Qasr Al Muwaiji was the generational home of the Al Nahyan family and the birthplace of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. For a long time, this fort was the focus of the larger community as the place of rule. The decisions made at this place has shaped the lives of millions in the region and laid the foundations of modern day Al Ain.
Today, this architectural marvel stands as a UNESCO site and offers tourists a historical learning experience. Oral narrations take you through the life of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. You can learn more about his childhood, style of leadership and vast achievements.
Different interactive activities, events and performances make Qasr Al Muwaiji an important part of UAE’s cultural heritage and a must-visit attraction for those visiting Al Ain.
All about Qasr Al Muwaiji
This is a complete guide to Qasr Al Muwaiji, one of the top tourist attractions in Al Ain.
Qasr Al Muwaiji is almost a 100-year-old structure built by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Khalifa. It always was a unique and striking building. The square enclosure, projecting corner towers and the grand entrance make it stand out from other structures in the city. A diwan used to sit here to discuss matters of the community’s interest.
In the year 1946, H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was appointed Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain. Thereby, it became his seat of power and family home. During this period, many additions were made to Qasr Al Muwaiji as its significance grew in the region. The Thediwan, kitchens, and guest rooms were enlarged so they could host numerous visitors who came for official business. The mosque was also almost rebuilt. People used to gather, pray and celebrate together at Qasr Al Muwaiji as it was one of the seats of royal power.
In 1966, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and moved to the current UAE capital along with H.H. Sheikh Khalifa. Thereafter, the fort was abandoned. For a period it was used as a date plantation.
In the following years, it was feared that this fort would lose relevance and become a footnote in UAE history. However, a number of restoration efforts and regeneration projects have been conducted at the site since that period. The first restoration effort began in the 1970s.
It is important to recognise the efforts of historians, architects, archaeologists, curators and conservators who have worked tirelessly over the years. Their work has been exemplary because the fort has not lost its originality. Traditional methods and materials have been used to maintain Qasr Al Muwaiji.
The last major phase of conservation work started in 2009. Moreover, extensive archaeological excavations started at the same time. This led to new revelations as they excavated traces of 18th-century agricultural activities. Different remains found during excavations also indicated the different phases of the fort’s construction. This led to Qasr Al Muwaiji being declared the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
Things to do at Qasr Al Muwaiji
After years of extensive work, in 2015, Qasr Al Muwaiji opened up for the general public. Renowned architects Machado and Silvetti Associates designed the exhibition space. The design was made keeping in consideration the tonality and feel of the fort.
Everything that is on display at the exhibition showcases the life of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed and the history of Qasr Al Muwaiji. In fact, one could say that it is a celebration of the life of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.
Visitors can learn about the effort made by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed in improving the international stature of Abu Dhabi. Moreover, they can see how the local landscape has changed in the past few decades. So, if you are not very well-versed with the history of the region, this would be an ideal place to begin. It tells the story of the development of this particular area and how the lives of residents changed for the better.
Besides the exhibition space, you can view momentous rooms where pivotal decisions regarding nation-building were once taken. The impressive courtyard of Qasr Al Muwaiji is also something worth seeing. You also get to see the original rooms where Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed spent his formative years. From the photographs, videos, lighting system and a touch screen timeline board installed here, you can learn more about the history of this area in general in English or Arabic.
The outdoor area is also an excellent place to spend some time in. Date trees provide a calming shade. You can sit here for a while to soak in the atmosphere. Nearby is a black-marble dry fountain in stark contrast to the archaic fort.
Visitors can take guided tours. Moreover, a complimentary multimedia guide will also be provided at the reception.
Events held at Qasr Al Muwaiji
Ayyala and Harbiya Performances
Educational workshop on Falconry
Workshop on the process of excavation
workshop on the process of restoration
Protocol and Etiquette in the Emirati Majlis
Ayyala and Harbiya Performances
Date and Timing
Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Thursdays 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Thursdays 11:00 am to 01:00 pm
Ayyala and Harbiya Performances
Thursday from 3:00 pm to 06:00 pm
Things You May Want to Know About Qasr Al Muwaiji
Is there any Qasr Al Muwaiji entry fee?
There is no Qasr Al Muwaiji entry fee. A visit to this historically and culturally significant landmark is free of cost.
What are the Qasr Al Muwaiji timings?
Qasr Al Muwaiji timings are as follows:
- Tuesday to Thursday: 09:00 am to 07:00 pm
- Friday: 03:00 pm to 07:00 pm
- Saturday: 09:00 am to 07:00 pm
- Monday: Closed
How can I book a tour to Qasr Al Muwaiji Al Ain?
You can call at +971-3-767-4444 or send an email at email@example.com to make a booking. You can also book guided tours at the fort. Moreover, for any Qasr al Muwaiji information, you can call the aforementioned number.
What is the location of Qasr Al Muwaiji?
Qasr al Muwaiji location: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Street, Al Ain.
Is there on-site parking?
Yes, on-site parking is available for visitors. Large tour groups are advised to make a booking in advance for their vehicles.
Can we carry food in Qasr Al Muwaiji?
Food and drinks are allowed. However, you cannot take them to the exhibition building.
How long would it take for a complete tour?
You need at least an hour to see all the features of the fort properly.
This completes our guide to Qasr Al Muwaiji. If you have an interest in architecture, visit this place at least once. You would marvel at the restoration methods used at the fort. The use of glass to support the material used historically for the fort is highly impressive.
Al Ain is one of the smaller cities in the UAE, but it does have a lot to offer. Besides Qasr Al Muwaiji, you can also visit Souq Al Qattara or the Al Ain Zoo. Moreover, there are some outstanding malls in Al Ain.
Hence, residents of Dubai or Abu Dhabi can plan an Al Ain holiday over a weekend. For tourists, it might be best to allot two days for this small city in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi. Follow our Al Ain travel guide to get the most out of your visit.
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