5 stunning palaces in the UAE you can actually visit
Get a taste of the royal lifestyle…
It’s no secret that there are a number of gorgeous palaces in the UAE. Home to the royals and their families, most of them are hidden behind tall gates, walls and trees leaving passersby wondering what actually awaits inside.
However, there are several palaces you can actually visit and while you won’t be able to see a member of the royal family stroll down one of the many, many hallways or have a cup of tea with them (we wish), it’s still worth checking out.
Here are 5 palaces in the UAE you can actually visit…
1. Qasr Al Watan – Abu Dhabi
Qasr Al Watan opened in 2019 and is a cultural landmark housed within the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi. Translating to ‘Palace of the Nation’, Qasr Al Watan is a working palace that hosts official state visits and summits. It boasts stunning Arabian architecture and while its white and gold exteriors will leave you in awe, you haven’t seen anything until you step inside. The palace boasts one of the largest domes in the world – measuring 37 metres in diameter. There is a large library, a large Presidential banquet hall where major state banquets are held, and much more. Visitors can also gain a deeper understanding of the UAE’s governing traditions and values, and explore a vast collection of historic artefacts and manuscripts. Stay past sunset to catch the stunning Palace in Motion light and sound show. From all the palaces in the UAE, this is one of our favourites.
Qasr Al Watan, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, daily 11am to 6.30pm, Dhs65 adults, Dhs30 for children under 17, Tel: (600) 544 442. qasralwatan.ae
2. Emirates Palace – Abu Dhabi
The five-star Emirates Palace hotel was constructed for 3 billion dollars to host heads of state and celebrities. Its Islamic architecture and design is a remarkable showcase of Arabian culture with additions of water features and palm trees to reflect the styles and traditions of the city. On the inside the Emirates Palace brags a grand dome with elaborate geometrical patterns and 114 smaller domes. Emirates Palace offers a private one-hour guided tour for Dhs150 where you will be shown the stunning dome, the lavish Palace Suite and the glittering Etihad Ballroom or auditorium (upon availability) and the Palace Terrace. It also includes one signature food and beverage. You can book here.
Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, Dhs150 for the tour, Tel: (0)2 690 9000. mandarinoriental.com
3. Al Qassimi Palace – Ras Al Khaimah
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While its looks are far off from the other palaces on this list, the Al Qassimi Palace is a palace in Ras Al Khaimah you have to explore – that is, if you’re brave enough. Ras Al Khaimah has been home to this mysterious palace since 1985 and rumour has it that the family of the late Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qassimi who it was built for, moved out after one night claiming the property was haunted. However, after years of speculation and mystery, the Al Qassimi Palace also known as Al Qasr Al Gamedh, which had been locked up, is open to the public. You will be able to explore the four-storey property and discover the hidden secrets within its 35 rooms designed with marble floors, glass chandeliers and a few peculiar artworks. There’s also a room with a huge pyramid structure that sits at the top of the mansion – kinda creepy. Do note though, that photography is banned and could land you a fine. Tickets for Al Qassimi Palace are priced at Dhs75 for individuals, or families and groups can enter for Dhs50 per person.
Al Qassimi Palace, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Road, Ras Al Khaimah, daily 9am to 7pm, Tel: (052) 828 2222. visitrasalkhaimah.com
4. Zabeel Palace
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Unless you’re an invited guest, you won’t be able to see the inside of Zabeel Palace, or even get close to it, but it’s worth a peek from afar. Surrounded by lush gardens, the palace faces Zabeel Park and even provides you with a good view of the Dubai Frame. It is one of the homes of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai so of course, you can expect tight security.
Zabeel Palace, District of Zabeel, Dubai
5. Al Ain Palace Museum – Al Ain
It may not look like the other palaces in the UAE, but it is packed with history, heritage and culture. Al Ain Palace Museum also known as Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum is part of the palace of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, and his family. Located on the western edge of the Al Ain Oasis, the palace was built in 1937 and later converted into a museum. Constructed using environmentally-friendly products such as clay and plaster stone, its design reflects many of the historical buildings of the UAE. Entry is free.
Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Jahili area, Hessa bint Mohamed Street next to Al Ain Oasis, Al Ain, Mondays closed, other days Sat to Thurs 8.30am to 7.30pm apart from Fri 3pm to 7.30pm, Tel: (03) 711 8388, free entry. visitAbuDhabi.ae