Qasr Al Watan is the breathtaking new cultural landmark housed within the Presidential Palace compound in Abu Dhabi…
Ever passed by a palace and wondered what it might look like on the inside? Well, you can do just that at Qasr Al Watan – the newly opened cultural landmark housed within the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Qasr Al Watan is Arabic for ‘Palace of the Nation’, and is a working palace that hosts official state visits and summits.
Apart from admiring at the stunning Arabian architecture, visitors to the landmark will gain a deeper understanding of the UAE’s governing traditions and values, and explore a vast collection of historic artefacts and manuscripts.
Visiting Qasr Al Watan
Tickets are purchased at the visitors centre at the main entrance to Qasr Al Watan, after which you’ll take a short bus ride to the palace.
Inside Qasr Al Watan
The Palace that took about 150 million man-hours to be completed, is white in color which was picked to symbolise purity and peace. You will enter directly into the Great Hall, and the dome that you see here is one of the largest in the world – measuring 37 metres in diameter.
Look around the hall and you will spot four mirrored cubes at each corner, where you will be able to explore specific design elements.
Instagram savvy users – visit the East Wing, where you will find a beautiful golden structure made out of Arabic calligraphy.
The calligraphy is poetry written by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan that says “Wealth is not money and oil. Wealth lies in people, and it is worthless if not dedicated to serve the people”
Visit the House of Knowledge, and you’ll be able to explore an impressive collection of artifacts and manuscripts.
There’s even a replica here of one of the earliest surviving records of the Holy Quran that was presented to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi by Prince Charles of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
In keeping with the Year of Tolerance, you can find three holy books displayed together – the Holy Quran, the Holy Bible and the book of David’s Psalms.
Head to the West Wing of the Great Hall, where you will find an exhibition room that displays a collection of diplomatic gifts the UAE has received from foreign dignitaries during state visits.
Step into the Spirit of Collaboration room where meetings of the Federal Supreme Council and summits are held. The room boasts a magnificent chandelier that consists of 350,000 crystals and is so large that it had to be assembled in the room itself.
Al Barza, the Majlis, is the largest room in the palace after the Great Hall and can hold up to 300 guests. The room is used to formally welcome guests, and is a continuation of a tradition historically followed by Emirati leaders to govern with the consensus of their people.
Inside, you’ll also find a 5-minute multimedia show on the history of the Majlis and the UAE.
Head to the Presidential Banquet room where banquets are reserved for official occasions. On display, you can see a whopping 149,000 unique pieces of silver, crystal, and china that were made for the Palace.
The Palace also houses a Qasr Al Watan library that is filled with 50,000 books that can help visitors explore and learn about the UAE’s political, social and cultural history and the nation’s progressive journey.
Just before leaving, don’t forget to visit the gift shop where you can pick up a gift or a souvenir to take back home with you. You will find a variety of coffee table books, Arabian jewellery, candles, clothing items and more on sale.
If you’re hungry and want a quick meal, there is a small cafe next to the gift shop that has items such as salads, sandwiches, and pastries. Right next to it is also a restaurant if you want a bigger and more substantial meal.
Ticket & timing information
A palace and garden ticket, which will give you access to all public spaces is Dhs60 for adults and Dhs30 for children under 17 years.
A garden ticket grants access to the grounds and visitor centre and is priced at Dhs25 for adults and Dhs12 for children under 17 years.
There are even scheduled guided tour available in English or Arabic every 30 minutes and the tour lasts around an hour. It will cost you an additional Dhs30 per visitor and you will need to purchase the palace and garden ticket too.
If you want a private tour for a small group (of up to 20), or yourself, these are available as well for Dhs660 with the cost of the palace and garden ticket.
Qasr Al Watan will be open daily from 10am to 8pm and you can purchase your tickets here.
Qasr Al Watan, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, everyday 10am to 8pm, Palace and Garden ticket Dhs60 adults, Dhs30 for children under 17, Garden ticket Dhs25 adults, Dhs12 for children under 17. Tel: (+971) 600 544 442 qasralwatan.ae
Images: What’s On and provided