If you have ever wondered what a real life Presidential Palace looked like from the inside, you will soon have a chance to find out. For the first time since its completion in 2015, the Qasr Al Watan, also known as the Palace of the Nations has opened the doors of its glittering Presidential Palace to the public. Qasr Al Watan is an exquisitely crafted tribute to Arabian heritage and artistry. This Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi is more than just a palace, it is a fountain of knowledge on the enriching journey of Arabian history in a contemporary setting. Read on because you are in for a real royal treat!
Qasr Al Watan - Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi
Qasr Al Watan, is just one part of the sprawling Presidential Palace compound in Ras Al Akhdar. It was a mysterious labyrinthine of white domes, opulent buildings and well manicured gardens that were off limits to the public after its construction in 2015. But, not anymore. You can now step foot into a part of the grandiose palace and revel in its architecture, precious manuscripts and sculptures. A visit here draws back the curtain on the rarefied world of the Arabian royal court and that is something no one has ever seen till date.
The palace houses the formal offices of the President, the Vice President and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and while you can't visit these parts, you never know when you may chance upon them!
The world famous Emirates Palaces stands adjacent to the Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi. However, Qasr Al Watan's pearl white façade blazing in the afternoon sun, contrasting sharply with the blue of the sea makes the Emirates Palace look rather less impressive.
Read our guide on visiting the Emirates Palace and plan your trip better.
Why visit Qasr Al Watan?
While its mere architecture and opulence is a reason enough to lay eyes on the Palace, here's why you must visit the Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi.
- Indulge in a one of a kind opportunity to marvel at majestic hallways of the Presidential Palace
- Explore exhibitions that celebrate UAE's rich Arabic heritage and learn more about the rulers and governing institutions of the nation.
- Qasr Al Watan is more than just a palace, it is an enriching journey in a contemporary setting that reveals and reflects on the innovations that will drive UAE's future.
- The Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi houses the offices of the President, Vice President and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. While you cannot enter these offices, getting a glimpse of it is simply amazing!
- The Palace is also the official meeting place for the UAE Cabinet and the Federal Supreme Council - the highest constitutional authority in the UAE. It is where official state visits and global leaders like the Pope, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and Chinese President, Xi Jinping were hosted during their visit.
- Qasr Al Watan houses interactive exhibitions, a library containing books and resources about the UAE and the House of Knowledge, which highlights the contributions made Arabs to various fields of study. These are just a fraction of the interesting rooms and exhibitions you can witness inside.
Qasr Al Watan History & Architecture
Qasr Al Watan is built on the Ras Al Akhdar peninsula, adjacent to the Emirates Palace hotel spanning 150 hectares of land. The architectural style is similar to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with flickers of Mughal-era architecture that was in vogue during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Some of the chief characteristics include large white onion-style domes, lavish courtyards, delicate ornamentation and lush manicured gardens.
The façade of the palace features white granite and limestone built to last hundreds of years. The beige and honey hues signify the UAE’s landscape of ever-shifting sands, the white is an ode to purity and the blue represents the sky. In essence, the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi is gold with a hint of caramel and sunshine.
The interior of the Palace of Nations Abu Dhabi is decorated using white, yellow and blue to signify the landscape of the region. The Palace's architectural and interior design also echos the importance of the exhibits housed within its walls.
Qasr Al Watan Tickets & Tour
Qasr Al Watan Tour Prices
- Palace & Garden Ticket - This is an all access ticket which allows you to enter all public spaces, inside and out.
- Adult Price - Dhs 60
- Child Price (4 to 17 years) - Dhs 30
- Kids under the age of 4 years go free.
- Garden Only Ticket - This ticket gives you access to the grounds and visitor centre.
- Adult Price - Dhs 25
- Child Price (4 to 17 years) - Dhs 12
- Kids under the age of 4 years go free.
Over and above the ticket price, you can book a guided tour. Standard English or Arabic guided cost Dhs 30 per pax. These tours are limited to 20 visitors per tour. Individuals or groups of up to 20 can arrange for a private guided tour in either English or Arabic for Dhs 600.
Qasr Al Watan Tour Timings
Guided tours depart every 30 minutes in English or Arabic languages. They last for 60 minutes and give you access to both the Palace and Garden.
Why take a Qasr Al Watan Abu Dhabi Tour?
Qasar Al Watan Guided tours give you a glimpse of Arabian craftsmanship and takes you through centuries of knowledge in the form of books, manuscripts, exhibitions and artwork. You can gain a deeper understanding about the rulers and institutions of the country. Those visiting at night receive a special treat of a light and sound show told in three acts covering the past, present and future vision of the country.
Inside the Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi - Qasr Al Watan Tour Highlights
The Palace of the Nations tour takes you through 8 areas of significance inside the Palace. Here's a quick glimpse.
The Great Hall
The guided tour begins at the Great Hall which stands at the heart of the building, measuring 100x100 metres. The highlight of the hall is without doubt the main dome - one of the largest in the world and the largest in the region, measuring 37 metres in diameter. The intricate craftsmanship invested in every single element of The Great Hall is simply spellbinding.
