Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi a spectacular building to enhance your visit to Abu Dhabi

Qasr Al Watan (Palace of the Nation) in Abu Dhabi is open to the public. Check below for a Dress Code, Map, Information, Video and great Photographs.

Aerial view of Qasr Al Watan courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE
Aerial view of Qasr Al Watan courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and  Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan took part in the opening.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak touring Qasr Al Watan courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE
Left to Right HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum touring Qasr Al Watan – courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE

Qasr Al Watan will open daily 10:00 – 20:00; though I expect that on state occasions it may close.

Wheelchairs are provided for those who need them, and special needs visitors receive complimentary access. A free-to-use car-park with shuttle buses are available throughout the day; and you can have valet parking at extra charge of AED80/-.

You can take ‘non-commercial’ videos and photographs, but may not use things like GoPro attached to your body (POV type filming on the move). As always in the UAE, do not take photos of security aspects.

There is airport-style security clearance and large bags (bigger than budget-airline carry-on) are prohibited – with no storage visitors will then be refused entry. Prohibited items are similar to those prohibited in an aircraft and also include any animal. Smoking is not permitted.

Qasr Al Watan courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE
Qasr Al Watan courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE

Inside there are several restaurants, including Dhiyafat Qasr Al Watan gourmet dining, fit for a Sheikh,  also inside is Al Fowala. The library has a small cafe Maqha Al Maktaba. In the Visitor Centre, Zayed Gate and the main Palace is Legma afast-food style option. You can also buy souvenirs from Qasr Al Watan in two shops. Toilets are available in several locations, including the visitors’ centre, where a prayer room is available for Muslim visitors.

There is a dress code for Qasr Al Watan of what can be called ‘smart casual’ with for example long sleeved, long length dresses/skirt for women and long trousers and smart shirt for men, in short – dress appropriately for a casual social visit to the Palace of a Head of State.

Exterior of Qasr Al Watan courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE
Exterior of Qasr Al Watan courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE

The tour of Qasr Al Watan starts at The Great Hall, the heart of the building.

The Great Hall courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE
The Great Hall courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE

In the west wing, visitors will have access to halls typically reserved for official summits and learn about the formation of the UAE. These include the Spirit of Collaboration hall, where the UAE Federal Supreme Council, UAE Cabinet meetings and official summits are conducted.

Al Barza courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE
Al Barza courtesy Ministry of Presidential Affairs UAE

At the Al Barza hall, visitors will learn about the traditional role of a ‘Majlis’- a space for cultural, political and social gatherings – through an engaging multimedia show which sheds light on the continuation of a tradition historically followed by Emirati leaders to govern with the consensus of their people. There is also a display of official Diplomatic Gifts.

The interior will not be the only attraction. The gardens are spectacular formal style overlooking the Arabian Gulf. Before closure each day a sound and laser-light show ‘Palace in Motion’ will portray the past, present and future of the United Arab Emirates.

Qasr Al Watan timing is seven days a week from 10:00 – 20:00 with Qasr Al Watan tickets (Adults AED60/Children (4 – 17 years old ) AED30) available for purchase from the Visitor Centre and online (with email delivery) via the official Qasr Al Watan website. Guided tours (AED30) are available every half hour with up to 20 people, and private guided tours (AED600) are also available for your own party of 1 up to 20people. You can purchase tickets (AED30) only for entry to the gardens.

The location is easy to find and is accessed from the western end of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche (near the Emirates Palace Hotel).

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman – edition 4