Abu Dhabi is not just a vibrant city. Home to majestic beaches and incredible theme parks, the UAE capital is a leading hub for art and culture. Among the superabundance of heritage spots is a picturesque site called Qasr Al Hosn. The oldest stone building in the capital reopened as a museum in late 2018 after extensive restoration work. Since then, it has become one of the most popular attractions to visit in Abu Dhabi.
Read on to learn more about this cultural attraction, its facilities, things to do and more.
What is Qasr Al Hosn?
Qasr Al Hosn or Al Hosn Palace is an integral part of the history of Abu Dhabi. The cultural heart of the capital houses the city’s original watchtower. Constructed in the 1790s, the magnificent tower overlooked the coastal trade routes. In the past, it has been home to the ruling family, the National Consultative Council and the national archive centre.
After 11 years of restoration and conservation work, this momentous place has been converted into a museum. Visitors can view the mesmerising progress of the land from a fishing and pearling hub to an urban, global metropolis.
Amenities in Qasr Al Hosn Abu Dhabi
There are two main buildings in Qasr Al Hosn: the Inner Fort and the Outer Palace. The Inner Fort was built in 1795, while the Outer Palace’s construction was completed in 1945. The internal fortress was where all state business used to take place.
If you are fascinated by the lives of the UAE rulers, a trip to the Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan Al Nahyan Wing will be particularly interesting. Furthermore, 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 also quite impressive, with materials present from 6000 BC.
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. Different workshops 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, and tents to protect their families from the scorching sun. They also used to take great pride in preparing accessories for the family camels. With a stunning mix of colour and texture, they would prepare clothes for camel saddles and straps.
When visiting the House of Artisans, visitors can also learn about the traditional craft of Khoos. With this technique, the branches and leaves of the date palm tree have been weaved into different household items for generations.
Men and women work together to weave or braid date palm fronds to produce goods. While the primary 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 from 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 even one mistake. Family and friends revere those who have perfected this art.
Early residents of Abu Dhabi were the people of the sea who found numerous ways to use the coastline to their benefit. They helped the local economy and developed a trade cycle across the Indian Ocean through pearling and fishing. Even today, fishing remains an essential activity in this city. Even if you are a tourist, you can fish in the seas of Abu Dhabi.
Events and activities at Qasr Al Hosn Fort
There’s so much to see at Qasr Al Hosn, including traditional performances and crafts. The House of Artisans specifically holds various training courses, workshops and other public events regularly.
Weaving Cultures: From Mexico to the UAE
One of the ongoing exhibitions, Weaving Cultures, celebrates the fusion of Emirati crafts and Mexican folk art. It highlights the similarities, differences and shared threads between the two cultures through artistic creations. The exhibition is co-organised by the House of Artisans and the Fomento Cultural Citibanamex.
- Location: House of Artisans
- Duration: Until 23rd June 2022
- Timings: Saturday – Thursday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm | Friday 2:00 pm to 10:00 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 as well as the splendour and ingenuity of this nation. The Qasr Al Hosn festival attracts many tourists every year.
Where is Qasr Al Hosn located?
Qasr Al Hosn is 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?
The timings of Qasr Al Hosn are Saturday to Thursday from 09:00 am to 08:00 pm. On Friday, the venue remains open from 02:00 pm to 08:00 pm.
What is the cost of tickets at Qasr Al Hosn?
Following are the ticket prices for general admission to Qasr Al Hosn.
- Adults: AED 30
- Children (Under 12): AED 15
Note that a Qasr Al Hosn ticket will give you access to Al Hosn Palace, the Craftsmen’s House and daily programmes. The House of Artisans and landscape are free to visit, except for the special workshops and events. Tickets can be purchased online or in-person at Al Qasr.
Can I visit Qasr Al Hosn with a private or school group?
Yes, in fact, 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 +971-2-697-6400 or visit their website www.qasralhosn.ae/ar.
Human 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 UAE residents of how this magnificent city was built and where it all started.
There are other heritage sites in Abu Dhabi where you can learn about the region’s rich culture. 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.