Qasr Al Hosn Abu Dhabi
Qasr Al Hosn, over the centuries, it has been home to the ruling family and the seat of the government, now a cultural hangout in the heart of Abu Dhabi.
Built around the 1790s, Abu Dhabi’s oldest and first permanent structure includes a watchtower raised to protect the growing settlement on the island. The commanding structure comprises two major iconic buildings — the Inner Fort and the Outer Palace.
Following over a decade of intensive conservation and restoration work, in 2018 the historical landmark was transformed into a museum and thrown open to the public. Nestled in the heart of the Capital of the UAE and amid the modern-day skyscrapers, the national monument offers glimpses of how things used to be and is a glorious reminder of where it all began. The largest collection of arts and cultural artifacts tells the story of Abu Dhabi’s history and its people.
Following the accession in 1966, Qasr Al Hosn became the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s dedicated administrative centre, from where the ruler used to plan and personally oversee the emirate’s transformation. The visionary ruler built a new majlis, where his council would gather, symbolically occupying the very site where his great grandfather, Sheikh Zayed the First, held his majlis in the shade of the fort walls many years before.
Qasr Al Hosn now stands as the UAE’s living memorial and narrator of Abu Dhabi’s history. The Outer Palace was Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s family home. It was here that he raised his children. He was close to both his sons, the eldest, Sheikh Sultan bin Shakhbut, became a member of Abu Dhabi’s very first football team.
Reading such enriching details about the glowing luminaries of the past that dot Qasr Al Hosn are the high points for people who throng the monument. Visitors also get to know first-hand about the remarkable personalities who played a vital role in Abu Dhabi’s history. Those visiting Qasr Al Hosn will have the privilege of entering the room, which once formed part of the personal living quarters of Sheikha Salama bint Butti bin Khadim Al Qubaisi. Known as ‘Umm Al Shiyukh’ — the Mother of the Sheikhs — she was the mother of Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sheikh Hazza bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheikha Salama bint Butti’s rooms were the heart of the home, a place where the women and children of Qasr Al Hosn came together and where her sons would seek her wise council.
Qasr Al Hosn is a journey of Abu Dhabi’s development, from days spent fishing and pearling in the 18th century, the tools used, artefacts, photos and archival materials dating back as far as 6000 BC, to the world-class city of today.
CELEBRATING UAE TRADITION
Since 2018, and apart from being briefly shut during the pandemic, Qasr Al Hosn has regularly organised community events to engage the citizens and residents in learning more about Abu Dhabi’s history. Additionally, there is the House of Artisans, where workshops and training and public events are held to promote and preserve the traditional Emirati crafts and heritage, and the Cultural Foundation, which hosts exhibitions.
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) recently hosted the ‘Fashion Through the Years’ exhibition showcasing the evolution of fashion trends in Abu Dhabi from the 1940s to 80s.
The exhibition included items such as necklaces gifted by the Mother of the Nation, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi ,and an ornate burqa belonging to Fatima bint Mohamed bin Thani Al Mehairi. It is such enriching cultural experiences that bring not just the residents and citizens to this heritage landmark but also guests from the International Defense Exhibition held recently in Abu Dhabi. Visitors will also get a chance to design their own Trucial State Passport. The replica of the priceless document can be found in one of the august rooms, which are made open to the public.
Yoga, Pilates, Reading
Until April 30, Qasr Al Hosn is offering designated ‘Wellness Zone’ where visitors can do yoga, meditate, jog, try pilates or relax and read a book. Visitors can practice wellness activities at such spaces from 6pm till midnight.
Free Entry For Front Liners
Complimentary tickets to frontline heroes and up to three people till April 21. Also, UAE residents above 60 years of age can enter free of charge by presenting their emirates ID. For general admission, visitors can check the official website and book tickets. Entry to House of Artisans, Cultural Foundation, and landscape is free.
Qasr Al Hosn operates at 40 per cent capacity. There are thermal cameras in place. Visitors need to maintain social distancing, and wear masks and gloves. The maximum time is up to 3 hours. Regular sterilization and sanitization of all facilities is carried out several times during the day. Cash transactions are currently unavailable.
Qasr Al Hosn, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street
Saturday to Thursday: 10am to 9pm Friday: 2pm to 10pm