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’Palace of the Nation’: Qasr Al Watan attracts visitors to Abu Dhabi

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One of the UAE’s latest cultural landmarks, Qasr Al Watan, is a place that translates from Arabic to mean, the ‘Palace of the Nation’.


One of the UAE’s latest cultural landmarks, Qasr Al Watan, is a place that translates from Arabic to mean, the ‘Palace of the Nation’.

The imposing building in Abu Dhabi, which is surrounded by lush, manicured gardens, is housed within the 380,000 square-metrePresidential Palace compound.

The monument took 150 million man hours to build and its façade was constructed of white granite and limestone.

Aerial view of Qasr Al Watan

Inspire Middle East’s anchor Rebecca McLaughlin-Eastham toured the venue, starting in the Great Hall, which boasts one of the largest domes in the world and reflective installations by Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej.

Installation at Qasr Al Watan

Qasr Al Watan guide, Mohamed Hussein, began by explaining the significance of the palace’s palette of pastel colours, used in the 5,000 geometric, mosaic wall and floor patterns.

“The palace has three main colours, these are blue, yellow and white,” says Hussein. “Each colour represents a certain characteristic from the United Arab Emirates. The blue represents the Arabian Gulf waters, the yellow represents the Arabian sands and the white represents the purity and peace.”

Inside Qasr Al Watan and details of its floor patterns

A major draw for tourists is the House of Knowledge and a lending library of around 50,000 books, exploring the UAE’s political, social, literary & cultural history.

In another wing, there’s a room called the ‘Spirit of Collaboration’ which is designed to host meetings of the UAE’s Federal Supreme Council as well as regional summits.

“It’s very important that everyone can see each other,” explains Hussein. “But also, it’s very important that no specific leader is superior to the other. That’s why the design of the room is circular.”

The Spirit of Collaboration room and its chandelier

The room’s central feature is a chandelier made up of 350,000 crystals, which is only illuminated on special occasions.

“The room is specifically designed to host three types of meetings; the first one is GCC summits, the second one is meetings of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) - the meeting for Islamic countries, and the last one is the Arab League.”

Political and faith leaders to have visited Qasr Al Watan in recent times, include Pope Francis.

Many photos and diplomatic gifts are on display within the Presidential Gifts Room, including a Swiss quartz rock which the palace estimates to be around 20 million-years-old.

20 million-years-old Swiss quartz rock displayed in Qasr Al Watan

And because no state visit would be complete without a Presidential dinner, visitors can also take in Qasr Al Watan’s 300-seat banquet hall, which is laid with 149,000 hand-engraved pieces of fine bone china tableware.

The banquet hall in Qasr Al Watan and details of the tableware


Maulaa from Indonesia said she enjoyed learning more about the history of the UAE upon her visit to Qasr Al Watan.

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