Spirit of Collaboration
This room was designed to host meetings of the Federal Supreme Council, as well as summits of organisations such as the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
The Presidential Banquet
This banquet is reserved for official occasions, but is also an ode to Emirati hospitality. About 149,000 unique pieces of silver, crystal and china were specially designed and made for the palace. The plates are hand-painted and the food reflects the country where the host comes from. The banquet has been designed such that the tables at the front are half empty so guests do not turn their backs on the hosts. One of the most popular meals served here is quzi – an entire lamb sitting on a bed of rice.
This exhibition showcases the diplomatic gifts UAE has received from foreign dignitaries during state visits. Lay your eyes on carpets from Turkmenistan, an ornate sword and shield from Kazakhstan, armour from Japan and a beautiful khanjar from Oman, all adding a splash of colour to the dry world of diplomacy.
House of Knowledge
The House of Knowledge in the east wing of the Palace has two rooms featuring rare artefacts, books, and manuscripts including The Birmingham Qur'an, The Atlas Manuscript on Astronomy and Explanation of Lamiat Al-Zukak on law and judiciary rules and antiquities from the Arab world. You can also view key artefacts and historic maps that represent some of the earliest Arab contributions to human knowledge during the period of enlightenment referred to as the Arab Golden Age.
At the Al Barza, you can aquaint yourself with 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.
Qasr Al Watan Library
The Qasr Al Watan Library is where scholars can explore a vast collection of over 50,000 books and resources about the UAE and learn about the nation's progressive journey. It houses examples of Travelogues on History, Architecture, Biology and Ethnography and also features a Digital Library collection of over 16 million items, which can be accessed online from anywhere within the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Palace in Motion (Light and Sound show)
If you're visiting the Palace in the evening, you can enjoy a magnificent light and sound show projected onto the façade of the iconic building. A story told in three acts, the show draws a link between the aspirations of Qasr Al Watan and the vision of the nation, reflecting on the UAE's journey of the past, present and future.
Qasr Al Watan Opening Hours
Qasr Al Watan will be open daily from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
The Palace in Motion evening light and sound show starts at 7:30 PM daily for a duration of 15 minutes
Getting to Qasr Al Watan
Reaching Qasr Al Watan is a simple affair.
- By Bus : Bus number 10 and 34 has a stop near the Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi.
- By Car : Simply feeding in "Qasr Al Watan" on your Google Maps, GPS should take you to the parking lot of the Palace.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there restaurants/cafes inside Qasr Al Watan?
Yes, food and drinks are available in 5 locations on site, offering everything from grab and go options, to casual dining, a tea house, and even fine dining. You can find one grab and go cafes in the visitor centre and other at the Zayed Gate, two sit down restaurants in the main building, and a café in the library.
Is photography permitted inside Qasr Al Watan?
It is forbidden to take pictures or film security staff or security systems in the palace or on the grounds, but you are free to take pictures anywhere else at Qasr Al Watan as a private visitor.
Where can I park my car at Qasr Al Watan?
There is ample free parking on site. Valet parking is also available at the visitor centre, seven days a week between 9.30 AM and 9.30 PM , for Dhs 80.
Are wheelchairs/pushchairs available on site? Is the palace wheelchair friendly?
Wheelchairs are available on request for disabled people and the elderly. It is free of cost. A limited number of pushchairs are also available for hire at Dhs 40. Pushchairs must be checked in at the security screening area in the visitor centre.
Is smoking allowed inside the Qasr Al Watan premises?
You can smoke at the dedicated smoking area located outside the visitor centre. Smoking is not permitted anywhere else inside the palace or its grounds.
Is there Wi-Fi at the Palace of the Nation, Abu Dhabi ?
Unfortunately, there is no Wi-Fi available on site for security purposes.
Is there a list of prohibited items that I cannot take with me inside the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace?
Yes, you cannot carry the following things inside.
- Penknives or knives of any kind
- Long umbrellas
- Bicycles, folding bikes, roller-skates or skateboards
- Pets or animals
- Large bags that cannot fit through airport-style security scanners
- CS gas (tear gas) or any weapon
Is there a gift shop from where I can pick up a souvenir at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi?
Yes, there are two gift shops inside – one in the visitor centre and one in the main palace building, selling “exquisitely crafted gifts” and souvenirs inspired by Qasr Al Watan.
Qasr Al Watan Abu Dhabi Reviews
It certainly has the WOW factor ...followed by oh my goodness !! Reductions for seniors. Wheelchair hire. Golf carts from car park and coach from visitors centre...its huge! Stroll around the gardens first for the views. Allow 3 hours minimum. The light show is at 7.30pm
Diana C, Tripadvisor March 2019
The Presidential Palace has just recently opened to the public. The car park is big and the transportation to the actual palace from the visitor centre is organised very well. it's 60dhs for a ticket for the palace and the gardens. it's an additional 30dhs for a 1hr guided tour (every hour) which I'd recommend to do first then you can wonder around yourself afterwards. I was told about a 3D light show that happens every day at 7.30pm outside but unfortunately on the day we went, it was cancelled due to technical reasons.
Tintana, Tripadvisor March 2019
Read more Presidential Palace Abu Dhabi reviews and learn what past visitors have to say.