Abu Dhabi's Presidential Palace Is An Exploration Of Regal Middle Eastern Design
Past meticulously landscaped gardens and sumptuous fountains, sits the looming structure that is the Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi, a building so grand that one can’t help but catch their breath at first glance.
Housing the formal offices of the President, the Vice President and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, its sheer scale and remarkability is striking, but no more so than the newly opened Qasr Al Watan – the UAE’s newest cultural landmark housed within the 380,000-square-metre Presidential Palace compound that is now opened to the public seven days a week.
External view of Qasr Al Watan
Inaugurated this week after seven years of construction and 150 million man hours, Qasr Al Watan, or Palace of the Nation, now stands as a working citadel that hosts official state visits and summits, with a dedicated section allowing visitors the chance to explore a vast collection of artefacts and manuscripts highlighting the Arab world’s contributions to various intellectual fields. The structure also boasts a contemporary library where scholars can explore a wide collection of books and resources about the UAE and the neighbouring countries of the GCC.
A colour palette of white, yellow and blue was specifically chosen by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Inspired by Mughal-era design, the palace’s architecture incorporates classical local motifs such as the arch, dome and ornate tile-work. The aesthetic also pays homage to the heritage and artistry of the Arabian Gulf, integrating 5,000 geometric, vegetal and floral patterns throughout the space. A colour palette of white, yellow and blue was specifically chosen by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and President of the UAE, which has been used throughout the interior of the palace.
View of The Great hall
The colour white was chosen as a symbol of purity and peace, and reflects the buildings that are commonly found in coastal Gulf countries. The doors of the palace are made of solid maple, chosen for its light colour and durability in consideration of the regional climate, while the design features hand-carved patterns and 23-carat French gold detailing.
Located at the heart of Qasr Al Watan is The Great Hall, the crowning jewel of the structure, measuring 100 metres by 100 metres. The hall’s main dome is one of the largest in the world and is even larger than that of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Specific design elements of the hall can be further explored through four art installations - mirrored cubes that emphasise the hall’s architectural details, such as the diversity of patterns, and intricate craftsmanship invested in every single design.
The Spirit of Collaboration is a room designed to host summits of the Arab League and GCC. A 12-tonne chandelier is seen in the centre
Past the Great Hall, there are eight rooms, including a space housing presidential gifts given to the UAE by countries across the globe with beautiful vases, medals and carpets on display. Visitors can then walk a few steps to the Spirit of Collaboration – a room designed to host summits of the Arab League and GCC. Above the circular table is a 12-tonne chandelier consisting of 350,000 crystals that had to be assembled on site. It even has space inside for a person to carry out repairs.
There are eight rooms, including a space housing presidential gifts given to the UAE by countries across the globe
Far too vast to recount in one setting, Qasr Al Watan provides a truly immersive experience through the history and architecture of one of the Middle East’s most prominent symbols of majesty.