The Arabian Grandeur of Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace

Crafted with artistry, the palace embodies Emirati culture by acting as a tourist hotspot and a meeting place for world leaders.

By Karim Abdullatif


Stepping into Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi is akin to entering an alternate dimension: one that’s as timeless as Arabian architecture and vast as Emirati hospitality, resting sweetly between heritage and modernity. Opening its doors to the public, the palace - where world leaders meet in the Emirati capital - is an emblem of the UAE’s culture, embodying history while embracing progression.

Tradition echoes throughout Qasr Al Watan, Arabic for ‘Palace of the Nation’, offering gorgeous windows into the Emirati way of life. Such as the library, where a vast array of rare books and manuscripts document the UAE’s history. The Great Hall’s humbling scale, serene colours and architectural zen will leave you in awe before The Presidential Banquet demonstrates how the president entertains the palace’s guests, from customs and protocols to silver and fine china.

Floral ornaments engage in a seemingly endless sequence of aesthetic crescendos inspired by iconography from across Arabia. Wherever you may roam, brilliance always hovers above, like the Spirit of Collaboration Hall’s chandelier and its 350,000 crystals that glitter like a sweet memory.

Swaying through the palace’s halls, you’ll get used to looking up at the ocean of alluring ornaments covering its colossal ceilings. When you do look down, however, you’ll find Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej’s ‘Power of Words’ sculpture marking the worlds of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahywan. In beautifully stylised interlaces of Arabic calligraphy, it says, as it envelopes wanderers from around the world, “Wealth is not money and oil. Wealth lies in people and it’s worthless if not dedicated to serve the people.”

The palace was opened to the public after only being used for official purposes. Today, it’s both a tourist attraction and a meeting place for world leaders, sitting in the presidential complex which boasts a mammoth 380,000 sqm of space to host rooms for dignitaries on state visits and international summits.

If you ever find yourself visiting Abu Dhabi, which is open to visitors from 11AM to 6:30PM, make sure to pass by this architectural marvel to learn more about Emirati culture and explore its culture. Also, don’t forget to look down.


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