Qasr Al Watan literally means Palace of the Nation, and although it tops the list of things to see in Abu Dhabi, it is not just a tourist attraction.
Qasr Al Watan is in fact the Presidential Palace of the United Arab Emirates and the meetings of the Federal Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers are held here.
Qasr Al Watan is also the site of the most important political meetings and foreign leaders visiting Abu Dhabi are received here. The palace was included among the top landmarks of world art and culture and until 2019 was restricted to the public. Nowadays its magnificent gardens and amazing halls are open to the public and can be visited!
5 interesting facts about Qasr Al Watan
- Qasr Al Watan is just a part of the huge and majestic Presidential Palace complex in Ras Al Akhdar, the Abu Dhabi peninsula which houses the main UAE government buildings and the iconic 7-star hotel Emirates Palace.
- The Presidential Palace, including Qasr Al Watan, was built in 2015 but remained off-limits to the public until 2019. Its secret gardens and rooms, house the offices of the President and Vice President of the UAE, and of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
- The exteriors of the Qasr Al Watan are built in granite and limestone expertly worked by craftsmen from all over the world. Its pearl white color stands out on the blue of the Persian Gulf and the sky creating a contrast of extraordinary beauty. White symbolizes peace and purity and respects the traditions of the Gulf, where the buildings are built in light colors to reflect the heat.
- The architectural style of the Qasr Al Watan is similar to that of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and is inspired by the Mughal-era architecture of the period between the 16th and 18th centuries. The surfaces are decorated with over 5000 geometric and floral patterns inspired by traditional Arabic iconography. The entire Presidential Palace boasts hundreds of onion-style domes, perfectly manicured gardens, fountains and shining courtyards.
- The doors of the Qasr Al Watan are made of fine hand-carved maple wood and embellished with 23-carat gold details. Every single door took over 350 hours of work to be produced!
5 amazing things to see inside the Qasr Al Watan
- One of the most impressive halls is the Great Hall: 10,000 square meters of splendor, very precious marbles, gold details and complex geometric textures. The hall is surmounted by a dome measuring 37 meters in diameter, the effect is absolutely breathtaking.
- The visit to Qasr Al Watan allows you to see the boardrooms that have hosted some of the major world leaders, including Pope Francis. The ‘Al Barza’ majlis is the hall traditionally dedicated to meetings with guests, the “Spirit of Collaboration Hall” is the hall where meetings of the Federal Supreme Council and the summits of the most important Arab political organizations are held: the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In the Spirit of Collaboration Hall there is a 12-ton chandelier adorned with 350,000 pieces of crystal!
- The Banquet Hall is where official dinners are celebrated and represents the maximum splendor of Emirati hospitality. Everything is designed to be perfect in detail, starting from the collection of silver, crystal and precious porcelain tableware.
- The Hall of Presidential Gifts hosts an exhibition of jewelry, precious stones and other diplomatic gifts received during state visits: among other things, there is a quartz which is dated 20 million years ago from Switzerland, precious carpets from Turkmenistan and a Samurai armor from Japan.
- The House of Knowledge in the east wing of Qasr Al Watan houses a collection of extremely rare manuscripts, artifacts and books, including religious texts from the Koran and the Bible. The hall houses a collection of ancient geographic maps of Arabia, and over 50,000 books documenting the history and culture of the United Arab Emirates: The Qasr Al Watan Library, one of the most important libraries in the country.
Qasr Al Watan Tickets and Tours
The visit to Qasr Al Watan is one of the rare occasions in the world to see inside a real Arab Presidential Palace and have a look at rooms and gardens that are normally off-limits and can only be visited by the most important political leaders.
To visit the Qasr Al Watan you need to book your ticket online.
This skip-the-line ticket allows you to enter directly and enjoy the visit avoiding the long queues at the ticket office.
Visit Qasr Al Watan and Abu Dhabi’s top attractions on a guided tour
If you only stay a few days in Abu Dhabi the best solution is to book a guided tour to see all the main attractions of the city in just one day (including the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Etihad Towers and Qasr Al Watan, of course).
Visiting Abu Dhabi with a tour is a smart choice: all tickets are included, you will have a professional guide (you can choose between different languages) and it includes transportation and pick-up and drop off from the hotel or port (which is perfect if you arrive in Abu Dhabi on a cruise).
Visit Qasr Al Watan and Abu Dhabi on a guided tour from Dubai
If, on the other hand, you are in Dubai, it is worth a visit to take a look at Abu Dhabi. The city can be easily visited with a day tour from Dubai, which includes transportation from your hotel and all tickets to the main attractions.
Qasr Al Watan Visiting Hours
Qasr Al Watan is open to visitors every day of the week, from 10.00 AM to 8.00 PM.
In the evening at 7.30 PM you can attend the Palace in Motion Light and Sound show, a light and sound show projected on the facade of the Qasr Al Watan. The show lasts 30 minutes.
Last entry to Qasr Al Watan is at 7.00 PM, the library and exhibition halls also close at 7.00 PM.
How to Get to Qasr Al Watan
Qasr Al Watan can be reached by Bus no. 10 or 34, which stop near the Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi.
An easy and fun way to visit Abu Dhabi is with the Hop On Hop Off double-decker buses that go around all the attractions of Abu Dhabi and stop right in front of the Qasr Al Watan.