It is a hidden world in the heart of Abu Dhabi City, that has not been open to the public before. But this is a thing of the past as the Presidential Palace is now open to the public. Qasr Al Watan, or Palace of the Nation, is part of the Presidential Palace and offers an exclusive insight into the world of a royal court.
The Presidential Palace is the seat of the United Arab Emirates Cabinet and the Supreme Court – the highest constitutional authority in the United Arab Emirates. It hosts official state visits and welcomes heads of state and government from around the world. The Presidential Palace also houses the official offices of the President, Vice President and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
Qasr Al Watan offers visitors the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the prevailing traditions and values of the United Arab Emirates and to explore a well-preserved heritage of knowledge and tradition. The Palace also houses the Qasr Al Watan Library, which offers an insight into the extensive collection of over 50,000 books and writings on the political, social and cultural history of the United Arab Emirates and the ongoing journey of the nation.
The guided tour of the palace starts in the Great Hall – the heart of the building. In the west wing of the palace, visitors learn about the origins of the United Arab Emirates and its system of government. They will have access to rooms normally reserved for official state guests, such as the Spirit of Collaboration, a room that houses the United Arab Emirates Supreme Council and Cabinet and hosts meetings and official summits. Visitors will also see a collection of diplomatic gifts from heads of state and foreign dignitaries presented to the public for the first time.
In Al Barza, visitors will learn about the traditional role of a majlis (a place for cultural, political and social gatherings) in an appealing multimedia show. This will highlight the continuation of a tradition that has historically led the Emiratis to govern with the consensus of the population.
Visitors who continue their tour of the House of Knowledge in the east wing of the Palace will have access to two rooms containing rare books, manuscripts and antiques from the Arab world. Important artifacts and historical maps are exhibited, representing some of the earliest Arab contributions to human knowledge during the Enlightenment period, known as the Arab Golden Age.
In the evening, visitors can expect an impressive light and sound show projected onto the façade of the iconic building. “Palace in Motion” is a story told in three acts. It shows the connection between the aspirations of Qasr Al Watan and the vision of the nation and reflects the journey of the United Arab Emirates in the past, present and future.
Qasr Al Watan is open to the public daily from 10 am to 8 pm. Tickets are available at the Visitor Center and online through the official Qasr Al Watan website. The evening light and sound show “Palace in Motion” begins daily at 19:30 and lasts 15 minutes.
For more information on Qasr Al Watan Palace and to book a guided tour, please visit www.QasrAlWatan.ae
General information on Abu Dhabi is available at www.visitabudhabi.ae