The capital city of the UAE is rich with history and culture, with plenty of heritage sites for visitors to explore. One of these is Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi. After undergoing extensive restoration, this historic landmark reopened as a museum with much fanfare in late 2018 and has become one of the most popular attractions to visit in Abu Dhabi. Planning to make a visit here? Read up on Bayut’s guide on the main things to do in Qasr Al Hosn, along with the historical significance of this landmark in the UAE’s glorious capital city.
What is the Qasr Al Hosn?
Qasr Al Hosn or Al Hosn Palace is an integral part of the history of Abu Dhabi. Situated in the heart of Abu Dhabi main island, Qasr Al Hosn holds the city’s first permanent structure in shape of a watchtower. It was built in the 1790s to safeguard the island settlements. The magnificent watchtower overlooks the sea, and for any history buff, Qasr Al Hosn, Abu Dhabi is a must-see place.
Qasr Al Hosn has played a vital role in shaping today’s Abu Dhabi. It housed important buildings such as the Al Hosn Palace, National Consultative Council, the Cultural Complex and House of Artisans. It was the former seat of the Abu Dhabi government and it was home to the ruling family since the 18th century. Unsurprisingly, the important decisions that have advanced Abu Dhabi, were made here.
Go back in history at the Qasr Al Hosn Museum
After 11 years of restoration and conservation work, this momentous place has been converted into a museum. Today, it is known as the Qasr Al Hosn Museum. Visitors can view the mesmerising progress of the land that was initially inhabited by fishermen. The artefacts here date as far back as 6000 BC. Qasr Al Hosn Palace is the jewel in the history of the UAE and takes us away from this modern day metropolis we reside in. You will be fascinated by how the ruling Al Nahyan family has ruled Abu Dhabi and changed the lives of its residents for the better due to their commitment and vision.
What’s in Qasr Al Hosn?
There are two main sections of interest in the palace: the outer palace and an inner fortress. The inner fort was built in 1795, while the outer palace’s construction completed in 1945. The internal fortress was where all state business took place. It depicts the story of Al Hosn Palace through historical events. If you are fascinated by the lives of the UAE rulers, the trip to the Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan Al Nahyan Wing will be particularly interesting.
A series of documentaries is played in the exhibition halls at Qasr Al Hosn to educate visitors about the cultural heritage of the UAE. With interactive presentations and visuals, you will get to know about the historical decisions and policies laid out in these boundaries. The archaeological collection on display is supremely impressive – with materials present from 6000 BC.
Events and activities at Qasr Al Hosn Fort
There’s so much to see at Qasr Al Hosn, including traditional performances and crafts. Take a look below at the events and activities that are held on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Selected daily activities at Qasr Al Hosn
- Guards opening ceremony (9:00 AM – 9:10 AM)
- Guards March (4:00 PM – 4:10 PM)
- Guards Closing Ceremony (6:50 PM – 7:00 PM)
- Al Ayyala: A Performance of Valour: Music, Poetry and more (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
- Al-Taghrooda: Poetry in Song (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
- Marine Traditions Demonstrations (5:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
- AlRazfa: Dance of Unity (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
- UAE’s National Emblem: Falcon show (5:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
Qasr Al Hosn Festival
The 10-day festival is one of the most celebrated occasions in the Abu Dhabi calendar. For the past 250 years, it has been a highly-anticipated event. It takes place in the Qasr Al Hosn Square and allows visitors a glimpse at the rich heritage of the UAE and as well as the splendour and ingenuity of this nation. Moreover, performers highlight the global impact of Abu Dhabi in the contemporary world. The Qasr Al Hosn festival attracts many tourists every year.
House of Artisans
House of Artisan is a celebration of the history and culture of the UAE. Through this, Qasr Al Hosn constantly works towards protecting and promoting Emirati craft. To embrace, preserve and promote their culture, different workshop and training courses are held to keep these beautiful traditions and craftsmanship alive. At the House of Artisans, you can learn about the following traditional Emirati crafts:
Al Sadu is a weaving method adopted by early Bedouin women. Talented women used animal wool to create stunning clothing in geometrical patterns. Their work was rooted in their own identity and reflected their surroundings. Apart from clothing, they used to weave bait al-sha’ar, tents to protect their families from the scorching sun. Moreover, they used to take great pride in preparing accessories for their family camels. With a stunning mix of colour and texture, they would prepare clothes for the camel’s saddles and straps.
When visiting the House of Artisans, visitors can also learn about the traditional craft of Khoos. With this technique, branches and leaves of the date palm tree have been to weave different household items for generations.
Men and women work together to weave or braid date palm fronds to produce goods. While the main technique remains the same, some weavers are more artistic by using colours to showcase their creativity. These products include table mats, hand-held fans, baskets and lids.
Talli is a specialised skill, passed on generation to generation amongst the women of the UAE where cotton or silk is used to produce embroidery. Women decorate the collars, sleeves and hems of their traditional dresses with a mix of gold and silver thread. The complex nature of designs makes Talli special. It is an intensive process where the artist cannot afford to make one mistake. Family and friends revere those who have perfected this art.
Early residents of Abu Dhabi were the people of the sea which found numerous ways to use the coastline to their benefit. Through pearling and fishing, they helped the local economy and developed trade cycle across the Indian Ocean. Even today, fishing remains an important activity in this city. Even if you are a tourist, you can fish in the seas of Abu Dhabi.
Things to know before your visit to Qasr Al Hosn
Where is Qasr Al Hosn located?
Qasr Al Hosn is located near the Mall World Trade Centre and the Etisalat Headquarters. It lies at the intersection between Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Road and Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street.
What are the timings of Qasr Al Hosn?
Saturday – Thursday from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Friday from 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
What is the cost of tickets per person at Qasr Al Hosn?
Qasr Al Hosn Ticket cost
Adults: AED 30
Children (Under 12): AED 15
*The Qasr Al Hosn Ticket will give you access to Al Hosn Palace, the Craftsmen’s House and daily programs. You can purchase tickets at the door or online at the official Qasr al Hosn website.
Can I visit Qasr Al Hosn in a private or school group?
Yes, large groups are offered a special discount at the time of booking.
How can I contact the management at Qasr Al Hosn?
For any queries, you can call at +971-2-697-6400 or visit their website www.qasralhosn.ae/ar.
Human’s progress is often owed to the decisions our ancestors took. It is imperative that nations embrace their past and cherish it. Places like Qasr Al Hosn, play a pivotal role in reminding the residents of UAE, of how this magnificent city was built and where it all started. Just to understand and appreciate the astonishing progress this city has made, Qasr Al Hosn is worth visiting.
There are other heritage sites in Abu Dhabi where one can learn about the rich culture of the region. It brings a nice contrast to the modern capital city we are used to seeing. Similarly, you can also visit museums in Abu Dhabi. They are among the very best in the world.