boasting a collection of more than 50,000 books, a total of 483,937 titles and 16 million items contained in a digital library. Currently on showcase until September 30 at Qasr Al Watan Library is a collection of well-preserved pre-Hispanic codices and ancient manuscripts dating back to third century Mexico on loan from several institutions around the world.

Guests can bring their tour to a close with the spectacular light and sound show, Palace in Motion, which takes place every evening at 7:30pm for a duration of 15 minutes. The show, projected onto the building’s façade, narrates an inspiring tale about the UAE’s past, present and future, the aspirations of Qasr Al Watan and the nation’s vision. 

Visitor notes

  1.  Open seven days a week from 10am to 8pm

  2.  Standard general admission tickets cost AED60 for adults and AED30 for children under 17 years of age

  3.  Guided tours are conducted in English and Arabic every 30 minutes lasting for one hour and can be booked for an additional cost of AED30 per visitor

  4.  Private guided tours are available in English and Arabic for up to 20 visitors for an additional cost of AED600  

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